Back-end logistic for retail gets easier.
Tags: KronosBY Aadeetya Sriram | February 02, 2012 | comments ( 1 ) |
Back-end logistics has always been considered a major challenge in India. This is where the likes of Kronos enable retailers to function efficiently with their expertise in real-time operations. James Thomas, Country Head, Kronos India, elaborates on the varied technicalities of the brand’s profile and highlights the deficiencies in the country.
Aadeetya Sriram (AS): What is the brand all about? Tell us about your range of products and services.
James Thomas (JT): Kronos is a global leader in the area of workforce management, which is all about how we are enabling organisations to manage their workforces better. Today, as a thought leader, we are transforming the way you need to look at employees, the way you engage and manage them, as this has a significant revenue and profitability impact on your business operations. When you look at the operational side of managing people every day for a retailer, you have the aspect of three or four dimensions coming into play. One is the time-dimension in terms of people coming to work for certain periods of time, for which they get paid. Kronos assesses if you are being just in the pay that you provide and if you have enough visibility around your people to ensure that you are minimising your complaints. Whether it is statutory aspects around labour laws or it is your own organisation rules and guidelines that employees need to follow is what Kronos does the world over.
AS: Which sectors in particular are you catering to? Which ones form the crux of your product philosophy?
JT: We have something like 626 of the Fortune 1000. Retail is a huge vertical for us, which contributes to almost 25 per cent of our global revenue and there are specific reasons why a vertical like retail has a significant bearing in real time on what people mean in the stores for your business revenues and profitability. If you look at how you increase an average transaction size in a store or how you increase conversion rate in a store, this can happen by making the customer meet the right store person, who knows that a customer, who has come to buy a shirt, may be interested in a trouser, too. So, if there is connect in this regard, the conversion rate is bound to increase. Kronos works with retailers on a daily basis so that they prevent over-scheduling and under-scheduling of manpower inside a store, which is a huge challenge in India. This can actually work for around 20-30 per cent in change, when it comes to customer satisfaction, or almost 30-50 per cent reduction in overtime. In terms of clients, there are 4-5 major sectors that we focus on. The more complex the workforce gets, the better our services will enable them to work. We cater to healthcare, retail, manufacturing, services and distribution and public sector. If you look at our global share around these verticals, we get about 75 per cent of our revenues from the first three, ie manufacturing, retail and healthcare. With retail, we command around 60-70 per cent in the US market. In emerging markets, we are starting to see signs of workforce management becoming very relevant to economies and they look at automating this aspect or even areas like scheduling. In India, we have found tremendous traction in retail, manufacturing, services and distribution, while healthcare is very relevant. The IT spend in India is still a sunrise sector.
AS: What is the technology set-up for your products? are you manufacturing them in the country or importing?
JT: We have an engineering centre in the North, so after setting up the India Sales Organisation, India has become the second largest employee base for us outside the US. Significant product innovation is happening out of our engineering centre, which is growing double-fold every year in terms of how we are tapping the talent and the innovation from markets like India. India, with a population of 1.2 billion and a workforce of around 500 million in the organised and unorganized sectors, is a huge market for us in terms of how we can help organisations transform the way they leverage and benefit from the people.
AS: How do you view the Indian market and where do you see it moving in the future?
JT: The biggest challenge with last mile applications for adoption is determining the preferences of user and making the device as friendly as possible. We have gauged how easy it is to use for a last mile worker. Can a simple retail store employee, who walks in, do something which is less time consuming? This device gives us the perfect platform on which we can try to create the transformation needed for a last mile worker with regards to his performance, punctuality, etc. So, the whole user experience is transformed into something which is intuitive and guided, one click away and pushing information to the employee such as schedule for next, attendance record, etc. Kronos has made sure that all of these deficiencies are met with conviction and organisations are provided with the tools to ensure employee satisfaction. With the geographical coverage of India, it is a huge challenge for us to cover the retailers all across the country.
AS: What is your marketing strategy?
JT: Our marketing approach involves looking at multiple channels when it comes to costs. It is not mandatory to have a device and mechanism to undertake the operations; you need to look into multiple data acquisition mechanisms, which can be in the form of a mobile, tablet or simply a time-stamp, which will capture the data. If one wants to ensure cost-effectiveness is attained, then mixed mode, combined mechanisms are the way to go ahead. Our view has been to make the leading players use the technology, which will help others to believe in the authenticity of the device. At this point of time, we have significant work to do inorder to reach out to tier II and tier III cities, which constitute about 90 per cent of the underpenetrated market in the country. We believe word-of-mouth is one of the best vehicles for us to channelise our communication, as the potential of the medium is highly significant for us.