Earlier we had reported that Indian retailers Vijay Sales having E-Commerce plans. Kishore Biyani’s Future Group and other major retailers are also looking to enter the E-Commerce market.
E-Commerce heads of two large retailers: Tata and Biyani, at the recently held VCCircle’s E-Commerce Forum in Mumbai, discussed online and offline commerce in India and their plans to mix online and offline business.
Future Group, headed by Kishore Biyani, is satisfied with the positive reaction to FutureBazaar.com, which had recently undergone a design overhaul. They are supposedly now selling more laptops online than offline. Future Group is expecting a whopping one tenth of its group’s sales to come fromonline channels within the next 3-5 years. This works out to Rs. 65,o00 Crore in revenues.
Tata, which owns electronics giant Croma, has over 65 Retail Outlers in the country. We already knew they were working on an E-Commerce storefront. They are in the process of testing various combinations of physical and electronic solutions, in an attempt to amass more market share. They will attempt to draw in customers through a combined online-offline model. They also plan to set up small kiosks known as Zip in places like airports, to help consumers do product research online and even purchase gadgets physically.
Head of E-Commerce for Infiniti Retail Ltd, Mr. Kashyap Mehta said, “An online presence helps in discovery of brands and products, as well as in research before buying. Offline retailers can set up multiple channels to tap various cycles of consumer interest – from initial curiosity to the final transaction.” Infiniti runs the Croma chain and wants to bring a new channel of convenience for the customer.
He further explained that E-Commerce is a completely different ball game from retail. Even the problems faced are different: “Offline retailers suffer from strategic challenges due to a different mindset. Another challenge for retailers is converting an online user into a buyer. Online conversion rates vary between 2-5 per cent; however, it is around 20-30 per cent offline.”
Moderator of the panel discussion, Seedfund’s Mahesh Murthy, asked an interesting question: Is the future of e-commerce pure-online? Will stores soon become mere display windows and the point-of-sale will be shifting towards online?
What do you think? Will any one format triumph over the other or does the future need an integrated online-offline solution?