Future Group’s Big Bazaar is looking to launch a price comparison app that will offer instant cash backs to customers if a product bought from Big Bazaar is being sold for a lower price at any other offline or online stores, reports The Economic Times. No specific date has been mentioned for the launch, but the report mentions it’ll be sometime next month. The app is expected to be operational in Mumbai initially, and later expanded to other cities across the country over the coming months.
Apparently, the app is currently being tested by Future group employees at the Food Bazaar store in Vikhroli, Mumbai. What’s interesting is that customers will be allowed to compare prices for up to 1 week after the actual date of purchase to check if any other online or offline retailer is selling the product at a lower price.
Last year, several offline retailers had made a huge hue & cry over discounts on e-commerce platforms, with several deeming it anti-competitive. Future Group founder & group CEO Kishore Biyani was one of them. Biyani had accused online marketplaces of undercutting offline retailers by selling products below manufacturing costs to destroy competition. Now Biyani seems to have adopted the mantra – if you can’t beat them, join them!
However, Biyani told the publication that there’s no question of being afraid of e-commerce as at best it will account for 10% of the organized retail market. He also mentioned that globally it has been seen that multi-channel strategy has worked far better than pure online. In fact, Future Group had tied-up with omni-commerce technology solutions provider Hybris software to converge its digital and physical channels, in September last year. At the time, all Future Group brands were expected to be available online from March 2015, and the company was expected to invest Rs 100 crore over the next 18 months on the omni-commerce platform. Earlier in the year, Future Group had launched a B2C e-commerce portal for its direct selling service Big Bazaar Direct, which was also expected to be integrated into the omni-channel strategy.
Apparently, the company will also soon launch a pilot program for its omni-channel strategy, which will see products from Big Bazaar and Food Bazaar being delivered to customers in Mumbai within an hour of placing the order.
It’s not like Future Group is new to e-commerce. They were one of the first entrants into the e-commerce space in India with FutureBazaar.com, which was a dominant e-commerce player in the Indian market in 2008-09. The platform was relaunched in October 2010 after a period of consolidation. However, it never took off. 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.
On paper it sounds like an interesting idea. But does Big Bazaar really think it’ll consistently be able to offer products at prices lower than the e-commerce majors? At least top three online marketplaces – Amazon, Flipkart and Snapdeal – constantly have some sale or the other going on. So, while it might be a great idea to attract more customers to Big Bazaar, the cash back feature might require further deliberation.