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Futurebazaar.com to add B2B to B2C arm

Meghna Maiti , Financial Chronicle

Mumbai, April 17, 2012

Futurebazaar.com, the online retail venture of India’s largest organised retailer — Future group is supplementing its business-to-consumer (B2C) business with a business-to-business (B2B) initiative. This marks a major departure from its initial B2C positioning.

The Kishore Biyani-controlled group aims to extend the concept of offering deals, leveraging centralised warehousing and inventory management and volume purchases to companies; in an effort to tap into the corporate gifting market. “We will offer companies a wide range of products and killer deals on orders such as 100 units of a LCD TV or jewellery from Navras (its jewellery retail venture) using our back end network. While we are putting in place the systems and infrastructure to offer companies online access to this specialised catalogue exclusively for them, we have already started selling gift vouchers which can be used across the Future group formats to companies,” said officials familiar with Biyani’s plans.

According to officials, Futurebazaar’s B2B vertical started by selling Rs 10 crore of vouchers per month and has now got a target of around Rs 40 crore per month to be achieved in a quarter’s time. Once the products are available, the turnover is expected to rise further, according to officials familiar with the plans.

“We will take wish lists from customers for products across categories and service them. The group has launched the site around a month-and-a-half ago. We are testing the water now,” said at least three senior company officials. When contacted via email, a Future Group spokesperson said the company was ‘unable to participate in the story’.

“The group is leveraging its strength in its stores for servicing a wider network. They will use the volume available across their physical formats too, to meet the demand,” said Devangshu Dutta, CEO, Third Eyesight, a specialist retail consultancy firm.

The initiative will offer a platform where its clients will be able to connect with it through the online B2B sales site and via a dedicated team of executives.

“This venture needs to have very attractive prices and low-cost delivery,” added Dutta.

Globally, specialised online B2B ecommerce sites have had a great success; it may be a while before retail giants such as Future Group make a success of it, said industry experts. “The group should stick to B2C since this format is their forte. B2B is a different ballgame altogether,” said Jagdeep Kapoor, CMD, Samsika Marketing Consultants.

The group set up Futurebazaar.com around five years ago and has recently been in the news for plans to sell a part stake in the venture. The site offers a whole assortment of merchandise including clothes, mobile phones, car accessories, home appliances, kitchen appliances, books, CDs, DVDs, gold, silver and diamond jewellery. It delivers products within three-four business days in over 1,500 cities in India, covering over 15,500 pin codes.

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