Future Group

Kishore Biyani’s Future Group is planning to launch an e-commerce platform in October, reports Business Standard.

Biyani said they are currently running an e-commerce pilot in Akola, Amravati and Bhilwara and they would be launching it in a phased manner starting with the electronics category in October and followed by sports. While the focus will be predominantly on non-perishable products, the company plans to also sell perishable products like fruits, vegetables and meat in select cities. Europe-based Hybris Technology is apparently developing the portal.

It’s currently not clear whether this will be a B2B e-commerce venture or a B2C e-commerce venture, although there are indications that this will possibly be a B2B venture. Biyani mentions that Hong Kong firm Li & Fung will be taking care of supply chain management for the e-commerce venture.

Note that Li & Fung already has a joint venture with the Future Group for a wholesale cash-and-carry business. It had also invested $30 million for a 26% stake in Future Group’s logistics venture Future Supply Chains back in 2009. Earlier this month, Walmart India had also launched its B2B e-commerce store Best Price Modern Wholesale for the registered members of Best Price Modern Wholesale stores in Hyderabad and Lucknow.

What about FutureBazaar.com?

Remember that Future Group already had a B2C e-commerce store in the form of FutureBazaar.com, which was one of the dominant e-commerce player in the Indian market between 2008 and 2010. In fact, in December 2010, the Future Group was targeting 10% of retail sales from its digital platforms. This was when FutureBazaar.com was re-launched following a period of consolidation of Future Group’s loss-making formats. At the time Biyani had told Business Standard that the e-commerce platform would contribute around Rs 3,000 crore over the next five years.

In June 2011, Future Group had said it is targeting daily sales of Rs 1 crore from FutureBazaar.com. However, post this the e-commerce platform practically slipped into oblivion with emergence of  players like Flipkart and others. The last we heard about FutureBazaar.com was when Vivek Biyani took over the reins of the online portal in March 2013, after Kashyap Deorah quit the company to start his new venture Just Chalo (which was later acquired by OpenTable in June 2013). The site is currently powered by the DIY e-commerce platform Martjack.

Big Bazaar Direct

Last September, Future Group had also launched Big Bazaar Direct which enabled customers to directly place orders with appointed Big Bazaar franchisees. The objective was to integrate traditional supply chains, like kirana stores, with the Big Bazaar brand in a franchise model. These franchises (small to medium-sized retailers) were provided tablets with in-built product catalogues. They would directly take orders from customers at their homes. Biyani mentions that the entire Big Bazaar store will also be online across India by the end of 2014.