The pandemic has changed the way consumers shop. Their preferences, habits, and the way they used to buy the products – all have changed. Today’s consumer is much more informed and values time more than ever.
And to meet these changing consumer habits, Future Retail is charting out ways to stand up to their expectations. In a conversation, Sadashiv Nayak, CEO, Future Retail says, “The consumer is asking us to take their time far more seriously, so there is much respect as a retailer towards the consumers’ time, hence going online for us is a necessity and the larger thing is to respect the consumer’s time. We had customers walking into our stores, blessing us with their time and because of the circumstances that the things are getting challenged, we hope that they will continue to bless us online.”
“The curiosity, the need to check out more, the need to discover more is still intact. The whole joy of being there is so much prevalent, so how do we keep pace with that and really live up to that expectation of building curiosity, building discoveries for India is what we are concentrating upon at this point of time,” he further adds.
Apart from this, the whole concept of discovery of value is changing. Earlier, value used to simply price equation but now there is time, knowledge, etc. involved.
“The whole concept of what we called trying to live up whether it is recognition, monetary or education. We want to build all of it for the customer, and we going to put the overall package together. The concept of value is changing entirely,” he asserts.
“The entire concept of matrices is changing for retailers like us. If the time of the customer is important then the check-out time becomes far most important and we respect that checkout time. If discovery is important then how much we are able to show on the app becomes so much important. A large store need not necessarily become a large sale point and a small store can do as much sale because a whole lot of different customers visit this store. So a lot of those matrices are changing,” he further adds.
Technology is the backbone for the success of any retail organization. The retail brands are deploying tech at the front-end, backend, and stores to meet the consumers’ needs.
“Tech is always seen from the front-end lens. Tech has always been there in retail. We are today running 400 stores, we have 2-3 million SKUs, and managing all this without tech would not have been possible. The hero of tech is what actually happens in the front-end but the real tech which is changing things is at the backend and in the handshake phase of the supply chain etc. So we have always been trying to be better with what the industry expects us to be. We have gone back and done many introductions to kind of simplify things. The whole concept of lighting 400 stores for Omnichannel is in itself a large tech marvel. On the front-end, a lot of things are changing in terms of discovery on the apps, the entire UI/ UX. We are a brand that likes to replicate the sound, buzz, energy, abundance of a physical store on the app. So, we are trying to rediscover UI/ UX in a very different way,” he explains.
“Next is the space of customer engagement. There are CRM tools that we have put now. We are changing tools to respond to customer queries on social media quicker. A lot of tech is being employed in the CRM space to ensure that we are building things in smaller buckets,” he further adds.
Along with this, the brand is building a vernacular presence as it has always thrived on different communities and languages.
Quick Commerce is the buzzword these days. Many grocery delivery players are claiming to deliver products in just 10 minutes to match the fast-paced life of the consumers.
Elaborating on the same, Nayak says, “Quick commerce is a fancy term for what our neighborhood Kirana stores have always been doing and we should recognize that. Our own version of quick commerce was that we try and deliver everything available inside Big Bazaar in two hours, however, it was not to beat anyone, neither any grocer nor any e-commerce player. This is what we could see sustainably happening and this is what we could manage within our resources and within our team.”
“In a grocery driven country which has MRP on it, there will always be challenges when to try to stretch on it beyond your capability because whatever you do there will always be pressure. Speedy delivery does add meaning to customers’ experience; however, unnecessarily discounting to be better in the market does not add any value,” he further adds.
The company paused the pace at which it was expanding earlier as it was consolidating its presence as it re-pivoted the whole model of EasyDay and Heritage Stores around membership.
“We have close to 1 million paid members. After creating these members, we thought, that we did not need stores, we need membership and inventory pockets to service them. However, we have now expansion plans in the pipeline. We will be opening 40 stores – both Big Bazaar and fbb - across India. We will be announcing a much larger pipeline soon,” he concludes.