HyperCITY Retail India, a unit of K Raheja, has ambitious plans to expand its presence across the country. While the company already has three stores in Mumbai (Malad), Navi Mumbai and Jaipur, it plans to commence three more in the current year. Along with these expansion plans, the company is simultaneously updating its IT set-up to offer best customer service. Veneeth Purshottaman, business head-Technology, HyperCITY, in discussion with Biztech2.com, talks about the company’s latest IT initiatives.
What IT initiatives is HyperCITY looking at in the current year?
Being in the retail industry and operating in a huge format like HyperCITY involves extensive use of technology. IT plays a critical role right from the point when the customer walks in till the time he checks out. This year we are planning to change the point-of-sale (POS) system. We are currently using JDA’s Win/ DSS POS application. We are planning to switch to Oracle solutions called Oracle 360Commerce.
What is the need for a new POS system?
Using WIN/ DSS over the years we have realised that it suits a departmental store format more then the hypermarket format. Our biggest pain area was ‘promotion’, as hypermarkets need a lot of promotion as compared to a departmental or book store. This was the primary reason to look for a new POS system. After a thorough assessment, we decided to deploy 360Commerce from Oracle.
We took this decision last year and despite the difficult economic times, we are going ahead with the implementation. The need for a new POS has emerged out of our primary objective of enhancing the customer experience. This will help us to offer best promotions, increase the check-out speed and realise other benefits.
What are the other significant initiatives?
We recently launched the discovery club programme, which is a loyalty programme for HyperCITY customers. We plan to deploy a lot of customer front-end applications like kiosks where customers can enjoy all the latest promotions and offers meant only for discovery club members. We are also exploring interesting technologies like mobile and kiosks to further enhance customer service.
What kind of potential do you see in mobile technology?
There are a lot of things, which you can do with mobile technology. Technology vendors have been propagating ideas like the moment customer walks in, he can be tracked. If his Bluetooth is on, promotions can be sent to his phone. SMS can be used to throw promotions on customers’ mobiles; they can also use mobiles to scan products on the shelf etc. There is no end to the possibilities, which mobile technology could offer. But how much of it is practically possible? How much of it can be done without spoiling the customer experience, without interfering or intruding into his privacy; these are pertinent factors which retailers need to consider. Retailers can also send targeted promotions based on the intelligence provided by the systems; however, if anything other than relevant, targeted promotions is sent, it is going to be deleted by customers.
Any significant IT initiatives on the supply chain front?
We are seriously looking at B2B enablement. In fact, along with the Shoppers Stop group, we have set up a B2B portal where in almost 200 to 300 vendors have already registered. Currently, it offers very basic features like making certain data available to vendors so that they don’t need to chase buyers for information. Generally, they would have to chase buyers to find out whether their order was received or not, whether payment has been made etc. Besides, they can also check the availability of stock and sales, which would help them to understand the performance of a particular SKU or product.
The next step would be to increase the integration with vendor systems, to make processes simpler and more effective. We also recently looked at making our distribution centres (DC) more automated. The entire process from the time things enter the DC gate till they are shifted to stores has now been automated.
How do you see the CIO’s role emerging in current difficult times?
In current circumstances, IT has a big role to play. CIO is in a vantage position as he gets to see all the information and processes. He is the best person, who can use this information to suggest ways for cutting costs without affecting business performance.
In these times, I feel that there will be some challenges for every IT head in every vertical while getting budgets sanctioned. This will be particularly evident in retail, because it is a consumption-led market and in these times, consumption is going down. Thus in retail, the focus would definitely be on optimising processes and extracting maximum juice from existing technology investments.
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Updated Date: Jun 09, 2009 17:56:56 IST