Unravelling Big Bazaar Direct


October 7, 2013

Rohit Nautiyal, Business Standard – The Strategist

New Delhi, October 7, 2013

starbucks mumbai Thirty-year-old Ramesh Bhonsale, son of the owner of a big kirana store in Nagpur’s Byramji Town, has become extra kind towards his father’s customers lately. He often draws them into conversations explaining at length that they can now order groceries online and pay by cash. The delivery will be done within three to seven days. While most of the loyal customers of Bhonsale senior have heard his son out, a handful have placed orders on the tablet by routing a small portion of their monthly grocery budget to Ramesh’s new venture. In the following days, as more people in the locality warmed up to this unique e-direct selling model, Ramesh had to face his father’s wrath for poaching customers, something he hasn’t intended doing.

The names have been changed but the story is real. This happened during Big Bazaar Direct’s (BBD) pilot in Maharashtra’s eastern region of Vidarbha. BBD is the brainchild of Future Group CEO Kishore Biyani who claims, "If it works, BBD will be bigger than Future Group’s flagship store Big Bazaar."

The big idea

Attention readers: This model has no precedence globally. So we were not sure whether it was direct sales or e-commerce. To decode this model, The Strategist met with a BBD executive after filling up the franchisee registration form on its website. At its heart, BBD is a franchisee-based model where the franchisees are expected to personally visit consumers and take orders. This will be done over a tablet which is integrated with the back-end to avoid discrepancy in product demand and availability.

Now the tablet has a catalogue with 1,000 deals (other than the ones available at Big Bazaar stores) on select products like groceries, electronics and furniture. As of now, no perishable items – such as fruits, vegetable and dairy products – are part of this catalogue. BBD’s catalogue on a franchisee’s tablet can be updated on a daily basis to reflect changes in the deals and prices. BBD can send training modules on the tablet from time to time to test the awareness level among franchisees.

To become a franchisee, one has to make an upfront investment of Rs 3 lakh. The break-up of this amount is like this: Rs 1 lakh is the refundable security deposit; Rs 1 lakh is the set-up charge for the BBD tablet, initial branding, a year’s training, launch material etc; the last Rs 1 lakh will be a franchisee’s e-wallet, which will be used for placing orders. The moment an order is fed into the tablet, the order value will be deducted from this e-wallet. The customer will get an SMS confirming the order immediately and the delivery will be done within seven days (maximum). The customer will pay the franchisee when she places her order and gets an SMS confirmation. There will be additional shipping charges if the total billable amount is Rs 500 or less.

Unlike brick-and-mortar stores, there will be no territory demarcation for franchisees while placing orders. For instance, a franchisee based in Nagpur (Maharashtra) can take an order for a customer in his network from Bhandara (Maharashtra). All she has to do is punch in the correct area code. What’s in it for the franchisee? The franchisee will earn commission ranging between 3 and 20 per cent on every product sold. While grocery items will earn her commission of 3 to 6 per cent, electronics and furniture fall under commission slabs of 3 to 7 per cent and 8 to 20 per cent, respectively. The total commission earned every month will be credited to the franchisee’s account by the 5th of the subsequent month. BBD’s relationship managers will support franchisees on matters relating to marketing and communication. BBD will also conduct knowledge seminars from time to time to educate franchisee on the various aspects of this new business.