Bisleri has started direct home delivery nationally, the company announced in a press release, letting customers place online orders directly with the bottled water giant. This comes as some shops that were reselling Bisleri cans have stopped deliveries amid the COVID-19 pandemic. A Bisleri spokesperson told MediaNama that delivery operations have started in 42 cities across India.

Under normal circumstances, stores may be threatened by the manufacturer cutting them out of the supply chain. But now, as retailers are unable to fulfill orders themselves, the bottling giant seems to have little problem in elbowing its way into the last mile of its business.

The price of delivery is steep, however, with each 20 litre can costing ₹20 in delivery fees — and a minimum order of two cans is in place, making the effective minimum order cost ₹40 in addition to the can prices. The 10 litre can has this restriction too, but its delivery is free (each can costs more than the 20 litre can, as the bottles are not returnable).

Other hyperlocal water delivery companies (yes, that’s a thing) have taken similar steps. WaterOnClick in Chennai has said that they would only deliver a minimum of three cans at a time, and that they would not accept cash on delivery. BookACan, another water delivery company based in Bangalore, has also made the minimum water delivery quantity three bottles, we found. Bisleri only accepts cash on delivery for online orders.

The end result is that drinking water is now costlier for many people who get purified water delivered home, instead of installing a water purifier. Tap water is generally not potable. Packaged water, as a result, is a significant market, worth around ₹8,000 crore (over US$1 billion) per one estimate.

Update (13:42)An earlier version of this article indicated that select areas already had direct delivery based on a payment link on the Bisleri website. Bisleri clarified to us that this payment link was for distributors in those areas, not customers. We regret the error.