April 28, 2008, 12:00 AM

India’s largest retailer puts new focus on U.S. online market

FutureBazaar.com, the main retail site of India’s largest retailer, Pantaloon Retail, plans to relaunch on a new e-commerce platform this summer in an effort to better serve Indian consumers in the U.S. as well as in India, CEO Sankarson Banerjee says.

FutureBazaar.com, the main retail site of India’s largest retailer, Pantaloon Retail, expects to relaunch on a new e-commerce platform this summer in a move to better serve Indian consumers in the U.S. as well as in India, CEO Sankarson Banerjee says.

As a mass merchant selling products ranging from books and apparel to consumer electronics and home furnishings, FutureBazaar projects $18 million in sales this year. It also expects strong growth within India as well as among Indian consumers in the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom to grow online sales to more than $200 million by 2011. “About 20% of those sales will be to Indian consumers in the U.S., Canada and the U.K.,” Banerjee says.

FutureBazaar.com ships only to addresses within India, and is targeting Indians living abroad who buy things for friends and relatives back home. It chose to relaunch this year on an e-commerce platform from Art Technology Group Inc., or ATG, because of the flexibility it offers to add capacity and e-commerce features to accommodate growth, Banerjee says. ATG will replace FutureBazaar’s existing SAP e-commerce platform, but will retain SAP technology for back-end operations like fulfillment and warehouse management, he adds.

FutureBazaar also plans to launch a mobile version of its web site as early as December to support mobile shopping-a service being used by a rapidly growing base of Indian cell phone subscribers, Banerjee says.

Banerjee also is actively promoting India as a growing e-commerce market for U.S.-based retailers, and will address an ATG user’s conference this week about opportunities in selling to the Indian market.

E-commerce is poised to grow about 300% within India to about $12 billion over the next three years, supported by the 60% of current online consumers there who are between the ages of 19 and 30, a spokesperson for FutureBazaar says. The country now has about 46 million online consumers, up about 40% from two years ago, and expects 75% of its online population to have broadband Internet access by the end of this year, she adds. Studies have shown that consumers with broadband spend more online.

Pantaloon Retail India is a part of the India-based Future Group holding company.

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