New Delhi: Future Group, which owns Big Bazaar and Pantaloon, plans to roll out catalogue kiosks and product-display stores in various cities to attract time-starved consumers who may select their goods from catalogues and have them delivered at their doorstep. In turn, the firm hopes to save on expensive retail space for displaying the products.
Futurebazaar.com, the e-commerce unit spearheading the model, plans to open 1,500 point-of-sale outlets ranging from 100 sq. ft to 3,000 sq. ft in size across various cities in the next three years, where consumers can choose from a wide range of products, said Sankarson Banerjee, chief executive of the unit. He said details of the formats are yet to be worked out, but said it could be catalogue counters with or without computers, unmanned computerized booths and full-fledged stores with products displayed only for home-delivery.
The catalogue/kiosk tie-up is not new because companies such as Sears and JC Penney have embraced it in the West for quite some time. “For the majority of consumers in India, the Internet and credit cards are barriers,” Banerjee said referring to why an e-shopping model won’t work.
“We have to overcome those barriers to reach the people.”
Research firm Credit Card and Management Consultancy says less than 5% of India’s 75-80 million credit- and debit-card holders use their cards for e-transactions. “People are wary of the emerging types of frauds,” said Vijay Mehta, chief consultant for the firm.
Futurebazaar.com, a unit of India’s largest retailer that operates more than 300 department stores to hypermarkets in 40 cities, selling everything from food to furniture, said there’s a limit to the number of stores a retailer can open, especially when real estate rentals are skyrocketing in India.
“We might not be able to open a Big Bazaar (hypermarket) in Nariman Point,” Banerjee said, referring to one of Mumbai’s most expensive business districts. “But we can have a kiosk there.”
The firm plans to have kiosks at railway stations and airports targeting travellers. Several of the kiosks or stores will come up in smaller towns. Futurebazaar.com, that stocks more than 14,000 products in around 15 categories, also plans its kiosks inside many of the other stores of Future Group to pitch products that can’t be displayed in stores, such as its 120 TV set models, not all of which can be displayed even at its large stores.