Retailing is a technology-intensive industry says Spar India CTO Sunil Nair

In an exclusive conversation with Sunil Nair, CTO, Spar India sheds light on how technology is driving retail.
Retailing is a technology-intensive industry says Spar India CTO Sunil Nair

What is the Vision of the organization for their business for next five years in terms focus towards IT deployment?

In today’s rapidly changing, increasingly complex multi-channel retail environment, our focus would be get the customer satisfaction matrix right and improve operational efficiency.

• Develop a unified understanding of a given customer’s wants and needs as consumers

become increasingly fragmented in the channels they use

• Experiment with emerging technologies to improve customer satisfaction and share

of wallet, while tackling significant organization and process integration issues

• Address today’s pressing economic challenges, while still building the capabilities needed

to compete successfully in the future.

Our first priority is to enableIT agility and operational effectiveness, definedigitally enabled business processes.


Considering your business what would be the key areas they feel ‘Technology’ will play an important role?

Retailers are investing heavily in innovation and implementation of cutting edge technologies to achieve scalability and agility in the diversified retail business to remain competitive and profitable specially in the areas of Ecommerce, Business Intelligence, Social media & Mobility solutions.

New technology and evolving consumers are reshaping the retail marketplace. Consumers are increasingly tech savvy driving new retail business models. Technology is essential in minimizing complex operations and helping retailers gain valuable customer insights, while delivering a compelling shopping experience.

According to you how ‘Loyalty’ and ‘Customer Experience’ influence with technology?

The customer today is more connected, empowered and demanding than ever. They’re influencing customer views and buying decisions . All of this is changing how we share information, how we shop, and the levels of service that customers expect today. Technology in Retail is about combining models like the cloud with new insights that can be obtained from social and business networks and big data analytics, to create entirely new customer experiences and competitive advantage.

Indian Retailers today are capable to harness the insights of technologies like social, business networks, mobility, and cloud .

CRM has become a critical component of retailers' customer engagement strategies . To provide a personalized and unique experience to the consumers , it is imperative to integrate POS systems with marketing ,inventory  and customer relationship management (CRM) .  

Kindly present your views on the changing role of CIOs/ CTOs/ Tech Heads and how business is now driven by technology?

Retailing is a “technology-intensive industry”. It is a well-known fact that the retail industry always works on razor thin margins and the key to survival lies in optimization of resources both in space and time dimensions as well as maximization of customer satisfaction.

Successful retailers today work closely with their vendors to predict consumer demand, shorten lead times, reduce inventory holding and ultimately save cost. Access to timely and even real-time information to a wide variety of channel and trading partners, sales personnel, line managers, store managers etc. is the key to achieving this. Over the years as the consumer demand increased and the retailers geared up to meet this increase, technology evolved rapidly to support this growth. It is technology that will help the retailers to score in such fierce competition. There are hardware and software tools that have now become almost essential for retailing. Consumers have come to expect more value and higher service levels.

As a consequence, the technology continues to grow and retailers search for ways to measure technical business value and to balance the effective utilization of the technical resource. Retailers want to get more value out of technologies and ensure they are spending their limited resources in ways that improve their overall offer to the customer. Technology has proven to be a competitive weapon in retail, which is a dramatic shift from a decade ago. In response, retailers generally need to become more disciplined in managing the IT function. Completing and delivering IT projects on time and on budget is overwhelming enough without the project team considering their project’s interdependencies with other business initiatives and corporate goals.

At last, kindly shed light on tech innovation that you have initiated within the organization?

If intend to create “mobile moments” using targeted offers and engage retail customers on mobile:

Connect to the In-Store Experience – An omni-channel strategy is essential for retailers today, so your app should seamlessly merge the in-store experience with a customer’s mobile activity. A seamless experience to keep our customers engaged and entrained by bringing in Proximity Marketing , Digital Shopping List , Head maps , product lookout  .

 Localized Offers – Thanks to beacon and geofence technology, we today have access to their customers’ location data, which they can use to promote localized offers. Retailers can target shoppers based on where they are, making offers and marketing messages more timely and relevant. 

Social Media Marketing – Social media is where consumers are spending the most time on their mobile devices, so updating regularly, engaging with followers and investing in social advertising is essential if you want to be a part of more “mobile moments.” 

Mobile Coupons – In-the-moment offers are great branded currency tools that retailers can use to combat showrooming. If consumers have immediate access to promotions on their mobile device, versus a physical coupon they may have forgotten at home or lost, they are more likely to make a purchase. Retailers can also use customer data to segment users and target them with specific offers that will drive incremental spend and visits. 

Mobile Loyalty Programs –Taking our loyalty program mobile, or at least merging mobile loyalty with a physical loyalty card program, will make customers’ lives easier and offer you another method of collecting data on customer activity. Gift cards and loyalty rewards should seamlessly sync with third party apps, Wallets, so customers can use them with ease.


Sunil Nair