The city’s tipplers will soon be able to order their favourite drinks from the comfort of their homes, after four platforms — a couple of the biggest food delivery services, a specialised liquor delivery service and a retail chain — signed an agreement with Bevco (West Bengal State Beverage Corporation), the state’s wholesale and distribution arm, for starting doorstep delivery.
Swiggy and Zomato, the app- and web-based delivery platforms already popular in the city, expect to launch services very soon, maybe as early as on Thursday. According to sources, they have started ground work and are starting a “dry run” in Kolkata, Siliguri and other prominent district towns.
Hip Bar, India’s only RBI-approved mobile wallet exclusively meant for transacting “adult beverages”, is also one of those to have signed up with Bevco. The Chennai-headquartered startup has already been delivering liquor in Bengaluru. The other service to have signed up is Spencer’s Retail, which has a liquor arm and has carried out a a pilot project.
On May 5, Bevco itself had floated an e-retail platform. But the response was not very encouraging, said a state excise official, prompting it to expand the service to platforms that already have some expertise in the e-delivery of food and liquor. “A total of 630 off-shops enlisted themselves on the platform over the past month. Most retailers do not have infrastructure for home delivery, so the enrolment was poor,” the official added.
A Zomato spokesperson confirmed the development. “We will start our alcohol delivery service in Kolkata and Siliguri by tomorrow,” he said. Sources close to the development in Swiggy said their pilot project was on, and a formal launch was expected in the next few days. Both delivery services currently offer similar services across major cities in Jharkhand and Odisha. While these two — like in their food delivery model — will work with outlets that tie up with them, a model that Hip Bar is also expected to follow, Spencer’s would cater to its customers from its outlets. “We welcome the Bengal government’s move to commence home delivery of liquor through online channels like apps,” said Kaushik Ganguly, head, east, Spencer’s Retail. “Spencer’s has entered into an MoU with Bevco for online ordering or liquor for doorstep delivery to eligible customers.”
According to the agreement, these companies would act as service providers — for online ordering and delivery, handling electronic ordering, sales and home deliveries — of alcoholic beverages. The agreement stipulates that liquor retailers would be free to enrol themselves under any or all of these platforms. And it’s not only off-shops; on-shops (retail outlets with bars on premises) can also enrol themselves for home delivery through these service providers.
There are 350 on-shops and over 1,500 off-shops and country spirit shops in Kolkata. The total figure across the state would be more than 7,000. Bengal is a market of 14.1 million (1.4 crore) cases of hard IMFL, which includes whisky, rum and vodka, and 8 million (80 lakh cases) of beer annually.
Sudesh Poddar, secretary of Hotel and Restaurants Association of Eastern India (HRAEI), said Swiggy had already approached bars for enrolment of home delivery. “They (the e-platforms) will not charge anything from the retail licensees like us. They will charge extra per bottle for last-mile delivery,” he told TOI.
Source: Times of India