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Future Group taps start-ups to unlock consumer data

Romita Majumdar & Raghu Krishnan/Mumbai/Bengaluru 11 Dec 17 | 12:24 AM

Kishore Biyani. Photo: Kamlesh Pednekar

Future Group is looking to unlock data of around 500-million consumers who have shopped on its offline stores across 255 cities in the country, offering technology start-ups to build models and solutions to increase engagement with them.

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This is a part of its larger aim to increase customer spends — average of Rs 20,000 over 10 visits at its stores in a year to tenfold to over Rs 2.1 lakh through a combination of offline-online interactions in a year.  “Our first goal is to build a data lake and understand the customer profile. Once the profile is ready, the vision for the start-ups (part of C&D Labs) is to come in and solve multiple problems on top of this data lake," said Rajiv Prakash, advisor C&D Labs and digital transformation, Future Group.

Last month, Future Group founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Kishore Biyani had said the company was looking to build a business that would see over 10 million-customers spend at an average of Rs 1 lakh annually by 2022 with its loyalty-based Tathastu programme.

The firm has realised the key is to mesh the customer data that it has from its stores in range of 5 km to half of the country’s 19,000-odd pin codes. It plans to have over 10,000 hyperlocal stores covering every 2 km of most pin codes across the country.

For that, it is also looking at publicly available data, such as surveys from National Sample Survey Organisation and Census, which throws up interesting insights on the wealth spread across the country.  The end goal is to ensure there is data to cater to every possible analytical insight across the organisation from distribution to product to supply chain and customer profiling.

“We want to understand how much customers are spending (within Future Group stores) across the board and try to fulfill all needs by predicting them before they think of it. Sending them promotions to driving change in behaviour to bringing them to the store or connecting with us on any channel or format (is the goal)," said  Satyam Viswanathan, CEO, Future Ideas.

Future Group has also partnered with tech giants Facebook and Google to provide a host of analytical help. But Prakash isn’t fazed about what the giants are doing here. “For us it goes beyond what Google and Facebook are doing. By pulling in as many external sources of data as might be available, we are getting a richer sense of communities that live around our stores than what would be available only on social media," he said.

The retail giant has already begun tapping start-ups and held a datathon in Bengaluru on Friday to find innovative solutions to use large consumer database.

One of the use cases the innovators are focusing upon is the use of local languages for a larger reach. Reverie, a start-up catering to local language needs in the digital space, is one of the 10 start-ups in the Labs. Further, the company is trying to leverage the local user beyond translation.

“We need to understand relations between language and consumption (of different products). Also, local language users may not have an email id and we may need to have logins based on mobile numbers," said Prakash. The five-million users of the Future Pay application may be good candidates to start localisation of services, he said.

Other start-ups that are involved in C&D Labs, include self-checkout facilitator Perpule 1Pay, Walkin (customer feedback systems), TagBox (cold chain solutions), Kore.ai (chatbots), HackerEarth (crowdsourcing) and Turing Analytics (image analytics). “Retail has been badly hit by very high cost of customer acquisition. We are not doing enough to service the existing customers better and convert the cost of acquisition to cost of service. Data will also help us stock more assortments in the stores that will result in more sales thus increasing the wallet share more than just increasing loyalty," said Viswanathan.

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