Bricks-N-Mortar Retail giant Big Bazaar is planning a neat amalgamation of multiple technologies to expand its foot print via miniature physical kiosks.
Big Bazaar Direct, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Future Group has launched a Virtual Franchise Program, valid in the whole of India, but aimed squarely at enhancing business in the small towns and villages. The company is planning to get about 1000 virtual franchises on board and once viable, scale-up the operations to 10,000 by next year.
How will the endeavor work?
Under the ‘Direct’ plan, franchise holders will run kiosks. Consumers are expected to choose from Big Bazaar’s catalog at the site. After placing an order, a customer will pay the franchise operator. Thereafter, Big Bazaar Direct will deliver the product in three to seven days. It is not confirmed, whether the delivery will be at the franchise or at the doorstep of the consumer.
Big Bazaar had initiated this experiment last year, wherein the Franchise Operators were given Tablet PCs and were expected to book orders on these touch-screen devices. Another company, FabMart had employed this exact same practice in 2012.
Big Bazaar employs one of the most sophisticated and efficient supply-chain management techniques. Supported by location awareness equipment and combined with real-time inventory update, the company is able to keep a very close watch on the SKUs in stock and as and when needed, the software is able to alert the store owner about the need to order.
It is this expertise in managing inventory that will be utilized to ensure these miniature stores are able to fulfill orders. Interestingly, Big Bazaar will rely on its own supply-chain for all major items, expect for food and related merchandise. The company will seek collaboration from regional supply-chain for such perishable merchandise.
Owing to poor penetration of technology, such endeavors do have a novelty factor. But Big Bazaar will have to ensure decent margins as well as great prices to upset the current relation between the local provision stores and the consumers. What do you think?