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The future of retail competitiveness: Smart sourcing and integrated responsive supply chains

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Supply chains in today’s world are continually under pressure for higher performance and lower costs. Companies around the world are turning towards technology to improve operational efficiencies in their warehouses, fulfillment and distribution centers.

The future of retail competitiveness: Smart sourcing and integrated responsive supply chains
Across categories, retailers who have learnt the importance of managing an efficient supply chain are gaining the competitive advantage

– an Indian startup – is one such company that dabbles in automation, primarily robotics. It is focused on transforming warehouses across the world and improving their productivity. The company has presence in Europe, South America, Japan and Asia Pacific.

The company’s vision is that bringing automation in the warehouse will not only help maximizing efforts but also in improving the lead cycle time from manufacturing to the delivery to the end consumer.

At the India Retail Forum 2017 – held on September 19th and 20th in Mumbai – retail leaders met to debate ‘The Future of Retail Competitiveness: Smart Sourcing and Integrated Responsive Supply Chains’ powered by GreyOrange. At the session, powered by GreyOrange Pte, panelists debated how in the current Omnichannel scenario, the customer is experiencing a brand in multiple ways and it is important to adopt automation that can reduce the lead time and deliver the product at the right time.

The roundtable was led by a presentation by , Country Manager-India GreyOrange Pte and moderated by Suresh Chugh, Head Logistics, Raymond Apparel Limited. The panelists included , SCM Head, ; Sebin Thomas, Head Supply Chain Management, Hypercity; Mukesh Anjaria, ; , Head Merchandising and Supply Chain, ; , Logistics Procurement Lead Asia Pacific AMEA, ; , UP CAM Business Development, .

Across categories, retailers who have learnt the importance of managing an efficient supply chain are gaining the competitive advantage. From fresh ways to use data to new technology, getting to grips with the methods driving change in the industry are helping retailers quickly gain ground.

Vikrant Yadav, Country Manager-India GreyOrange Pte kickstarted the debated by talking about how his company is transforming warehouses. “We have seen technology being employed at the manufacturing level at a great scale today. We have also seen that technology being applied to access consumer behavior in the market and from a sales perspective. The only thing which is left in between where technology has not been so widely accepted is the warehouse. This is a place where a lot of capital is stuck, where technology enforcement can bring it back live into our businesses. Our endeavor has been to create ROIs and give more value to customers. Bringing automation in the warehouse will not only help in maximizing effort but also improving the lead cycle time from manufacturing to the delivery to the end consumer.”

Yadav further defined point saying, “Retailers are always talking about their plans for 2020. What we need to understand is that the need to bring in automation at the warehouse level is the only way to embrace this future and actually achieve 2020 targets.”

Suresh Chugh, Head Logistics, Raymond Apparel Limited, asked the panelists about the scope of digitalization and artificial intelligence, robotics and automation process at distribution centres – the last mile of delivery in any business.

Shailesh Solkar, Head Merchandising and Supply Chain, Trent, answered this saying, “In the current Omnichannel scenario, the customer is experiencing your brand in multiple ways. What is most important from the customer point of view – above product and pricing – is availability and the lead time of service. So, it’s very important to adopt automation which can reduce lead time and deliver products when they are needed.”

Sebin Thomas, Head Supply Chain Management, Hypercity hinted at a change in the way of thinking, saying: “In new age businesses, the ‘on-time concept’ becomes much more important. If we see internally within the business and externally with the customers, the Omnichannel way is defying any convention. In short you can’t have different process running for different channels. Technology and its implementation at every level are the only way to merge all processes together so that it can improvise the overall productivity. In the meanwhile, we see progress as investments and the time taken to implement technology is becoming more comfortable for organisations in general.”

Agreeing and sharing his view, Jayanta Ghatak, SCM Head, Shop CJ Network India, said, “We have to give as much convenience to customers as they demand. While this is a difficult proposition for a company, it is also the way to success. Businesses need to clearly identify how information will flow across different channels and how technology can help them do the same.”

He further stressed on the importance of adaptation of Artificial Intelligence to improve the supply chain logistics of a growing company.

Manish Lal, Logistics Procurement Lead Asia Pacific AMEA, Mondelez added to the discussion saying, “If the customer experiences improve, they will make the company win. For retailers to succeed in the industry they require collaboration with others in the industry. Retailers require a 3PL which can be customized at the last mile which is closer to the customer. For this, retailers also need a logistics partner who is also flexible and has different fleets that can be tracked. Nevertheless, the efficiency of the whole supply chain has to be met to fulfill these wishes.”

Sougoto Shome, UP CAM Business Development, Future Supply Chain described his journey saying, “Future Supply Chains had built its biggest warehouse in 2011-12 and at that point we were doing some 30-40,000 pieces of apparel from six different warehouses. At the peak of business, we would sometimes touch 70-80,000 pieces per day. Today we do 3 to 4 lakh pieces in a day and touch peaks of 5 to 6 lakh per day as well. We are able to do this because we started using technology. This improved our sorting efficiencies by 30-35 percent. We have evaluated our centers and we feel that we will be running out of the capacity very soon. To ensure that doesn’t happen, we have built a cross-belt sorter in Nagpur. This enables us to sort 1 million pieces per day.”

“Today investing in such technology becomes a bottleneck for many companies whereas if you look at the ROI it will be profitable in the 4-5 years with an investment in technology. The perception has to change and the technology investment for any company is a planned process,” he said, aptly concluding the debate.