Kishore Biyani-led Future Group is set to replace its eZone stores with a new format, as it looks to turnaround the struggling electronics retail business. The country’s largest retailer has been shutting some of its unviable eZone stores to pave way for ‘connected’ commerce, which will be a new platform integrating digital and brick-and-mortar sales. The connected commerce platform may be explored for fashion as well in the future, a senior executive of the group said.
Future group will reduce the size of eZone stores and position it as a convergence platform for physical and online shoppers. This will ease the real estate cost for the retailer at a time when most consumer durables and electronics retailers are impacted by shrinking margins.
Talking to TOI, Vibha Rishi, executive director, customer strategy at Future Group, said the plan was to have a seamless store so it will not matter where the customer is purchasing the product from-it will all be connected to one system. “In a format like this we will require lesser space as we will not need to display all the products in the store but the challenge will be to have more enabled sales associates,” Rishi added.
Many international fashion retailers have adopted the digital catalogue display model in store to showcase their entire range of products.
Recently, American department store chain, JC Penney, linked its online catalogue to an interactive system through an in-store display. These web-enabled kiosks help shoppers access the entire catalogue and information while in the store.
The group is looking to engage a number of smaller franchisees and agents who will also go door- to-door to sell products. The work on this project is currently underway. Future group, which operates the Big Bazaar and Food Bazaar stores, sells electronics and durables through eZone’s online portal besides retailing through futurebazaar.com.
“A format like this gives a retailer the opportunity to offer a wider assortment of products without necessarily buying and stocking it physically in the store. Virtually you can display hundreds of products without carrying it on your inventory so it saves costs immensely,” said Pinakiranjan Mishra, partner, retail & consumer practice, Ernst & Young, a global consultancy major.
But some rivals do not see this as a viable model in India. Without wanting to named one executive from an electronics retail chain said that the consumer durables and electronics retail business was largely brick and mortar in the country, and the feasibility of connected commerce was yet to be tested.
Source : Times of India