Shoppers Stop Revamps CRM and Warehouse Management to Enable Omni-Channel Retail Strategy

India’s leading retail chain, Shoppers Stop, is re-strategizing its business model to combat growing competition from e-commerce. The company initiated its business transformation journey last year with the objective of establishing an omni-channel presence across online, mobile and stores. And, IT is at the centre of enabling this transformation from an offline retail to omni-channel retail offering consistent experience across all channels.


What does it mean to be truly omni-channel? It means that a customer may come to the store and then go to the mobile/web to buy or alternatively browse online/mobile and purchase it at the store. Similarly, a customer may come to the website first and then go to the mobile to shortlist and then again go back to the website to place an order or come to the store to purchase the item shortlisted on the mobile.


The backend needs to be geared to enable any of these scenarios wherein the different channels intersect and crisscross. That is possible when there is one view of customer and one view of inventory. The company’s current IT strategy is aligned around enabling these two key business demands.


When you are trying to be a 24x7 retail experience to the customers through web, mobile and other channels, you are looking at real-time data availability, whether it is customer shopping data or inventory information. This change required a complete revamp of the retail major’s IT landscape.


One View of Customer


Towards achieving one view of customer, Shoppers Stop has implemented Microsoft Dynamics CRM, which has been rolled out both for the website (e-commerce) and the stores. This means whether the customer shops online or at the store, there will be consistency of experience.


The customer may be shopping with Shoppers Stop just on the web or physical store or mobile or may be starting the journey from one channel and ending it on another channel. All across he/she cannot be treated as separate customers and should be able to get the same experience. This requires real time information exchange at the backed, which has now been enabled.


The CRM system is also integrated with the social media channels to track and analyze customer sentiment. So, when the customer comes to the store, with one click the associate can view complete history of what he/she bought, where he/she bought it, what was the experience, whether he/she was unhappy and complaining, etc. A holistic view of the customer history along with an understanding of his/her sentiment enables the associates to offer better services and tackle situations more effectively.


One View of Inventory


The other key pillar of Shoppers Stop’s omni-channel strategy is one view of inventory, which it has achieved through its warehouse management solution. The solution is helping Shoppers Stop optimize its supply chain to cater to the store as well as online inventory fulfillment, the dynamics of both of which are different.


In the earlier store-centric traditional business model the warehouse would stock all the inventory and then on need basis fulfill the store requirements. Typically, the shipping from the warehouse to the store would be done in bulks. However, the game changes completely in case of online where the fulfilment is done in ones and twos as the orders come. In an omni-channel scenario, from a supply chain perspective, while the warehouse continues to fulfill the stores as it had been doing earlier, it is now also able to ship and fulfill online customer orders coming in bits and pieces. To be able to expose the same inventory to both store and online requires a single view of the inventory.


Further, the omni-channel play is opening up newer use cases other than pure play ‘store’ or ‘online’ use cases. One can look at use cases like a customer purchasing online but instead of waiting for it to arrive walks up to the nearest store to pick it up, which is the buy online and pick up in store kind of model. Or, the customer buying in the store but having it delivered because he/she doesn’t want to carry it. There are various combinations that can happen in a truly omni-channel retail. The supply chain needs to be agile enough to fulfill these different scenarios while ensuring that excess inventory is not piling up in the company’s books.


This has been made possible through enabling real-time visibility of inventory. Earlier real-time visibility of the inventory didn’t matter because the stores operated for 12 hours and the company had the remaining 12 hours for doing backend data processing. But, now when it is looking at online, the real-time inventory visibility is very important.


As Shoppers Stop gears up its backend customer engagement and warehouse management systems to adapt to omni-channel retail, it is time for pure play e-commerce to sit up and take notice of this formidable force that can offer the best of both online and offline experience.

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