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Future Retail’s Big Bazaar is set to roll out a two-hour home delivery service offering a range of assortments to shoppers in the country’s top three cities—Mumbai, Bengaluru, and the National Capital Region as it ups the ante to tap into the growing online retail market.

In all, the three cities that have more than 55 Big Bazaar stores will allow consumers to place orders across fashion, food, FMCG, kitchen utilities, toys, luggage, and home products through the Big Bazaar mobile app, web portal and even in-store orders and seek quick home deliveries.

The service will begin end of this week and scale up gradually. The two-hour service will require a minimum order of 500 with a delivery fee of 49. Orders above 1,000 will be delivered free of charge.

In the second phase of the roll-out to begin in the next 45 days, cities with three of more Big Bazaar stores will offer the service.

“Going ahead, Big Bazaar aims to extend the 2-Hour Delivery to more than 150 cities that have a Big Bazaar store, and extend the benefit of great saving and value available at their doorstep to every Indian," the company said in a statement on Thursday.

Big Bazaar has over 285 stores in over 150 cities. It will use this wide network of stores to enable order fulfilment.

It expects to fulfil 1 lakh daily orders over the next 2 to 3 months.

The retailer claimed it worked for more than a year on the new service.

“In last 15 months, we have done a lot of work in creating digital infrastructure, enabling ourselves digitally so that customers can access us, anyhow, anywhere. So, a large part of investment has been done, our stores are there...we don't have to start afresh in terms of investing completely," Kamaldeep Singh, president, food business and head, online business, Future Retail Ltd said in a virtual press meet.

This was Future Retail’s first press conference since the pandemic which compounded its debt woes prompting a slump sale of Future Group’s retail, wholesale, logistics and warehousing businesses to Reliance Retail Ventures Ltd, a subsidiary of Reliance Industries.

Future’s home delivery plan comes at a time when the cash-strapped company is waiting for its deal with Reliance Industries, that’s embroiled in a legal dispute with e-commerce firm Amazon, to get cleared.

The move will pit Big Bazaar against rivals such as Amazon, Big Basket, Grofers and DMart that have been pushing shorter delivery timelines and discounts on assortments as covid accelerates consumer adoption towards e-commerce.

With this launch Future Group will become the first multi-channel retailer in the country with complete digital capabilities, Kishore Biyani, founder and group CEO, Future Group said in a statement. "A quick and fast home delivery need not just be limited to food products. At Big Bazaar we wanted our customers to enjoy instant home delivery for almost every product. Our store network, logistics, and technology capabilities now allow us to do so," he said.

In May last year Big Bazaar launched its e-commerce operations with limited success. The chain could not keep its stores well-stocked as it failed to pay vendors on time. With JioMart being on-boarded as a vendor for Future Group, the stores are better stocked now.

India's e-commerce market is set to grow its share from the current 4% of the country’s overall food and grocery, fashion, consumer electronics retail trade to 8% by 2025, according to a white paper by Technopak Advisors. More companies are accelerating their presence online.

“Given that people are seeking more deliveries rather than coming to stores, every retailer has to now extend home delivery offerings," said Harminder Sahni, founder and MD, Wazir Advisors. Another analyst said the move is an attempt by the retailer to stay relevant. “Not a completely new thing as Big Basket offers on select items," he said on the condition of anonymity.

Retailer DMart soft-launched DMart Ready, its online platform in select pin codes of Ahmedabad, Bangalore and Hyderabad in the December quarter. Earlier this year, marketplace Amazon India announced plans to integrate its Pantry service with instant grocery service Fresh across cities it operates in a bid to reduce the delivery time to consumers to 2-hour slots.

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