TESCO Hindustan Service Centre (TESCO HSC) is involved in the design and implementation of IT and allied solutions, for the global operations of this UK headquartered retailing giant. Sandeep Dhar, CEO - Tesco HSC, in a candid conversation shared the growing importance of Indian operations in the parent’s global strategy and the emerging technologies for retail.
Gunjan Piplani (GP): What kind of technology elements do you think is required for a huge size store? And what do you do in your property function?
Sandeep Dhar (SD): Overall IT dependency for large retailer is quite significant. So everything ranging from, procurement, storage, movement of goods, managing inventory in the shop, billing, replenishing the shop through supply chain with the right quantity, all these things require automation.
For the property design, we are involved in the entire life cycle of a store. The process starts with the site selection and creation of a feasibility report for site. There are various elements to it.
What it would cost to build a shop or mall on that site is driven by various elements like the site condition, existing structure, what it would cost to demolish if a new structure has to be build etc. There is an analytics function which determines how much of revenue we can generate from that shop and that is driven by the kind of residential localities around that site and demographics. That is the first stage where we get involved in helping Tesco prepare a feasibility report for the site. At this stage before we are doing it remotely we rely upon tools like aerialmaps, and use our ability to render drawings of that site, to visualise what the store would look like etc.
We do the entire design for the store and we have a large team of architects, engineers working on this. They use tools like JD, micro station etc. There are whole host of softwares which we use, maintaining standards set by Tesco. We don’t start designing every store from scratch because if wedo that wewouldn’t be learning from our past adequately.
We generally have design principles which tell us about the customer preferences and how can we provide best customer experience. Our shops are categorized depending upon their size, so for each size we maintain a definite standard. That design is obviously executed by the builders and contractors on the ground . So, once the shop is up and running, we get involved in the 3rd stage which is the maintenance of the shop. We track how the equipments are performing; monitor the energy consumption of that shop and make sure that the shop is consuming energy in a sensible fashion. We use a lot of remote monitoring tools, and some analytical software for analyzing. So, right from acquiring, building to the ongoing maintenance of stores is done out of Tesco HSC.
GP: At one point of time how many properties you are working or you work on a single property at one go?
SD: There are multiple properties we are working on a daily basis. There are two types of work that we could be doing, it could be designing a store right from scratch or it could be modifying an existing store based upon certain improvements that we may have to do from customer’s requirement perspective. From the maintenance perspective we are working on the entire state for all the stores. We work simultaneously for monitoring energy consumption and the performance of the equipments like refrigerator, air conditioning, etc.
GP: You have large operations in this country. What has been the experience so far and kindly throw light on the competitive advantage of your Indian operations?
SD: We currently have 6,500 employees in our Indian operations, and they include 500 designers and engineers. Clearly, we have been impressed by the quality of technical staff here and at a reasonable cost structure. We also handle the maintenance function for 3, 000 stores in the TESCO chain in four countries, including the UK.
GP: Technology is evolving constantly and it has implications for store design too. Kindly share your views?
SD: We have been working in 2D technology, but are increasingly shifting to the more advanced 3D technology. Apart from that, we are also focussing on ensuring greater integration of our activities, coupled with building a knowledge bank. These measures would help us to get greater insight on a particular property and across its life cycle, which would help us stay ahead of any player in this sector.