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E-enabling retail India

Aniket Kavathekar
Saturday, April 30, 2005
Aniket Kavathekar
The retail world is observing a change in India with major players in queue for IT solutions. IT helps retailers streamline their business with software tools for managing a supply chain.

These tools act as an invisible link that delivers high amounts of information in a matter of seconds, manage millions of customers all across India. The men responsible for these important developments are chief technology officers like T.M. Unnikrishnan of Shopper’s Stop and Alok Verma of ITC Wills Lifestyle (WLS).

Shopper’s Stop and WLS are part of India’s organized retail business which is only 3 percent of the overall retail market. The top three of the organized sections occupy 750,000 square feet of the retail place where more than 400,000 shoppers visit every week to seek good deals from thousands of merchandise offered by renowned brands. Managing such a capacious business requires the most innovative technology.

IT helps the retailers by bringing in process visibility across warehouses and stores. Shopper’s Stop and WLS are exploring multiple avenues where IT can help create a niche for their brands. The systems are called Supply Chain Management systems (SCM). WLS uses Infobahn VPN; Shopper’s Stop uses JDA and Crossword bookstore (also implemented by Unnikrishnan’s team) uses MOVEX. Shopper’s Stop and WLS invested six to seven percent of the revenues, in IT systems and that investment has turned into an asset for them.

These systems keep the momentum of supply chains. Customers feel happy because of high-speed transactions at billing counters. In Shopper’s Stop, transaction time is much lower than India’s average of 20 minutes. The servers also work around the clock, with 99 percent uptime. WLS claims 100 percent uptime.
Shopper’s Stop, WLS, Pantaloon and other retailers must manage growing business in addition to improving systems efficiency which includes managing store inventory, supply delivery from the warehouse to store, purchase deals with franchisee as well as manufacturers and maintaining the cash registers.

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