Biyani launches app to take on e-tailers

By Raghavendra Kamath , Business Standard, Mumbai | In Digital | October 06, 2016
Says also in talks with taxi firms for tie-ups.

Taking discount dangling e-commerce portals head on in the middle of the crucial festive season, Future Group founder Kishore Biyani launched a mobile app, Future Pay, a 'digital loyalty' wallet assuring low prices for its shoppers.

The app has a feature which compares prices on customer bills with competitors' advertised prices. If it finds a lower price at the latter, it credits the difference to the customer's Future Pay Wallet, which can be used as cash across Future Group outlets such as Big Bazaar, Ezone and Home Town. "This is our answer to all offline and online discounts. Now, we are also lower than Amazon," Biyani, a known baiter of e- commerce companies, said at a press meet on Wednesday.

Basically, the wallet, developed by partner Oxygen Services, allows customers to make transactions after loading money by using credit cards, debit cards or net banking. Though the price match is expected put pressure on Future's margins and profits, additional sales from the wallet services are expected to make good that loss, analysts say.

Biyani says more than the pressure on group profits, customers have a right to choose the lowest priced products. "The wallet is all about how we can get leadership by using technology," he said. The group's loyalty programmes such as Big Bazaar Profit Club and Payback were linked to the app, he added. Sanjay Badhe, former head of marketing at Aditya Birla Retail said Smart Idea in the UK did an effective price comparing app and site for supermarkets and brought price comparisons to shoppers' phone.

"But, the need for a shopper to visit a brick and mortar store to use the money saved remains. The question is, can the app match the convenience of door delivery, too?" he said.

Biyani said 30,000 people had downloaded the app on a trial basis and he expected to tie up with 20 million. Initially, it is planned to give Rs 100 worth of free shopping to promote the app. The app can be used for now at Future Retail outlets and once they receive a licence, across the group's outlets.

"We can also take it outside the group's outlets," he said. They were, he disclosed, in talks with taxi aggregators like Ola and Uber, for Future to reimburse the taxi fare of shoppers visiting its stores.