IT In The Malls



Organized
retailing in India has been hogging the limelight and dedicated focus from all
big and small IT vendors. There have been significant trends in customized
software for the retail segment and developers are honing their skills and
expertise to cater not only to the domestic market but also winning projects
outside the country.

Best Practices for 2006
  • Evaluate scalability and user
    adaptability before any new deployment. 

  • Keep the focus on the end user,
    as eventually it also has to reflect on customer satisfaction.

  • Meet the business needs and RoI.

  • Continuous development,
    improvement and innovation on existing systems.

  • Security at the network at user
    interface level.

  • Focus on new big-scope
    initiatives such as data integration, business intelligence (BI),
    portals and POS upgrades that enable data visibility across processes
    and channels.

  • Invest in more leading-edge
    technologies such as in-store kiosks and handhelds, RFID, and
    merchandizing planning tools.

But the
CIOs from the retail industry have their own challenges, glory moments and the
path ahead to trudge, to keep in sync with the rapidly expanding industry. With
the market getting more and more competitive and global giants such as Wal-Mart
waiting to feast, the industry is at its toes to not only stay ahead of
competition but also stave off the international giants. And strategic and
timely use of IT is the only reliable support. 

While
the biggest advancement is online retailing, it is still not completely adapted
in India. The industry is highly complex, as it caters to geographies, age, and
varied lifestyles across segments with a huge product line. There is high up
selling and cross selling in this industry. Here business intelligence (BT) has
been playing a critical role. The success lies in providing the right product at
the right place at the right time with a price tag acceptable to the customer.

The
more popular tools cater to trend analysis, customer user pattern, purchase,
promotion management, and life cycle analysis. Retailers are extensively using
BI tools and relevant new technologies integrated with the existing ERP, SCM and
CRM applications that enable them to identify key shoppers, and their needs and
interests. More and more front-end technology is also being used to enable
faster clearance. The advent of customer loyalty programs offered by all
retailers to extend benefits to retain and have loyal customers is a direct
result of these business analyses.

Use of
BI tools has made the campaigns and promotions associated with the stores more
focused to target customers at all levels. eCommerce (eg, inventory visibility,
on-site merchandising and cross-selling, price comparison, and multi-channel
congruity) is the next phase of evolution in the industry and will employ tools
and technologies to better understand customers and cater efficiently and
effectively to their needs.

Consulting Panel

Anil
Shankar
, IT Manager, Shopper’s Stop

Amit
Gupta
, Sr Manager, IT, Pantaloon


A
centrally networked infrastructure with 100% network uptime offers precise
information related to merchandise, logistics, online customers and helps in
reducing the turnaround time required to take quick decisions. MPLS-VPN networks
are the more recent trends connecting the stores. The trend on the application
front continues to be PoS (retail back-office) applications like REM (retail
enterprise module).

The
CIOs are looking at deploying solutions to bring down the cost of communication
and the time to market to the customers. Constant innovation around these
solutions is what CIOs are working on.

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