Advisory Mar, 03 2015

Led by technology, followed by returns

Take a look around and observe. “Everyone has his/her head down, not in shame but engrossed in their mobiles, laptops or tablets.” On an average, a user of smart phone device looks at his phone for around 158 times in a day. Over sixty per cent of the

By Rashi Mathur, TFW Bureau
Feature Writer
Led by technology, followed by returns

Everyone must have thought about how to start a new business or how to make more money in the existing business! Technology is spurring high and today every enterprise relies heavily on IT and digitisation. Technology space offers growth opportunities in every model, whether brick or mortar retail or work from home model.

Known for operating some of India’s most popular retail chains including Central, Big Bazaar, Food Bazaar, Home Town, eZone; Future Group entered into franchising in the mid of 2014 by launching Big Bazaar Direct. Big Bazaar Direct is a revolutionary technology backed business model, where in franchisees are able to sell Big Bazaar products to their customers over 3G internet enabled tablet. The tablet is integrated with the back-end of Big Bazaar, to deliver the ordered products at customer’s doorstep.

Another brand, Money on Mobile is a mobile wallet (m-wallet), which is a ‘one click’ experience for customers to buy a range of products and services from the mobile phone. The brand has a franchise retail network of over 2.4 lakh outlets that provide a convenience of financial transactions to consumers for payments towards various utility, mobile recharge, DTH and financial companies through the prepaid mode of payment. “We convert physical currency into digital format and make it available on the mobile phone to spend,” says Shashank Joshi, Managing Director, Money on Mobile.

Technology taking the lead

Be it education, apparel or food and beverage (F&B); brands across different sectors have enrolled various technical software programmes or applications for improving operational efficiencies, marketing and all brand touch points. For instance, Fabfurnish, a leading name in home furniture and furnishings and Foodpanda are backed by Rocket Internet. Pita Pit, an International F&B brand makes use of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution. Anun Dhawan, Director, Pita Pit India says: “The ERP system helps us manage our inventory in a more efficient and cost effective manner. This ensures the quality and freshness of ingredients used in making the finished product, at the same time reducing the wastages that occur.”

Essence of technology

Technology forms an integral part for franchise brands in India. The success for every business model depends heavily on the kind of technology employed by the franchisor and in return the franchisee is also benefitted. Following are the essentials that every enterprise needs to be equipped with:

  • Payroll software: A solid payroll system is very important. The system should be easy to implement and use.
  • Customer tracking system: An effective customer tracking system is a must for fostering of CRM (Customer Relationship Management). It can be coupled with e-mail marketing.
  • Cloud computing: Files and important records need to be stored on cloud so that they can be accessed with ease as when the need arises.
  • Training backed with technology: Webinars, conference calls, and virtual conferences are novel and highly useful means of imparting training to the franchisees.
  •  Private intranet: A private internet that is information packed can be highly beneficial for both the franchisor and franchisee.
  • Top notch security: The database needs to be kept secure to avoid hacking of the systems.
  • Compliance with laws: Every business is retailing via e-commerce. One should comply with all the e-commerce related laws.
  • Constant up gradation: Technology is dynamic. Hence, every business enterprise needs to upgrade the software and keep updating it with the emerging trends in technical field.
  • Optimisation for search engines: The websites maintained by the franchisor should be properly optimised for the search engines. Local websites help the customers in locating their local franchisees.
  • Posting on social media: Social media marketing strategy can be used for helping the brand in scaling up.

Technical hedgerows

The franchise model based on technology and application of programmes by the brands may involve heavy cost in the initial phase. The management and employees should have a sound technical know-how. The task does not end once technology is embraced. It requires constant improvement and innovation. JS Chadha, Chairman, Pind Balluchi comments, “Cost is a challenging point and then maintaining these technologies is another. One needs a team of professionals and trained manpower that can operate on the technological gizmos.”

Follow the lead

Technology has enabled the franchisors in yielding massive returns. The footfall of Pind Balluchi restaurant has increased by 30-35 per cent and it is planning to open 20 more outlets by the end of 2015. It is even looking forward to reach out to foreign locations like the Middle East. As stated by Vivek Biyani, Director, Big Bazaar Direct, “Our model will help us achieve a footfall of total 60 crore.” Also, according to Kartik Taneja, Head of India Channel Sales, Google India, “In times to come, more than 70 crore people will be connected through internet. Technology is the new normal.” Then why not follow the lead! 

Related: Slow and steady wins the race

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