Big Bazaar logo

Retail giant Future Group has officially launched its direct selling service called Big Bazaar Direct which will allow customers to directly place orders with appointed Big Bazaar franchisees, reports Business Standard. The service was started as a pilot program in Nagpur in July 2013 and is expected to be rolled out nationwide in the next two months.

How this service works is Big Bazaar appoints company franchisees and provide them with tablets called ‘Big Bazaar Direct Tablet’ which will feature more than 1,000 deals from Big Bazaar, as per the company claims. These franchisees can then visit customers who can browse through the catalogue on tablets, purchase products of their preference, get the order confirmation via SMS and then pay the amount to the franchisees.

It looks like customers can request for franchisees to visit their homes through a phone call or by providing their phone number on the Big Bazaar website to allow franchisee call them. Franchisees will get commission for each order, although the company hasn’t disclosed any information on the exact commission offered to these franchisees.

The company claims that the order will be delivered to consumers within 3-7 days, which we feel is a bit on the higher side, considering that people generally shop for daily need or instant need products at Big Bazaar. Citing a source, the report however notes that Big Bazaar plans to offer 24 hours delivery in metro cities and 48 hours in smaller cities.

Through this service, the company is probably targeting customers who are wary of shopping online, and reduce its expenditure by skipping the need to set up a traditional retail outlet. However, we don’t understand on whats’s stopping Big Bazaar from offering its entire catalogue to consumers through this service.

Franchisee Model: People can apply for becoming franchisees by filling up an online application form, following which Big Bazaar will choose eligible franchisees. On being selected, these franchisees will have to make an initial investment of Rs 3 lakhs which includes the setup charges, order advance and a refundable security deposit.

For this model to work, We feel that Big Bazaar needs to have a strong franchisee base, which can be quite tough since there is a significant initial investment upfront. Citing sources, the report however adds that Future Group aims to have 100,000 franchisees within the next two years.

On a related note, we wonder what happened to Future Group’s e-commerce venture FutureBazaar? The site seems to have slipped into an oblivion with the emergence of other players liker Flipkart, Jabong and Snapdeal among others. The last we heard about FutureBazaar was in June 2011, when the company was targeting Rs 1 crore online sales on a daily basis and was hoping that 10% of its retail revenues comes from digital platforms.