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Amazon launches 'Kirana Now' quick-delivery service

31 March 2015

After rolling out its quick-delivery Prime Now service in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Baltimore, Miami and Dallas, Amazon has now launched something similar in India.

Like its US cousins, the ecommerce giant's new Indian delivery service pilot - dubbed Kirana Now after the small, family-run stores that actually provide the goods - is only available through mobile devices and is initially available only in selected cities, with hours limited from to 9 am to 6 pm. Delivery, which officially began on 25 March is in two to four hours.

The service depends on owners of the kirana uploading their inventories to Amazon, so local customers can see what's available, according to Tech in Asia, which tried the service but was blocked because its reporter wasn't in Bangalore or other cities where the service has been launched; so it's not clear how extensive the list of ''everyday essentials'' is.

Amazon said the actual deliveries may be made through Amazon's own logistics network, a kirana's own delivery employees, a third-party service or some combination of all three.

''The opportunity in the space is huge so I am not surprised,'' the co-founder of a rival service told Tech in Asia. Albinder Dhindsa, whose startup Grofers offers app-based selling from kirana in three Indian cities (New Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore) and 90-minute delivery through an on-demand network of motorbike riders, added that Flipkart and Snapdeal are also reportedly working on similar concepts.

Amazon India didn't mention Prime Now in its announcement of Kirana Now, and the two services aren't identical. But the similarity suggests Amazon may be using a mix-and-match approach to leverage its US experience with projects like Amazon Fresh and Prime Now to compete more effectively in the Indian market, where it's up against both hard-charging local startups like Flipkart and Snapdeal, and Chinese eCommerce giants like Alibaba and its rivals that are bidding to get a foothold in Asia's third-largest economy.

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