Amazon is reportedly considering a new food delivery business in India, just a few weeks after shuttering its U.S. meal courier unit, possibly through a significant acquisition.
India’s Business Standard newspaper reported Amazon is in talks with Uber to buy out the Uber Eats India business, after the ride-hailing giant reportedly struggled to gain a foothold in a crowded market. Reuters reported that Amazon is gearing up for food delivery in India, is working with local partner Catamaran to get the service off the ground and has begun hiring staff for the project.
On the heels of Amazon’s decision to shut down Amazon Restaurants of the U.S., rumors of the India expansion show the tech giant hasn’t given up on the market altogether. The news comes as Amazon continues to push deeper into grocery and delivery of fresh food as well.
The New York Times obtained a memo from 2017, before Amazon struck a blockbuster deal to acquire Whole Foods, describing a store concept where shoppers could browse fresh meat and produce and order non-perishable goods that are separated on another floor via an app. As shoppers perused the fresh food, the other products would be brought down in time for check out, and the store would also feature an area for pickup and delivery.
The 2017 Amazon memo cited fictional grocery expert Hal Apenyo, like the chili pepper, who said the concept would take less than a year to catch on.
Amazon declined to comment on its rumored India food delivery plans and grocery ambitions.
The Times reports Amazon employees are circulating an updated version of that 2017 memo, adding new fuel to the fire of rumors of a new Amazon store concept, separate from Whole Foods. A new store concept would be split into large areas dedicated to delivery and pickup and sections for fresh food, according to the Times.
The acquisition of Whole Foods, the spread of Amazon Go, and the potential new store concept point to the tech giant’s ambition to gain a greater foothold on the lucrative grocery industry. The 2017 memo obtained by the Times estimated that Amazon would need roughly 2,000 stores to become a major player. As of last summer, Amazon’s total brick-and-mortar footprint, which includes Whole Foods was approaching 600 stores, according to GeekWire research.
Food delivery has been an important part of Amazon’s integration of Whole Foods, with the service available in 90 markets so far. The Times notes challenges that come with grocery delivery, including a lack of back of house space and the presence of fragile food items.