Tech­nol­ogy’s role in de­liv­er­ing the right shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ence is be­com­ing ex­tremely sig­nif­i­cant and an im­per­a­tive for re­tail­ers

Ushasri Tirumala, Se­nior Vice Pres­i­dent and Gen­eral Man­ager, Man­hat­tan As­so­ci­ates de­mys­ti­fyies the SCM mar­ket and so­lu­tions land­scape and how it is chang­ing the scheme of things in the retail in­dus­try. Ex­cerpts

Dataquest - - CONTENTS - —USHASRI TIRUMALA Se­nior Vice Pres­i­dent and Gen­eral Man­ager, Man­hat­tan As­so­ci­ates

How are you lever­ag­ing In­dia for your op­er­a­tions? Man­hat­tan As­so­ci­ates In­dia Op­er­a­tions, also known as the In­dia In­no­va­tion Cen­tre was set up in 2002 in Ban­ga­lore and cur­rently em­ploys around 1200 as­so­ci­ates. We work in a dis­trib­uted setup with in­no­va­tion teams across both US and In­dia of­fices. A ma­jor part of en­gi­neer­ing and in­no­va­tion work hap­pens from Ban­ga­lore of­fice. The In­dian op­er­a­tions sup­port R&D, Pro­fes­sional Ser­vices, Cus­tomer Sup­port & Cloud Ser­vices for Global cus­tomers across Amer­i­cas, EMEA and APAC re­gions. Can you de­mys­tify the current sup­ply chain land­scape as tra­di­tional retail shades out and we need new SCM for the new nor­mal dig­i­tal age? The emer­gence of dig­i­tal na­tives, so­phis­ti­cated con­sumer tech­nol­ogy and omni-chan­nel cus­tomer be­hav­iors are re­defin­ing com­merce and the tech­nol­ogy re­quired to man­age a modern, mul­ti­chan­nel sup­ply chain. 2017 was an event­ful year which saw many re­tail­ers across the globe ex­per­i­ment with new age tech­nolo­gies that are re­defin­ing the way or­ga­ni­za­tions man­age their in­ven­tory, al­lo­cate re- sources and de­liver cus­tomer delight at ev­ery touch­point, be it on­line or off­line. In 2018 and be­yond, tech­nol­ogy pow­ered sup­ply chains will play a pivotal role in nav­i­gat­ing through this new com­merce land­scape to en­able omni-chan­nel ex­pe­ri­ence and sin­gle view of in­ven­tory across mul­ti­ple chan­nels and net­works. One will also see emerg­ing tech­nolo­gies such as Ma­chine Learn­ing, Pre­dic­tive An­a­lyt­ics, IOT etc. start­ing to pro­vide more ca­pa­bil­i­ties to en­hance in­sights and cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence.

In the Store :For most modern re­tail­ers, the need to move to an om­nichan­nel op­er­a­tions model is a given in or­der to com­pete for the con­nected con­sumer. The en­able­ment of the store net­work as dis­tri­bu­tion points for in­ven­tory should be an ad­van­tage against on­line com­peti­tors that have no phys­i­cal foot­print. How­ever, with­out investment in sys­tems de­signed for om­nichan­nel from the start, those stores be­gin to drag mar­gins down in­stead of rais­ing them up, be­cause of all the ap­pease­ments and work­arounds re­quired to de­liver on the cus­tomer prom­ise.

In the Ware­house: In the ware­house, it is all about op­ti­miz­ing your tra­di­tional DCs for om­nichan­nel. In the past, dis­tri­bu­tion cen­ters sim­ply shipped mer­chan­dise to retail-

ers. To­day’s DCs must be able to han­dle ecom­merce or­ders as well.

What are the best prac­tices you ad­vo­cate for re­tail­ers to evolve to the next level and cre­ate a seam­less omni chan­nel strat­egy?

Tech­nol­ogy’s role in de­liv­er­ing the right shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ence is be­com­ing ex­tremely sig­nif­i­cant and an im­per­a­tive for re­tail­ers. Dig­i­tal-savvy cus­tomers ex­pect re­tail­ers to de­liver an en­gag­ing cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence both in-store and on­line. Re­tail­ers that cre­ate strong dig­i­tal ex­pe­ri­ences will at­tract new cus­tomers and gain their loy­alty. Hence, so­lu­tions that en­able the omni-chan­nel ex­pe­ri­ence while op­ti­miz­ing current busi­ness op­er­a­tions and pro­vid­ing a sin­gle view of global in­ven­tory are a ne­ces­sity.

Real-time in­ven­tory sourc­ing op­ti­miza­tion -- be­ing able to de­liver om­nichan­nel prof­itably is needed to sur­vive, and only 10% of in­dus­try lead­ers be­lieve they can make a profit while ful­fill­ing om­nichan­nel de­mand. The rea­son is be­cause re­tail­ers are trying to de­liver very com­plex ca­pa­bil­i­ties with so­lu­tions that were de­signed when 4 or 5 dis­tri­bu­tion cen­ters was con­sid­ered so­phis­ti­cated. Most of the so­lu­tions be­ing used to­day were never de­signed with om­nichan­nel in mind, and re­quire a tremen­dous amount of ef­fort, bal­ing wire and scotch tape to pull off; and ev­ery one of those ap­pease­ments or work­arounds erodes prof­itabil­ity.

There is no way for a hu­man to con­sider the num­ber of con­straints re­quired to­day to de­ter­mine the most prof­itable way to source an item, when hun­dreds of op­tions are avail­able and many of them are ac­tive stores serv­ing a lo­cal mar­ket. So how do we de­cide where to source the item? Heuris­tic com­puter prob­lem-solv­ing cre­ates the op­por­tu­nity to con­sider thou­sands of po­ten­tial op­tions in real-time to de­ter­mine the most prof­itable op­tion.

How is Cloud chang­ing the scheme of things?

It’s not just tech­nol­ogy that is mov­ing faster. The na­ture of relationships be­tween re­tail­ers and cus­tomers, ware­houses and as­so­ci­ates, and car­ri­ers and ship­pers is chang­ing quickly. The cloud makes it eas­ier to get trans­for­ma­tional tech­nol­ogy into the hands of users and keep it up­dated. So­lu­tions de­ployed on the cloud of­fer the flex­i­bil­ity, scal­a­bil­ity and a lower TCO (To­tal cost of own­er­ship) op­tion that re­tail­ers need. Given that re­tail­ers are al­ready bur­dened with strin­gent IT bud­gets, cloud so­lu­tions en­able re­tail­ers to fo­cus more on cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence rather than on CAPEX in­vest­ments of on-premise so­lu­tions.

With the ever-chang­ing retail land­scape and cus­tomer de­mands, re­tail­ers need to con­stantly up­date their strat- egy. So­lu­tions de­ployed on the cloud en­able faster de­liv­ery of in­no­va­tion to the mar­ket. With ac­cess to the lat­est tech­nol­ogy ver­sions, up­grades are vir­tu­ally a non-event in so­lu­tions de­ployed on the cloud. Re­tail­ers can fo­cus on the right strat­egy in the field rather than wor­ry­ing about tech­nol­ogy up­grades and changes. So­lu­tions de­ployed on the cloud can not only drive op­ti­miza­tion in a low mar­gin en­vi­ron­ment but also help sus­tain competitive ad­van­tage in an ever-chang­ing en­vi­ron­ment.

For re­tail­ers who are in­ter­ested in de­liv­er­ing on their om­nichan­nel prom­ises prof­itably, Man­hat­tan As­so­ci­ates of­fers Man­hat­tan Ac­tive Omni, the most so­phis­ti­cated and tech­no­log­i­cally ad­vanced order­ing, op­ti­miza­tion and en­gage­ment plat­form ever cre­ated for the retail in­dus­try.

How is Man­hat­tan ap­proach­ing the mar­ket and your strat­egy? How do you stack up with the com­pe­ti­tion and your key dif­fer­en­tia­tors?

Man­hat­tan’s so­lu­tions re­ceived the top score in For­rester’s Omni-Chan­nel Or­der Man­age­ment Wave. Man­hat­tan As­so­ci­ates is proud to be a leader nine times in a row in the Gart­ner Magic Quad­rant for Ware­house Man­age­ment Sys­tems.

Man­hat­tan’s om­nichan­nel so­lu­tions are fo­cused on the fol­low­ing three tenets:

l Ac­tion­able cus­tomer in­sight en­riched with trans­ac­tion de­tail and pre­dic­tive ad­ver­sity iden­ti­fi­ca­tion means bet­ter en­gage­ment and en­dur­ing cus­tomer loy­alty.

l The most tech­no­log­i­cally ad­vanced or­der or­ches­tra­tion en­gine and au­to­mated in­tel­li­gent op­ti­miza­tion means re­al­iz­ing promised de­liv­ery speed and max­i­mized prof­itabil­ity.

l Uni­fied as­so­ci­ate tools for in-store cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence, in­ven­tory and ful­fill­ment mean a more skill­ful work­force and bet­ter buy­ing ex­pe­ri­ences.

Man­hat­tan’s Sup­ply Chain so­lu­tions are fo­cused on the fol­low­ing three tenets:

l Only so­lu­tion that can com­bine whole­sale, store re­plen­ish­ment and dig­i­tal or­der ful­fill­ment within the same so­lu­tion. With our so­lu­tion, one DC can dy­nam­i­cally han­dle any or­der type with re­duced or­der pro­cess­ing times.

l Only so­lu­tion to or­ches­trate ful­fill­ment tasks span­ning man and ma­chine. We know ro­bot­ics is com­ing, but we know hu­mans aren’t go­ing any­where.

l Our so­lu­tion pro­vides ac­tion­able in­sights and stream­lined mo­bile work­flows within a sin­gle so­lu­tion, max­i­mizes as­so­ci­ate pro­duc­tiv­ity.

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