'The challenges faced by Indian retailers have increased significantly", says Souma Das, VP Sales and Managing Director, Infor, India. Boasting of approximately 400 clients in India across both the public and private sector, some of the leading retail houses of India are INFOR’s clients. The Company that has a robust channel strategy in place addresses the needs of the growing Indian market. We contacted Souma Das to learn about their plans in this regard….
Vrinda Oberai (VO): What remains to be your USP, keeping in mind the solutions you provide and the industries you cater to?
Souma Das (SD): Some software vendors have a reputation that their products are expensive, hard to implement and hard to use. At Infor, we believe that companies need solutions that help to do business better. We're currently helping more than 70,000 customers in more than 100 countries by delivering a new breed of business software: created for evolution and not revolution – software that's simple to buy, easy to deploy, and convenient to manage. And we're working hard to create better, more collaborative relationships with our potential customers.
For instance: Infor Flex (Product Upgrades) makes it easier for organizations to take advantage of Infor technology advancements by providing: Flex Upgrade to the latest release of the current solution with minimal or zero license fees and fast, cost-effective implementation services & Flex Exchange for the current Infor application for another Infor solution on a like-for-like basis, for a nominal transaction fee and very competitive services rates.
VO: Which is the industry from which you receive maximum number of demand when it comes to providing various business solutions? Also, which the business solutions which are a priority with retailers currently?
SD: Mainly, companies in the previously unorganized sectors such as retail have implemented solutions such as Infor’s Warehouse Management Systems. Retail sector in India is growing at a rapid pace in the recent years in India. According to the BMI India Retail Report for the third-quarter of 2010, total retail sales will grow from US $ 353 billion in 2010 to US $ 543.2 billion by 2014.
Infor is a leader in the WMS space and enjoys over 26% market share in the Asia Pacific region. In India, Infor has had a huge success with WMS and enjoys good market share with a significant presence in the Retail and Distribution industry.
VO: How much is the investment involved when it comes to providing various solutions that you provide to retailers? What are the corresponding benefits that a retail brand can draw by incorporating the same?
SD: The investment for WMS varies from the size of the customer’s business. Infor WMS Business Edition can be deployed for small retailers and Logistics Service Providers while Infor WMS Enterprise Edition can be deployed for large and medium sized retailers and LSPs. Investment for WMS involves licenses, implementation and annual support, cost of servers and RF handheld devices. Retailers have gained tremendous benefit by deploying Infor WMS. For e.g. inventory accuracy has gone up to 99.9+%, reduction in labor hours and overtime costs by 15-20%, reduction in shipping errors by over 85%. All this translates into realization of a higher ROI and pay-back periods between 1-2 years.
Infor’s Warehouse Management Solution helps companies maximize product placement strategies, prioritize tasks, implement fair productivity standards, and increase logistics efficiency. The capabilities include:
Inventory Management— It has multiple units of measure, allows a lot control, and catches weights improves inventory accuracy and visibility to offset margin squeeze.
Work and Task Management—deep functionality for work order/location grouping into batches and waves optimizes productivity.
Labor Management— It has capabilities for forecasting, managing time and attendance, assignment scheduling and monitoring to optimize labor and reduce costs.
Cross-Docking — It has flow-thru, trans-shipment, and opportunistic process capabilities that increase inventory speed and throughput.
Slotting and Optimization— It has the ability to arrange SKUs advantageously within a range of pick faces/slots and thereby accommodates variable demand.
Value-Added Services— Value – Added Services include capabilities for deferred manufacturing, preparation of store-ready pallets, light assembly and kitting to enable customization of products closer to the point of sale.
Voice-Directed Distribution— It has features that allow voice-enabling order selection, replenishments, put-aways, transfers and receiving which enhances productivity and accuracy.
VO: How has been the response so far? Also, who is your target audience?
SD: Our target audience is the mid market segment in India. India has the second largest SME segment in the world with almost 35 million enterprises. Globalization in trade is forcing SMBs to improve their efficiency of conducting business. Enterprise software solutions like Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Supply Chain Management (SCM) and Warehouse Management Solutions (WMS) help SME’s to achieve the above mentioned objectives.
Infor solutions cater to the growing needs of the SME segment. Their solutions are designed keeping in mind the constraints and the challenges faced by this segment.
Infor solutions are business specific, this means less customization, faster implementation, faster return on investment and a lower Total Cost of Ownership.
VO: Which are your retail clients which have benefited via your services? Please share a case study.
SD: This is a case study of a Supply Chain arm of one of the largest value retailers in India. The customer invested in Infor WMS in late 2008. Within 2 years, the company was able to implement WMS in over 12 large Distribution Centers across India and they are rolling out Infor’s Warehouse Management Solution in other Distribution Centers at the rate of almost one Distribution Centre every 4 weeks. The customer realized the following benefits by using Infor’s WMS:
o Increased Inventory accuracy
o Real-time warehouse capacity tracking
o Inventory visibility and tracking at each stage of receipt or outbound process improving productivity
o Regular RF based Cycle count has improved inventory accuracy significantly
o Direct labor productivity monitoring has improved labor forecasting accuracy
The retailer has realized direct benefits by ensuring that it’s over 100 multi-format retail stores are replenished from the Distribution Centers with the highest industry standard “order fill-rate” and lowest shipment errors. This has ensured that lost sales due to unavailability of SKUs on store shelves is eliminated thereby improving consumer experience, and improving the retailer’s bottom-line.
VO: Any plans to introduce any new services for the benefit of retailers?
SD: We have added a number of functional domain specific partners, who are essentially focused on retail and logistics market segment.
VO: Looking at the fierce competition by which the market is driven these days, what is the marketing strategy that you follow?
SD: We intend to expand the market share and revenue through our direct and indirect model of engagement. Infor works typically differently from our competitors in a way that we believe there is a better way of working with customers, through more choices, the way they buy from us and use our software solutions and through a model which is catered to specific verticals which matters most. Therefore, in our direct model of engagement we independently contact and cater to verticals such as auto, retail and logistics and discrete non-auto manufacturing.
In our indirect model of engagement we collaborate and partner with:
o BCA (Business Consulting Associates),
o CPA (Channel Partner Associate) and Service partners
o System Integrators
As a part of our other marketing initiatives, we hold a Customer Connect Summit every year.