- Kishore Biyani-led Future Group scaled down its e-commerce company, Retail 3.0, and laid off 350-400 employees.
Kishore Biyani-led Future Group scaled down its e-commerce company, Retail 3.0, and laid off 350-400 employees, four former employees on condition of anonymity being aware of the development said.
Two of them said the layoffs around positions in manufacturing, product development, marketing and ground operations were carried out in the last few months. Future Group recently shuttered many of its EasyDay stores amid little traction for its EasyDay grocery app.
The November closure of 140 EasyDay outlets, announced by The Economic Times, was part of the same restructuring exercise, one of the two people cited earlier said.
While announcing the e-commerce strategy for Future Group in 2017, Biyani had been stressing mixing technology with its existing physical stores. “The aim was to turn a Future Group consumer’s entire offline journey into the online world,” the second person cited earlier said. A spokesperson for the Future Group confirmed the layoffs without revealing details.
Retail major started recruiting towards the end of 2016 to develop digital assets to support a new e-commerce strategy. At a Nasscom Brand Conclave in November 2017, Biyani announced the Retail 3.0 initiative. By 2018 Retail 3.0 had 500-600 workers developing various digital properties. In November 2018, Amazon’s e-commerce giant acquired a 9.5 percent stake in Future Group worth some 2,500 crores.
Amazon and Future Group said last week that Amazon India would become the approved online sales platform for Future Retail Ltd stores and that Future Retail will ensure the involvement of related stores on the Amazon India marketplace and its services.
In April 2017 Future Group announced a research and development center in Bengaluru called C&D (Consumer and Digital) Labs. “We (C&D Labs) built a map of the entire journey of a client of the Future Group… a psychographic study of the buyer,” the first person quoted earlier said. “For example, if we knew the customer’s age and gender and marital status, we could find out what kinds of goods could be sold to him or her from a pool of previous order history of similar customers.”
By 2019, because of the downturn in retail sales and the delays in planned investments in the e-commerce business, Future Group decided to pull the plug and dramatically scale down its digital strategy.
C&D Labs, which had been spun off from Future Consumer Ltd, had around 150 employees according to the second person.
Some of the fired employees worked on two key digital assets, including storefront software for managing physical stores loyalty programs, and a hyperlocal delivery app called EasyDay. The storefront software was designed to ease customer onboarding to the loyalty program priced at an average of 9999 per year.
“As much as 40-45 percent of each store’s revenue was powered by the loyalty program,” said the first person. The program was also related to the EasyDay app, where paid members earned a 10 percent discount on each order. However, the app is currently limited to consumers in the Delhi-National Capital Region. In its beta phase, the EasyDay app was rolled out to 22 stores in northern India but benevolent.
“Through its 999 programs, Future Group earned about 38 lakh of memberships, but since the delivery product never came out of the beta phase, it never saw a national rollout,” he added. “When a conventional retailer like Future Group begins investing in e-commerce, the organization should be sure how deeply they want to incorporate technology into their units and whether they want to integrate technology into their units.
“And with the current tie-up between Amazon and Future Group, it’s obvious that Future Group’s new strategy is entering an Omni-commerce platform.
But they are unlikely to stop with just this model; since they are very adaptive to new technologies, one could expect them to come out with newer models to sell online sooner.”