The current saga of the Indian e-commerce industry is best summed up by an evergreen song from the blockbuster of the 70s, Sholay, ‘jab tak hai jan mein nachungi, by the King of Retail, Future Group's Kishore Biyani.
According to him, for the e-commerce industry, it is “Jab tak paise hai hum log nachenge, discount denge.”
Kishore Biyani, who still calls himself a kiranawala, is the original entrepreneurial poster boy of India and leads the Rs. 22000-crore retail behemoth Future Group.
When YourStory met him recently in Bengaluru, he was his candid self and gave his views on everything from e-commerce to offline retail. He talked about how the Future Group is in the process of reinventing itself and how every failure has been a learning. He shed light on why Indian entrepreneurs should focus on the scalable businesses and not get stuck with smaller delivery kind of business models.
Here are some highlights from an exclusive interview.
Compares e-commerce to Sholay and Devdas
- E-commerce business is like the film Sholay ka hai na jab tak hai jaan – jab tak paise hai hum log nachhenge
- Kaun kambakt nashe ke liye daaru pita hai? Kaun kambakt paise banane ke liye e-commerce business karta hai.
- E-commerce business is very, very, difficult. There is a need to align e-commerce with physical retail and try to make money and try to cut down on acquisition costs. Do not give any freebies and align with your business and see that your profitable.
- Fab Furnishing is an attempt. The aim is to make it profitable.
Is e-commerce going to kill traditional businesses?
- 95 percent of the business is still retail, 90 percent in physical form and 5 percent people doing digital business. Five percent is pure online.
- Nobody has made money in the online space, so online will have its own challenges.
- It is not this versus that again.
- Technology does three things, reduces space, reduces time and creates social interactions.
- Unless you have created value addition, how will you survive.
Future Group's second innings in e-commerce
- The past innings was miserable for the group because we didn't know how to make sales, how to make money, this time we are careful and will align with our current thinking and see how to make business out of it. But in this period, in this month, we have engaged with young people, spoken to them and toured the world.
Journey to becoming the Retail King in India
- If you look at retails, we have made the maximum number of mistakes. We have done everything, opened salons, gyms, restaurants, and done everything. So many mistakes after this anyone can become a guru.
- It is a journey, businesses are never build in a day, for anything to become successful it takes about seven years at least minimum.
Urging entrepreneurs to work on a larger canvas
- I urge entrepreneurs to look for a scalable bigger canvas and not get stuck at small delivery businesses.
- There is a $300 billion business, entrepreneurs need to seize it
- There are more than 10 crore people who shop every year from our stores. There are 30 crore people whom we influence shopping, there are one million people who are dependent on us for roji roti (bread and butter). You can't get a bigger canvas than that.
- Take a blank canvas and paint something meaningful, India needs entrepreneurs.
Don't get attached to what you create
- Understand your consumers, retail is our religion, customer is our god
- Learn from the customer
- Don't get attached to what you create, you like what you create but ultimately customers decide.
Future Group reinventing itself
- The Future Group is ready to take the world with its new vision 2021
- One lakh crore business, make one crore people spend one lakh each
- Use data science and technology
- And new found energy within the group to make this a reality
While the online and offline war continues, in India offline business still captures more than 95 percent of the market. Biyani is bullish about the future and is looking to invest in e-commerce and says he is open to investing in businesses that have made good use of technology to solve real problems and not imaginary ones.