Technology Powers 'Thought Leadership' In The Retail Business

CIOReview Team | Thursday, 15 March 2018, 10:15 IST

While imagination fuels business innovation, technology transforms it into a greater reality. Put these three elements - imagination, innovation, and technology - together, and we can create magic for our customers, in the retail space! While our thought leadership makes us the trailblazers in the retail business, a concurrent investment on massive technology upgrades in the logistics (like in supply chain management, distribution, etc.) bear a significant impact in our business efficiency and revenues. This will enable us to carry our business to the next level. For an organisation like ours that has ‘democratised’ the very concept of fashion in India and that now aspires to even be the ‘clothier of the nation’, must have a sturdy backend technology management system that supports its growth and keeps up with its aspirations. After all, the right use of technology can enhance business productivity and efficiency, enable cost savings, streamline business processes, and also make the best use of the available resources.

But it all starts from who we were, where we have reached today, and where we aspire to get to, from here.

Our Legacy In The Retail World

Future Group, which is one of the largest retail groups in India, with 1,200 retail outlets including department stores and specialty stores in more than 240 cities, covering consumer goods including food, fashion and cosmetics reported a turnover of US$3.5 billion in 2016. These past achievements that have impacted the retail landscape bear a testimony to our sustenance as a ‘thought leader’ over the years. Currently we have close to 20 million square feet of retail space in operation in India. And we’re looking to expand our network by 14-15 per cent per annum. This implies, adding about another two to three million square feet of new retail space every year.

At present, our fashion category takes a lead in contributing the highest sum to our business’ overall earnings. We now aim to reach a turnover of $15 billion in the next five years from the current $3.5 billion. However, the retail world has become far fiercer than before and this requires us to constantly reinvent ourselves and align ourselves with these changing trends. Empowering ourselves with the right technology will be the mantra for ‘efficiency and scalability’ to us and our customers.

Powering A ‘High-Tech’ Retail Experience!

India is among the fastest growing economies in the world that will see a significant growth in influential consumers by 2020.  This number is estimated to range between 400 million and 500 million by 2020, which is bigger than the entire population of the United States! There are lots of people in India today, who are looking for differentiated products. Mean while, there’re more than 30 million retail stores in India, which is about one store for every 50 people. All these numbers will nudge a simultaneous growth in the retail business. Not just this, the affluent consumers are shifting from daily necessities to fashion, accessories, beauty and electronic products. Their higher disposable income now gives them the ability to buy quality products at competitive and affordable prices. The only way one can keep up with the vibrant and dynamic state of consumption is to build a Technology Quotient that powers large-scale production and distribution in an orderly and hitch-free fashion. After all, ‘retail’ is about attending to every ‘detail’. And logistics is what forms the backbone to the entire science of retailing.

With this in mind, we recently launched a distribution center in Nagpur, which is the largest in the whole of Asia Pacific region, barring China. We boast India’s first automated high speed cross-belt sortation technology, which has an incredible sorting productivity of over 36 Cr pieces per annum. This sorting capacity has an accuracy of over 99.6%. In fact, our newly installed sortation system comprises a cross belt tray sorter, enabled with approximately 2.5 km of conveyor system. This sortation system will make the delivery of the stock to the store a faster process, benefiting all the stakeholders involved in the process.

Our distribution center that houses the latest sortation technology, is going to be a total game-changer that will make us efficient and error-free. But this is just the beginning. In the future, we will also be bringing in inbound automation to support 60% faster unloading of trucks from production houses, a move that will help us handle increased volumes. A boom conveyor, in the future, will increase our unloading capacity by three times, that’s unloading around 600 cartons in less than an hour! Not just this, we have also been the pioneers in adopting barcoding as a key component in keeping our supply chain efficient, we are now upgrading to RFID for end to end inventory traceability. RFID will be the backbone of our Omni-Channel play. After all, keeping up with technology is the best way to keep up with time. These are some of the upgrades that will help the merchandise to reach their destination quickly, benefiting our vendor partners, store staff, category teams and customers alike.

We are building on a technology-driven infrastructure that takes care of every detail. In a consumption-led era, we are now set to reap the benefits of scale, experience and power of brands in creating value for all our stakeholders.