Cognizant supported more than a dozen retailers across three continents in the 2010 peak season, representing more than 30,000 stores and billions of dollars in online transactions. It was interesting to learn about their offerings as we recently spoke to Nirav Patel, Vice President, Retail Practice, Cognizant…
Vrinda Oberai (VO): What is the USP that sets apart Cognizant from other players in this space?
Nirav Patel (NP): Cognizant’s integrated services and domain-aligned go-to-market approach has enabled us to build deep expertise of the retail industry. We have applied it successfully to understand the business challenges that retailers face during peak holiday seasons. In addition, our integrated service delivery capabilities through the entire stack of business functions—business process, applications, and underlying infrastructure—helped us visualize and build the Intellipeak solution.
VO: How exactly does your technology provide the retailers with the ability to manage their peak shopping season well?
NP: Intellipeak provides the ability to assess retailers’ readiness for the peak shopping season through an objective evaluation framework. It helps monitor the key KPIs that drive business performance and those that measure system performance in order to scale and meet business demand. For example, the framework helps retailers identify measures to scale their check-out systems to handle peak volumes, plan for ‘surprise’ promotional events and demand for online channel, and so on.
VO: How do you view the Indian market when it comes to the rising demand from retailers to facilitate the management of their retail outlets in a better way?
NP: India is a growing retail market and organized retailing is constantly maturing and improving. We see a rising demand for managing retail outlets. Some of the key focus areas include managing dynamic changes and primitive IT systems requiring hyper-care support, and supporting a variety of store formats.
VO: How mature is the market abroad when it comes to managing retail outlets?
NP: The market abroad is quite mature in managing retail outlets. Yet, with growing consumer demands, there are ever-increasing challenges in managing outlets and other channels of shopping. The emergent trends in consumer retail spending have pushed retailers to constantly innovate and provide differentiated value in their retail outlets, driving end-user experience to advanced levels. Online retailing is also picking up increasing momentum.
VO: What is the kind of demand that you see among various retail players across the globe and which is the retail segment where you are witnessing the maximum demand?
NP: We see a consistent demand for efficient management of holiday peak season across global retailers. We also observe that most retailers across grocery and general merchandise segments are going through a transformational journey to help their businesses grow, which, in turn, entails greater need to ensure that holiday seasons are managed well with the new platforms powering higher business growth.
VO: What are the criteria on the basis of which you research and come up with new technology solutions for the target markets?
NP: We constantly track the changing behaviors of the retail industry and the end-consumers, and what that means to our retail customers. This helps us identify the right solutions for the various target markets.
VO: What, in your opinion, are the key areas to be addressed while managing the peak seasons of the market? Do you see any difference between India and abroad?
NP: A clear understanding of growing business demands and their impact on the underlying systems and infrastructure is the key to successfully managing peak seasons. An important ingredient of success is the ability to adapt IT to business change and provide a seamless end-consumer experience. While we see definitive peak season periods abroad, peak seasons in India are more in number and frequency, coupled with a dynamic shopper’s profile and diversity that varies between different peak events, making it that much more difficult to rise to changes and maintain 'quiet' periods.