What are the requirements of client nowadays? (What kind of IT solutions basically customers are demanding)
- More and more retailers in India are seeing value in using software for the regular billing counters.
- Though the most elementary of IT solutions in the Retail industry, the market for growth of PoS systems is yet very large, because of the sheer size of SME retailers who still need to move onto a billing software.
- This provides the Back Office operations software, which integrates transactional data received from all the store outlets, into a central database.
- This software also serves to automate the centralized functions of the retail organization, like Orders, Purchases, Inter-store stock transfers, Price Management, Transactional Reporting, Employees, Payroll and Accounting.
Business Intelligence (BI):
- This is the advanced level executive reporting solution, with the ability to computational analytics on transactional data, summarized reporting with easy to use drill-down reporting on multiple dimensions.
- BI solutions have traditionally been expensive to acquire, and therefore have been out-of-scope for most of the Small and Medium retailers.
- Now SME retailers are appreciating the value of analytics, and are demanding BI solutions, but the price point is a huge barrier.
- Hence, most of the innovative retailers are resorting to home-grown spreadsheet based analytics, which is time-consuming to produce for proper analysis.
- Finally, BIRetail brings to SME retailers, a high-grade BI solution, at affordable price points.
- Retailers with large inventory holdings, are ever faced with the problem of stock loss, which mandates an efficient stock tracking system.
- RFID technology is still battling the high cost barrier for mass adoption.
What kind of innovation in IT solutions has happened in 2009 for retail segment?
- The high cost of servers, hardware, infrastructure, and the speed of obsolescence of the same, proves to be huge drain on capital expenditure for retailers, big or small.
- The new paradigm of Cloud Computing aims to deploy ‘economies of scale’ into the hardware and utility software space, but providing for ‘shared resources’ as a means to cut costs.
- Since the hardware is owned by the Cloud provider, the burden of maintenance and replacement is shifted from the retailer onto the provider.
Software as a Service (SaaS):
There are many innovative IT solutions launched in 2009 for retail segment using latest IT technologies and platforms, one of them being Business Intelligence solutions offered to retailers on SaaS technology.
SaaS is relatively a new technology which stands for Software-as-a-Service. SaaS is a model of software deployment where an application is hosted as a service provided to customers across the Internet. By eliminating the need to install and run the application on the customer’s own computer, SaaS alleviates the customer’s burden of software maintenance, ongoing operation and support.
The chief benefit of SaaS, as opposed to on-premises software, is lower upfront cost, which effectively lowers the entry barriers of customers who wish to acquire software applications. Customers buying applications on the SaaS mode do not have to worry about maintenance and upgrades as these are taken care of by the vendor. This potentially frees the retail organization to focus on business processes and cut down on expensive manpower. Another appeal of SaaS lies in its plug-and-play nature, which enables enterprises to cut down on the cycle time of deployment – a nightmare in the case of traditional software that often overrun deployment schedules and budgets.
What are the challenges faced by Indian Retail sector? How these can be surmounted with the usage of IT applications?
Retailing has seen such a transformation over the past decade that its very definition has undergone a sea change. No longer can a manufacturer rely on sales to take place by ensuring mere availability of his product. Today, retailing is about so much more than mere merchandising. It’s about casting customers in a story, reflecting their desires and aspirations, and forging long-lasting relationships. As the Indian consumer evolves they expect more and more at each and every time when they step into a store. Retail today has changed from selling a product or a service to selling a hope, an aspiration and above all an experience that a consumer would like to repeat. The retail scenario is characterized by logistical challenges, constant changes in consumer preferences, evolution of new retail formats, transparency, Infrastructure, distribution and inventory, management of point sale (POS) data.
The opportunities perceived in the Retail sector have resulted in an entry of every major corporate house into the Retail space. And, the small retailer still needs to survive in the midst of this burgeoning competition. In such a competitive environment, when selling branded products with the same MRP to end customers, it requires SMART functioning to survive over the competition.
IT is a critical function in a retail organization as it is one of the key enablers that drive business right from an inception stage to the moment when merchandise is sold into the hands of the consumer. Some commonplace benefits of IT systems are:
- Automates manual processes, making them faster and less prone to error
- It implements certain operational processes in place, which tend to improve the efficiency
- It helps set alert levels, to monitor and track key performance indices
- Data collected can be mined to determine trends in product lifecycles, customer behavior patterns, sales performances across periods, etc, all of which can be harnessed back as a feedback mechanism to improve profit
What kind of growth one can expect in the retail sector?
Indian Retail Industry estimates show that the overall size of the retail sector in India is expected to touch over US$450 billion by 2010 and US$637 billion by 2015. The organized retail sector in India aggregates to less than 10% expected to grow at 8-10 percent per annum with almost all leading industry houses expanding in the market like Future Group, Lifestyle, AB Birla, Reliance, Tata and Madura Garments.
There are multiple factors driving Indian retail growth. With roughly 60 per cent of the total population below 30 years of age, favorable demographics are expected to drive consumption across categories. The much-talked about purchasing power of a young consuming middle class is finally crystallizing today.
What kind of applications are catching up in the retail industry?
Answered in Question #1 above.
What are the hot trends in IT applications in retail segment?
Answered in Question #2 above.