Future group inks pact with Amazon India


MUMBAI: Future Group has entered into a strategic partnership with the online retail giant Amazon India under which the e-tailer will sell the retail group's products online.

The deal will leverage the product knowledge, brand portfolio and sourcing base of the Future Group, and the e-commerce platform, customer base and reach of Amazon.in.  The deal comes soon after Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos visit to India during which he met Future Group group CEO Kishore Biyani.

Talking about the collaboration Biyani comments, "The bottom line in each of our retail success stories is ‘know your customer’. Insights into the soul of Indian consumers - how they operate, think, dream and live - helps us innovate and create functionally differentiating products and experiences. Partnership with Amazon, which obsesses to be earth's most customer centric company, will enable us to leverage their strengths, investments and innovations in technology to reach out to wider set of consumers across India."

According to the joint statement issued by the companies, the partnership will initially focus on the Future’s Group fashion brands and will subsequently cover all other categories. The company’s current portfolio has over 40 brands and around 10,000 unique styles that will be exclusively retailed online through Amazon.in platform. Once operational, customers on Amazon.in platform can buy Future Group's fashion brands Lee Cooper, Converse, Indigo Nation, Scullers or Jealous21, among others.

Moreover, Amazon India will also assist Future Group in accelerating new product development in categories that are currently not served by traditional retailers.  

Commenting on the latest alliance in the e-commerce space, Trust Research Advisory (TRA) CEO N Chandramouli reckons, “Today the e-commerce space is no longer limited by geographic boundaries in a sense as fixed as it used to be a few years ago. With its current offering Amazon already caters to a massive Indian.

“Future group which has been a leading retailer in the country understands the soul of Indian consumers. As one of India’s retail pioneers with multiple retail formats, they connect a diverse and passionate community of Indian buyers, sellers and businesses. The collective impact on business is staggering: Around 300 million customers walk into Future group stores each year and choose products and services supplied by over 30,000 small, medium and large entrepreneurs and manufacturers from across India, so with the Amazon tie up, this number is set to grow and venture into the on line spectrum,” he adds.

Partnership between the two organisations will bring together the best of consumer insight from the online and offline world and create the omni channel approach to serving customers, according to the company statement.

According to Team Pumpkin co-founder Swati Nathani, “The partnership is definitely a win win situation for both the companies. Amazon will get the support of millions of Indian consumers who have already trusted Future Group brands and Future Group will foray into e-commerce space again, but this time with the support of global leaders in this category. This partnership will not only lead to more people to purchase their favourite brands online, but will also get another door for Future Group to generate  .”

“This definitely calls for more competition and harder marketing techniques. Future Group has been at the forefront of offline retail in India and its presence on amazon.in shall definitely be a cause of worry to some other leading e-commerce players,” she adds.

Amazon.in will also collaborate with Future Group brands in promoting the existing and new brands in markets, explore co-branding opportunities and accelerate new product development in categories which are currently not served by retailers. The companies will also explore synergies in areas such as distribution network, customer acquisition and cross promotions, the statement added.

Commenting on the new partnership, Amazon India vice president and country manager Amit Agarwal said, "We are excited to collaborate, leverage each other's unique strengths and serve customers across India. The product portfolio of Future Group, their innate understanding of the Indian consumer mind set and our ability to serve and deliver a convenient, easy, trusted and reliable delivery experience to a nationwide set of customers is a win win for all.”

Amazon.in started its Diwali sale on 10 Oct, but did not go with the kind of heavy discounts that Flipkart and Snapdeal did last week.

“This is the coming together of two trusted brands, Amazon and Future. Even more, they are in complementary spaces of businesses which is bound to create a strength much larger than the sum of the individuals. Not only will Amazon get leadership due to the extremely well oiled supply chain, but Future will get a business outlet, that may be larger than many of its retail stores together. I am sure the competition is beating themselves as to why they didn't think of this one,” Chandramouli comments.

“The partnership must not be seen as an attempt at ‘indianisation’ of Amazon. It is much more than that – this partnership stands on extremely strong business logic,” he adds.

Future Retail is the flagship company of Future Group and owns the Big Bazaar chain of retail stores. Future Lifestyle Fashions has a portfolio of over two dozen fashion and lifestyle brands.

Biyani recently criticised Flipkart and other e-commerce retailers in India for the deep discounts they offered during a promotional sale for the festival of Diwali, saying it would hurt other retail channels.

“Kishore Biyani reportedly lashed out against Flipkart.com, due to selling of goods below cost price, which according to him was unfair. He doesn’t seem to be against the e-commerce concept per se. Future Group already had its own portal www.futurebazaar.com, which was one of the first online e-commerce portals in India, “Nathani opines.

The Future Group's electronics store, Ezone, already has an online presence and adopts a hybrid approach to sales involving both online as well as traditional brick and mortar stores. The group has also been speaking about ramping up its presence online.

In September, Tata Group Company Infiniti Retail, which operates consumer durables and information technology (IT) retail chain Croma, and Snapdeal.com also announced a similar strategic partnership through which goods available at Croma stores were made available for purchase through Snapdeal.com.

Amazon chief Bezos, during his visit to India, spoke about the potential he saw for the fashion industry in the online space and the deal with Future Group could help boost its battle against Indian competitors like Flipkart that acquired online fashion retailer Myntra. Amazon is also reportedly in talks to acquire online fashion retailer Jabong.

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