Kishore Biyani, Chairman of the Future Group, has told the Economic Times that the group isn't satisfied with their digital presence, and has big expansion plans. Towards that end, the group is in talks to acquire a company which works on website development and content, and has around 150 employees. Also in works are marketing initiatives via SMS short codes, teleshopping, proximity marketing (bluetooth, location based SMS), as well as virtual shopping through kiosks. The Future Group owns the online retail store FutureBazaar.com. It's important for a big retailer to go and jumpstart e-commerce in India, which has been limited to ticketing and standardized products like books. Beyond this, there are either issues of quality or pricing. Many online retail stores function as marketplaces, connecting vendors and buyers: poor vendor checks and accountability mean that often what you order isn't delivered. Not many have invested in warehousing and instituted sufficient quality checks and customer care initiatives. What's also interesting about the Future Group's strategy is that they intend to sell products cheaper online, by around 5-20 percent. From what I've seen, products tend usually to be priced on par with store prices, or sometimes more expensive, offering no real incentive to purchase online. The Future Group, with its Big Bazaar retail stores, Pantaloon outlets, has the warehousing capacity across the country. I'm rather bearish on two things here: -- Firstly, the Future Group's plans to set up kiosks for purchases - where is the return on that investment? How many…
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