What is the future of shopping?
Two things will be common in future and constant throughout our business journey. One is people. Consumers will want lower prices; Two, they want more and more convenience and faster checkouts. We are imagining a future with the consumers and how we can offer the lowest prices and the convenience of shopping from home or in whichever way they want. That is the whole idea of the small stores which is based on membership and technology. We have started WhatsApp ordering, we have started web ordering. We are experimenting VR and AR also here.
We have created a cashless shopping model. There are a lot of other technologies on which we are working. Based on that data of a customer, we can offer him credit, we can offer him a lot of other products. It is a whole new world and a new retail and that is what we are doing. And we are showcasing this today.
As far as online shopping and home shopping is concerned, we already have certain players who offer groceries and vegetables and fruits to the consumers buying from the comfort of their homes. What is going to be unique about Future Group as it embarks on this journey?
Any member of the store can order whatever they want and whenever they want and it will be delivered to them. The prices are the lowest because we are 10% cheaper than the market. I believe we have a proposition which is far superior and experiential and maybe there is a touch and feel element, maybe there is an element of home shopping also. So, we are providing virtually everything; physical and digital together.
As far as the implementation of this new plan and project is concerned, how many stores have been roped in for the first phase and how many stores can we see adopting this technology going forward?
We already are with 1,000 small stores, out of which 600 stores are on tech front and on membership model. All the stores will be converted into the membership model. Our plan is to open another 1,000 stores this year which should take our store count to maybe around 2,000 stores. We have ambitions of opening 10,000 stores in this format driven by membership and technology.
The e-commerce space has been seeing a lot of excitement given the fact that Future Group itself is now focussing more on online payments as is testimony to the programme launched today. What is going to become of the brick and mortar stores?
It is physical and digital coming together, I do not see physical and digital separately. I believe physical and digital are one. It is the customer who has to decide how they want to shop.