NEC India, a leading provider to audience across various verticals, had incepted the retail business in 2008. The company is providing hardware and software solutions including point-of-sale, analytics solutions and planning to add some at the back-end as well. In an interaction with Images Retai, Zubair Alam, country head, and Amit Bhatia, business head-retail solutions,NEC India, discuss the relevance of technology in retail and the company’s solutions to enhance customer experience.
How important is technology for modern retailers?
Technology is very important for retailers especially in today’s competitive world. With the advent of FDI, domestic players will start facing competition. They have to gear up with this challenge as international players are already using technology. Secondly, even customers are becoming tech-savvy, they are more on social media. In case retailers have to run any promotion/marketing activity, they should also divert their investment and better be present on digital rather than traditional media.
Moreover, customer experience is becoming very crucial for a retailer. If they are looking for customer satisfaction and repeat visit, they have to deploy technology to reduce time of particular transaction. Customer loyalty can be measured today through the way retailers interact with the customers and that is based on the technology deployed.
What are the current trends in the Indian retail sector in the context of technology?
In the hardware “mobility” and in software “omnichannel” is the way forward. For example, in department stores such as Shoppers Stop and Lifestyle, cosmetic sections are designed separately; when customers want to buy something they don’t bill it immediately, instead will be given the voucher to go and pay at the billing counter. During this long procedure, more than 50 percent of the customers, who happened to be females, change their mind because it is more of an impulse purchase and not the planned one. So, half of the sale is not realised, though it was intended. And if the cosmetic counter itself is having point-of-sale and printer, the billing can happen then and there and it saves time for the customer as well.
Where do Indian retailers stand in terms of technology adoption?
Indian retailers are at par with their international counterparts in terms of technology adoption. Whatever trends are here in India, are basically the global ones. Rather adoption here is much faster than other developed countries.
What kind of solutions does NEC offer to Indian retailers?
We have divided our offerings into three parts – front-end solutions, analytics and back-end solutions. Our front-end solutions or point of sales softwares are for convenience stores. Then we have ERP solutions for QSRs. These are the two package solutions we have for front-end.
Then we have analytics, which can be used to know the consumer behaviour – how many people walked in the store, consumer behaviour and interests. In addition to normal analytics it also gives you counting, gender and age.
On back-end front, there is a vacuum right now, but we are soon going to fi ll that also. Our focus is to give one-stop solution to retail. We also have near fi led communication (NFC) technology on a payment front.
Are these solutions customized according to each category (segment) that retailers operate in?
The front-end solutions are the package solutions, so we don’t do any customization on that as these are meant for mass market. But as far as ERP solutions are concerned, we will do customization there. Wherever there has to be a value add, we will do modifi cation and configuration.
Who is your target audience? Do you provide technical assistance to SMEs as well?
We are targeting not only retailers, but also telecom, insurance and toll plazas; wherever billing takes place we want to be in that segment. We have an offering for tier II and III cities also. The players in these areas are feeling pressure due to the announcement of FDI, as for international players like Walmart and Carrefour the target market is mainly tier III cities. For small retailers, the easiest way is to start with the atomisation of front end, they are not much concerned about the back-end as it has already been taken care of by these global players.
Can retailers measure ROI on the technology being used? How?
It varies from client to client. Some measure it on the basis of down time, while others on transaction time reduced. With these parameters they can measure it.
Please tell us about your clientele.
We power 53,000 stores globally which would include US, Middle East, Japan and other markers as well. In India, we are serving Mumbai airport and some parts of Delhi international airport. In entertainment space, we have SRS, DT Cinemas, PVR, INOX; in F&B, Haldiram’s, TFS, Dunkin Donuts, among others. We have global clients including 7-Evelen, Circle K, Landmark, etc.
Do you have some offerings for mom-and-pop stores as well?
We have solutions for them as well; however, our mode of delivery is different. We have set of channel partners who go and sell to these stores.
What kind of challenges are you facing in this space?
For new technology, you have to face some challenges. It took time for NFC adoption and experimentation. But in terms of hardware, there are no such challenges because we have a range of products to fi t the bills. At solutions front also, we are not facing any such problems.
What are your future plans?
We are in the process of strengthening our solution portfolio. Wherever we feel there is a gap, like in fashion and lifestyle space, we will tie up with global players and will represent their solutions in India. This year we target to have 60 percent addressable market share.