The strategic alignment of end-to-end solutions to leave an impact on the customers and industry at large lies at the heart of every retail business. As a veteran player in the global retail industry, LOTS Wholesale Solutions understands this well and also gets that delivery is becoming a basic service requirement for its customers. In staying true to the vision of customer centricity, which is its core motto, LOTS’ supply chain management is flexible, scalable and sustainable to incur the constant change in the retail landscape, customer needs, and behaviour.
Tanit Chearavanont, Managing Director, LOTS Wholesale Solutions, talks on the working of its supply chain, technology involved, problems faced and a lot more. Excerpts from the chat…
Elaborate the role of technology in procurement, distribution, inventory management, inventory turnover and delivery.
Working in an environment of digital disruptions with technology transforming daily business processes, retailers are strengthening their supply chain with innovative tools like real-time tracking, accurate delivery systems and mobile technology. Additionally, investments in the supply chain help them stay in-sync with the needs and demands of their customers.
PROCUREMENT – Catering to the highly competitive consumer-focused environment, our efforts are concentrated to provide the right products for each of our different customers’ demands. We have adopted advance procurement strategies and technologies that go far beyond the traditional focus on just cost savings efforts and thus have become the first B2B retailer to open a warehouse to ensure product availability 24×7. In India, our approach is to replicate our global collection centre model by opening collection centre at multiple locations. For procurement and replenishment, we also have in-house systems which automatically creates purchase orders based on set parameters managed by our supply chain. Additionally, our suppliers are connected through a portal (LOTS S2P) to provide real-time visibility into purchase orders and shipment of the goods.
DISTRIBUTION – We have always been a step ahead in providing seamless shopping experiences, right from tech-enabling our workforce to digitising the back-end solutions at our stores. Our first of its kind business development application is enabling us to reach out to a wider audience in India, this helps us personalise our distribution strategy. To serve our customers better, we are also digitising our distribution networks and using geo-tagging to ensure quick and on time delivery of our products. Our warehouse is managed with a customised WMS catering to the specific need of cash-and-carry which is integrated with our Master Data, Procurement and Inventory Management systems. Our systems are set-up to automatically allocate stock basis customer demand at our stores and trigger a physical shipment of goods.
INVENTORY MANAGEMENT – Inventory management is a crucial aspect for us and our marketing analytics tools along with our business development application are simplifying the process. This enables us to stock products and maintain a larger inventory to providing a vast assortment of products as per customer’s need. We aim to be less dependent on third parties and focus on buying in bulk directly from the manufacturers. thus providing more transparency and cost benefits to our customers.
INVENTORY TURNOVER – Owing to our expertise in the food segment, our focus will continue to be on delivering freshness to our customers across segments. We will continue to keep enhancing the supply chain and focusing on optimising costs.
DELIVERY – Our delivery service consists of an unloading facility at the shop, free packaging support, easy returns and a call centre with a stringent turnaround time for complaint re-dressal. Being a responsible member of the corporate community, we are implementing sustainable solutions with CNG trucks for transportation and looking to introduce electric trucks as well.
How are your supply chain, logistics and warehousing facilities different as compared to other players in the same category?
Staying ahead of the curve, our supply chain is flexible and scalable thus creating an ability to scale-up basis higher volumes, geographical expansion and add an array of services as and when required. As per our cluster approach for expansion, we are opening stores in catchment areas of the city centres and further experimenting with smaller store formats vis-a-vis the usual cash and carry thus helping us create a stronger footprint in each region. We have become the only cash & carry player to implement a full-fledged distribution network to handle multiple product types catering to the demand from our stores and deliver a shorter turn-around time. To make our delivery faster, our trucks are designed to carry fully palletised lots with department ready pallets which can instantly replenish our store shelves. Our centre has real-time visibility of the shipment arriving at the store including the details of the SKU-wise quantities to meet customer demand.
What have been your biggest pain points in supply chain, logistics, and warehousing and how has technology helped you solve this?
Supply chain being the most crucial aspect of any business, the industry has a cascading impact on trade and retail sector. A modernised and efficient supply chain is an essential part of improving ease of doing business and will scale down the cost of manufacturing and accelerate consumer consumption due to better market access. Banking upon this opportunity, we are constantly improving our supply chain with our expansion in India. Being in our first year of operations, there were certain challenges in terms of streamlining our processes. However, our preliminary market research has enabled us to localise our approach by using global practices which led to creating strong supply chain management across our stores. Keeping innovation at the core, we are constantly implementing technology to serve the changing needs of customers to deliver best price and quality with a focus on inventory management. This has further helped us to control and monitor our processes at every step of the way.