06 Nov 2017
Food-delivery space: Next big battleground for Indian e-commerce leaders?
They are in talks with food-delivery giants Zomato and Swiggy, and others like Freshmenu for investing in them.
Sources said Amazon is looking to make investments while Flipkart and Paytm are "aggressively scouting for deals."
Flipkart likely to invest $100mn in Swiggy
India's largest e-commerce company, Flipkart, and its investor Tencent reportedly held investment discussions with Zomato before the food-delivery giant signed an exclusivity agreement with Ant Financial, Chinese e-commerce leader Alibaba's payments affiliate, for capital infusion.
However, Flipkart is now in talks with Swiggy for investing up to $100mn in it.
South Africa's Naspers media group is a common investor in Flipkart and Swiggy.
Amazon India's talks with Zomato, Swiggy unsuccessful
Global e-commerce giant Amazon's Indian arm, Amazon India, has recently held investment discussions with Bengaluru-based cloud kitchen start-up Freshmenu.
Earlier, the company sent a term-sheet to Zomato for investment at $600mn valuation. However, the talks were unsuccessful over Zomato's estimated worth. Its negotiations with Swiggy also failed last year.
Now, Amazon is planning to expand its meal kit delivery business in the country.
Zomato, Swiggy merger talks fall through
Paytm held investment discussions with Swiggy while its largest shareholder Ant Financial, with Zomato.
If Ant Financial's investment in Zomato goes through, the Gurugram-based food-delivery player is likely to align Paytm "more closely" as a payments option.
Ant wanted Zomato and Swiggy to enter a merger deal and invest in that combined entity, but discussions were unsuccessful owing to strategic and valuation differences.
What's the rush?
Internet giants' rush for food-delivery investments triggers race
All the above discussions may not even lead to deals as the three e-commerce players are involved in talks with multiple food businesses.
An anonymous entrepreneur, who participated in some discussions, said a "fear of missing out or to deny an opportunity to (their rivals)" is driving the etailers' hunt rather than a "very well-thought-out strategy or a major business use-case."
Online retail in India expected to slow down
Some say the e-commerce companies' rush to diversify comes amid expectations of slow growth in the online retail business in India.
In 2014-15, Morgan Stanley projected India's domestic online market would reach $119-billion by 2020.
However, e-tailers have discovered the industry would grow at a slower pace beyond the top 20-30 million customers as the per-capita income would take time to rise.
But, why are e-commerce giants interested in food-delivery?
E-commerce companies' interest in food-delivery industry reportedly reflects their "attempt to build their hyper-local online commerce ecosystems."
Faasos Cofounder-CMO, Revant Bhate, said: "All of them have users to keep on the platform. Food is the next frequent-use case."
India's online food-delivery business more than doubled to 12-13-million monthly orders since 2016. Zomato and Swiggy get more monthly orders from active users than these e-tailers.