Implement Innovations, Innovate Implementations

by Sunil Nair - VP-Technology , Max Hypermarket

In today’s age of disruptive innovations, IT is playing a much imperative role than ever in contributing towards the top line and bottom line of business. With consumers going highly tech savvy, there has been a rise in demand of seamless shopping experience across multiple channels looking for online access to in-store products, features, inventory information with various flexible options such as in-store products, features, inventory information with various flexible options such as in-store pick up, home delivery, cash on delivery and others. IT is playing pivotal role especially in retail sector as the nature of business is complex with huge volume of transaction data and 365 days operation.

Countering Challenges with ERP Solutions

The major challenge that retailers, especially in hypermarkets space face is to improve the sales and margins in a highly competitive environment. Retailers today are working towards integrating their back-end technologies, sharing analytics between channels and training in-store employees to provide competitive shopping experience in Omni-channel environment. They are investing heavily in innovation and implementation of cutting edge technologies to achieve scalability and agility in the diversified retail business to remain competitive and profitable.

 

We are addressing these challenges by leveraging innovative technology solutions which are helping in optimizing the inventory positions, increasing stock turns, reducing stock-outs and shrinkages and improving overall supply chain operational efficiencies in the dynamic retail business.

 

We have recently implemented and rolled out the best in class ERP solution which provides holistic view of entire retail operations in near real time basis and helps business to take informed decisions at right time. The ERP consists of eleven different modules that provide robust, agile and scalable technology solutions to key business functions such as Buying and merchandising, Supply chain, Store Operations, Marketing and Finance. This was the first end to end ERP implementation of its kind for any Hypermarket chain in India. The challenges were unique specially looking at the complexities of different business processes for different categories of Hypermarket. This project was one of the fastest (in around nine months timeframe from design to Go-live) implementation with significant customizations for any hypermarket in the world. It has provided a solid platform with centralized architecture to business for the future growth and expansions.

From Innovations to Implementations

We regularly reach out to our internal and external customers/stakeholders to understand their pain points and come up with technological solutions to overcome the same. For example: Recently we have developed a web and mobile based Quote management solution to connect our commodity buyers with their respective suppliers through tablets and smart phones. This supply side innovation is going to help our business in collating and finalizing the best prices in a transparent and paperless manner by simulating a buying auction environment leading to greater transparency and huge savings in manual effort of buyers and suppliers with the help of technology.

 

Similarly, we have also implemented Business Intelligence (BI) Retail solution for the analytics and informed decision making purpose. It is helping business in providing a holistic view of entire retail operation from a single source and thus enabling to make quick and informed decisions. BI solution has eliminated manual efforts in collating data from different sources drastically and also has reduced dependency on IT for MIS reporting to a greater extent. Pre-configured business metrics and KPIs are readily available for the business analysis purposes and adding tremendous value to the business.

Future IT Initiatives at SPAR

Our IT strategy is completely aligned with business objectives and goals. We have recently got a mandate to enable online model as we wanted to provide omni-channel shopping experience to customers keeping freshness as unique value proposition. We are working towards integrating our back-end ERP with front end online solutions and training in-store employees to provide competitive shopping experience in omni-channel environment. This project is expected to be rolled out in next few months.

 

Additionally, we are in the process of implementing vendor collaboration portal for seamless data exchange between SPAR and its vendors covering all touch points. This is going to reduce manual efforts in collating the data at both the ends. This initiative will take us to next level of supply chain i.e from integrated enterprise to extended enterprise. Apart from these, we are looking forward to implement advance inventory planning, demand forecasting, and optimization modules in next financial year. These modules will give us competitive advantage in optimizing inventory levels/pricing/ promotions etc. based on advanced algorithms. (As told to Deepshikha Singh)