Use of advance IT systems and tools—The use of advance IT systems and tools in Indian retail sector is still limited, a more enhanced utilisation of these IT tools can help in achieving significant benefits such as:
Integration of various partners within the supply chain
Information sharing among different partners in real time
Effective monitoring and reporting through BI (Business Intelligence) tools
IT Planning tools to improve effectiveness of supply chain planning
Specific advance systems such as warehouse management or transport
management systems to improve supply chain efficiencies
The use of IT in retail operations
Retail participants in India vary according to size, format and segments they operate in (i.e., ‘kiranas’, cash and carry, supermarkets, hypermarkets, specialty outlets, etc.). Similarly, the IT adoption across retailers, such as those in food & grocery, home furnishing, luxury, specialty, etc. varies. A number of modern trade retailers have applications and hardware related to Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) stores, warehouse and point of sale (POS) which automate a large part of the retail operations. However, successful retailers will use these systems which are used and leverage them to provide the differentiation that is so critical to compete and to be profitable.
To add to the complexity, organised retail is not solely an urban phenomenon. Some retailers have ventured into organised rural retail. Beginning as retailers for core products, they have, with time, evolved into multi-product stores catering to the needs of rural residents that go beyond farming. Addressing the complexities of operation and keeping costs under control is a major concern for retailers in India. Managing the supply chain, backward integration, merchandising, planning and fulfillment, maximising footfall to conversion ratios and average bill value, and workforce management are some of the major issues facing retails. Once retailers have successfully reached scale, they want to increase reach. The question that most retailers are asking now is how to build a strong IT backbone that can support the optimisation in these areas.
Some retailers have had the opportunity to learn from other retailers outside India and implement most current IT systems to support and scale operations. This has enabled Indian retailers to generate operational efficiency, increase productivity and improve customer experience. Like with other emerging industries, this has been a learning process with retailers overcoming on-ground realities.