Inc has expanded its offerings into India, one of its biggest markets. The company has entered the online pharmacy delivery space, by launching its operations in the southern Indian city of Bengaluru. 

A company spokesman said that the new service, Amazon Pharmacy, would sell over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription-based medicines, along with herbal medicines and health devices such as glucose meters. The service has started accepting orders.

“This is particularly relevant in present times as it will help customers meet their essential needs while staying safe at home,” said the spokesman.

Amazon eyes Indian market

Amazon’s new foray follows the company’s announcement in January that it would invest $1 billion in the South Asian country over the next five years. The company also launched food delivery services in select Indian cities earlier this year.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos (Reuters/J. Roberts)

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos (Reuters/J. Roberts)

According to a report by EY, pharmaceutical players in the e-commerce space in India are expected to reach a combined market size of $2.7 billion by 2023. The report cited rising internet penetration, smartphone ownership, and increased healthcare spending as some of the reasons for the expansion.

The US online retailer’s entry in e-pharmacy comes at a time when demand for buying medicines online has increased in India owing to the lockdown to contain the coronavirus pandemic.

According to local media reports, Reliance Industries Limited, owned by India’s richest Indian Mukesh Ambani, is also looking to enter the e-pharmacy space, with the acquisition of Netmeds, an online pharmacy.

Amazon is reportedly also planning to start selling alcohol in India. According to a Reuters report in June, the company had received clearance to deliver alcohol in the eastern state of West Bengal.

Walmart-owned Indian e-commerce company Flipkart is also planning a similar foray and has reportedly inked an agreement with a local startup.

am/stb (Reuters, AFP, dpa)