India’s Future Group Cuts eCommerce Venture, Lays Off About 400

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Future Group, the Indian conglomerate headquartered in Mumbai, is downsizing its eCommerce division Retail 3.0 and laid off 350-400 workers, Livemint reported Sunday (Jan. 19), citing four sources who were former employees.

The layoffs affected sales, product development, marketing and ground operations and took place over the last few months, two sources said. The company also closed down numerous EasyDay stores, adding to the 140 closures in November. Those closures were part of the restructuring happening now, a source said.

The EasyDay app was launched at 22 stores in north India but never made it out of beta, said the two sources. As stores started closing, customers started asking for refunds.

“The idea was to convert the entire offline journey of a Future Group consumer into the online world,” founder Kishore Biyani said in 2017 regarding Retail 3.0.

By 2018 the company had 500-600 employees developing digital assets for Retail 3.0. Amazon also acquired a 9.5 percent stake in Future Group valued at ₹2,500 crore.

By 2019, Future Group made the decision to dramatically downsize its digital strategy because of sluggish sales and funding delays. 

Last week the company said that Amazon India would become the authorized online sales channel for its retail division.

A research and development division — C&D (Consumer and Digital) Labs in Bengaluru — was launched in April 2017. 

“They (C&D Labs) were developing a map of the entire journey of a Future Group consumer… basically a psychographic analysis of the buyer,” said the first source cited earlier. “For example, if we knew the age and gender and marital status of the customer, we could figure out what kind of products could be marketed to him or her from a pool of previous order history of similar customers.”

According to the second source, the lab had a workforce of about 150 people. 

Shares in Future Retail rose 13 percent on Nov. 29 following the announcement that India’s antitrust regulator approved the deal giving Amazon a minority stake in the company.