Global e-commerce giant Amazon.com has launched an online pharmacy in Bangalore, India as it looks at other avenues to expand its reach in a key growth market.
The e-commerce firm said that the service introduced as Amazon Pharmacy has already begun its operation and will soon offer deliveries across the city. The new initiative is expected to offer both over-the-counter and prescription-based drugs along with basic health devices and traditional Indian herbal medicines on the platform.
Amazon and other regional e-commerce service providers like Walmart-owned Flipkart have been diversifying their offerings amid increasing competition from billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s backed online grocery service JioMart and several other smaller players in the market.
In recent months, Amazon has engaged in a varied service profile from auto insurance to securing clearance for alcohol delivery in the Indian state of West Bengal. Last month, the firm decided to open 10 new warehouses in the Indian sub-continent.
Indian authorities and policymakers are still adapting to the still-emerging online drug sales, or e-pharmacies sector with no clear regulations finalized. But the growth of online sellers such as Medlife, Netmeds, Temasek-backed PharmEasy and Sequoia Capital-backed 1mg has threatened traditional drug stores.
These new-age e-pharma retailers have said that they comply with all Indian laws even as many trader groups proceed with protests against them, saying it would lead to the sale of medicines without proper verification.
“Amazon’s customer base is very high, so we are bound to lose business. There are 5 million families dependent on this (offline) trade,” Yash Aggarwal, legal head of South Chemists and Distributors Association in New Delhi, said on Friday.