Some categories will do well online but e-com euphoria won’t last long: Biyani

Kishore Biyani, chief of India’s second-largest retail group Future Group, said on Monday that there are some categories such as mobile, watches, footwear and select clothing categories that have the potential to do well in the e-commerce sector even as he maintained his contrarian view on e-com as a sector.

"This (e-com) euphoria will not last for more than 6-18 months," Biyani said at a Technopak Leadership Forum in Delhi.

Biyani who earlier went public with his vociferous critique of e-com firms accusing them of selling products below cost price, reiterated his stance and said that the heavy discounts are pouring in because of the huge funding they have been receiving and the day they exhaust that the discounting season will be over.

Biyani shocked the industry earlier this month by joining hands with Amazon to sell apparel from Future Group’s brand stable through its India marketplace just days after criticising e-commerce players.

Under the partnership, is the exclusive online store for Future Group’s owned or licensed fashion brands including Lee Cooper, Converse, Indigo Nation, Scullers and Jealous21. Presently, Future Group has a portfolio of over 40 brands. The group’s fashion business is housed under public listed firm Future Lifestyle Fashions Ltd.

Biyani, whose firm Future Retail runs Big Bazaar hypermarket, also has its own e-com portals FutureBazaar and Ezone, which are seen as another sales channel for the group. It is a bit player in the fast growing e-com space. The group recently also launched the business-to-consumer (B2C) portal for Big Bazaar Direct. With it, the company aims to create an e-commerce enabled direct selling business for its flagship hypermarket Big Bazaar.

These units do not sell apparel as of now; so to begin with the alliance with Amazon does not cannibalise its existing e-com business.

The firm is mum on how the alliance with Amazon will affect the group’s existing e-tail operations, as the partnership expands to other products.

Biyani declined to comment anything afresh on the partnership with Amazon but remarked that both e-commerce and physical stores will be there in the near future. "TV never replaced newspaper, in this industry it is this and that both. Till the time they are going to give discounts and give a habit to people they will be successful. It is not going to be this vs that," said Biyani.

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