Innovation for Retail Mammoths

It is raining technologies in retail: Shoppers Stop gets the taste of mobicule as it goes mobile
m-commerce

Shoppers Stop Limited was founded by K Raheja Corp in 1991 laying the foundation of the modern retail industry in India. It started operations with the first store in suburban Mumbai and is now a multi-channel retailer with 37 large format department stores and online presence.

Innovation being the key driver, Shopper’s Stop has a new philosophy of "Start Something New" to give retail a new dimension. They endeavor to Start Something New in performance. Start Something New in products. Start Something New in customer service. Start Something New in Life.

In a country of the size and diversity as India the key challenge for any retail chain and manufacturer to expand manifold is to setup an effective and successful communication network. Thus this time Shopper’s Stop decided to start something new - Get mobile enabled!

Being a large retail giant Shoppers Stop has Distribution Centers (DC) spread over lakhs of square feet all across India to cater to the requirements at its country wide stores. Prior to mobilizing their warehouses the process followed at warehouses was completely manual and engaged a large manpower for operations and for supervision. As and when the requirements were raised by stores, the DC supervisors used to receive a pick-list of merchandise. This pick-list was printed and then issued to pickers, who had to manually check the racks for finding an item of a particular style, size and colour. Many a times, the picker would get a wrong item. In this set-up, the global quantities used to match, but the customers were not getting what they wanted. To keep a check on this, Shoppers Stop also had another team verifying the stock picked by the picker. All this used to delay the turnaround time and increased stock outs at stores. To add to this problem lot of the work at the DC was outsourced to third party logistics and it was necessary to measure and ensure overall productivity of the people, however with the manual processes there was a complete lack of visibility on the tasks being carried out at the DC’s

The company had rolled out a warehouse management system in 1998, which was part of the JDA MMS merchandise management system. "That served its purpose quite admirably for some period of time, however, as our scale of operations increased, we felt the need for further automation of our processes related to the warehouse," says Ranjit Satyanath, customer care associate and general manager, Solutions & Technology, Shoppers Stop.

Mobicule with its rich experience of enterprise mobility presented a concept of ‘Centralization, Control and Efficiency’ to Shoppers Stop through its mwarehouse product. Using mwarehouse the DC workforce now logs in to the central server over the wireless network using hand-held computers, and downloads tasks, which have been assigned to them. As and when a particular task is completed, a report is submitted on the mobile computer, which gets automatically updated on the central server and their MMS over the network. This central server tightly integrates with backend ERP systems, JDA in case of shoppers and keeps data in sync real-time. Effectively the entire process is seamless from the backend ERP to the central task management server right down to the mobile device.

DC managers based at different locations can now log on to the DCMS using a Web interface, which provides the basic workbench for managing all DC activities for the day. This granular view across all DCs is also available to the central supply chain team and members are able to react on a real-time basis. "When we decided to develop this application, we were clear that the cost had to be low and hence, we built the entire architecture using open source technologies," says Satyanath.

The benefits received were tremendous. It helped Shoppers Stop improve efficiency. There were lower errors resulting in 17% lowering of stock outs, near 100% accuracy in store dispatches and improved employee productivity with a more streamlined workforce is what was recorded. In addition, there were huge savings in hardware to be deployed at the DC and lower initial and recurring software costs through use of open source, accurate information updated in the ERP - streamlining the entire chain and real-time monitoring of the entire process centrally and at the DC.

Some of the early adopters of Mobicule’s technology starting from the Nokia’s largest distributor in Mumbai Sektra Marketing going up to Shoppers Stop have already started realizing the benefits.

In the current age of cut-throat competition and price wars which all consumer goods companies face - Mobicule solutions comes as a key piece to augment the companies growth, reduce the sales cycle, cut costs and have real time information for better decision making. Shoppers Stop has taken the leap and equipped itself given its aggressive growth plan. They are positive that this will give long term benefits and will add to the company’s bottom line.

The world is increasingly going mobile, and this is the right time to harness the immense power of mobile technologies to solve compelling business problems!

(This is a case study provided by Mobicule Technologies)

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