PPM enables Single View of Product Data

by Deepak Sharma on Sunday, February 24, 2008

txt A new Gartner report is suggesting how Product Performance Management (PPM) can help organizations achieve single view of product data. Gartner describes "PPM as the use of processes, methodologies, metrics and technologies to manage, report and influence product performance across the value chain. This approach embeds analytic-based insight into the decision-taking business processes at the intersection of supply chain design, configuration, optimization, strategy and operational management." PPM needs to be applied at multiple places across the complete supply chain (across departments, firewalls, company boundaries). It also needs centrally aligned governance of product master data via Master Data Management (MDM).

Read the whole report here, "Single View of Product Data Can Improve Supply Chain and Drive Product Performance Management" (Registration required).

Buzz areas in Indian Retail

by Deepak Sharma on Tuesday, February 12, 2008

According to K.V. Ramanand (Regional Director of Transaction Advisory Services on the retail sector in Ernst & Young), Joint Ventures, Private Equity participation and Inorganic growth (M&A's) will propel corporate activity in the Indian Retail Sector. We are seeing evidence of all three in Indian Retail. According to an interview published in Hindu, he says:

We see tremendous amount of activity in three distinct areas. First, the JVs. Indian players are set to expand and grow. In addition, there is significant amount of interest from large international players.

We have heard reports that large international players like Carrefour, and Starbucks are keen in entering this market. Tesco has already expressed its intent. The Australian retail major Woolworths is rapidly finalising strategies for an Indian retail foray.

They may enter the Indian market either directly or through JVs with local partners. Large Indian entities with sustainable strategies are keen to align with these global names. There are bound to be hectic parleys between the international players and domestic entities in finalising JV strategies.

The second area of buzz is PE. We have PE capital abundantly, and it is pursuing good investment options in this rapidly growing market. There are different types of transactions in this space.

In addition to minority investments, there are multiple incidences where the PE funds took controlling or significant minority stakes like Navis did when they invested into Nirulas.

Besides, within the retail space, niche opportunities like Flemingo Duty Free Shops also attracted serious interest and Citicorp invested funds in it. Similarly Digital Shoppy attracted investments from IL&FS Investments. We believe this is just the beginning and there is substantial interest and scope for investment in good retail sector deals.

Thirdly, the inorganic route, the ultimate resort for any player that wants quick growth. Reliance acquired the retail business of the Adani Group to quickly ramp up its operations. The AV Birla group made a similar entry in the F&G retail segment through the acquisition of Trinethra. Incidentally, a PE fund along with the promoters had an exit in this transaction.

RFID based Smart Visual Merchandising

by Deepak Sharma on Saturday, February 09, 2008

Indian IT major Infosys Technologies has developed Smart Visual Merchandising (SVM) based on RFID tags.

Passive RFID tags (a small circuit on a paper) each costing about Rs 10 are laid inside shirt or trouser packs. When a potential customer selects a shirt and brings it near a LCD panel, it displays all features of the shirt be it colour name, striped /checked, size, along with other sizes available in the same colour and their prices.
The technology comes handy inside a trial room. A touch on a display unit inside the trial orders a bigger/ smaller size at the counter, and a helper can hand over the same, thus saving time for both customer as well as the retailer.

imageInfosys has a tie up with Magic Mirror which takes the whole thing to a new level.

When a customer brings an RFID tagged piece of clothing in front of the magicmirror, it displays content which could include an in depth description of the garment, size and colour availability, mix-and-match style guides, and suggested accessories. If installed in the fitting room, customers can also contact a salesperson by simply touching the magicmirror without the trouble of getting changed and leaving the fitting room.

magicmirror provides retailers with a means to reach customers on an 'emotional' level and positively influence purchase decisions at the moment of choice. Customers are becoming more discerning about the products and services they buy at retail outlets. Retailers and brands are addressing this shift with new product propositions: limited edition designs, ethical trade and special raw materials are as important as the product itself. The ‘intangible' proportion of a product is justifying an ever-larger part of the product price.

Related Links:

On Camera- CNET covers Magicmirror®

Online Planograms and Web 2.0 technologies

by Deepak Sharma on Sunday, February 03, 2008

Just finished reading a very informative article by Internet Retailer on web-enabled execution management systems for distributing and managing planograms. The article talks of how Borders is managing changes to the store shelves using online plaongrams which are tied to the workforce management applications.

..Borders and other retailers are deploying web-enabled execution management systems for distributing and managing planograms—graphical layouts of store selling space that show exactly how products are to be displayed on shelves—along with other store operations plans and policies.

And thanks to web technology, planograms have become universally accessible and more user-friendly, with graphical user interfaces that let merchandise managers at suppliers and retailers drag and drop product images into shelf outlines to illustrate how products should appear in stores. Borders and other retailers distribute planograms to stores as part of online execution management systems designed to ensure that store employees execute planograms as well as other store operating procedures as planned by headquarters.


Now, however, store planograms are becoming more effective as part of broader store execution management systems. These systems incorporate web and other technologies that allocate shelf or floor space for each product and connect with applications that assign tasks to store employees related to displaying products. In addition, integrating these systems with labor management and inventory management applications enables retailers to ensure product display needs are supported by available staff and inventory. Distribution in a web-enabled, integrated environment makes planograms more effective, experts say.

The combined technology creates planograms that determine product depth and location by store based on available shelf space along with objectives such as expected profit margins and inventory turns of each product, with the fastest-moving, highest margin products usually getting the most space. But the ability of local store managers to inject their knowledge of local market demand and current store layouts also is crucial. Universal web access to planograms enables chains to easily include and leverage local management expertise, experts say. “Local retailers can take a planogram and make it right for their stores,” says Paul Waldron, Gladson’s executive vice president.

The graphical, drag-and-drop interface of planograms makes them relatively easy to use by store managers and corporate merchandise managers, who typically attend corporate demonstrations on how to check inventory and planned sales data to configure a picture of how products will appear on store shelves, Waldron says. These demonstrations help store managers learn, for example, how to alter planograms initially designed by suppliers. Once planograms are completed, designated store personnel can view them online or print them out as easy-to-follow guides for displaying products, Waldron adds.

The article makes me think the usage of Web 2.0 technologies such as Rich Internet Applications (RIAs) of the likes offered by using Microsoft Silverlight and AJAX support will aid in resolving problems as presented by the article. With .NET programming models also behind such technologies, it should be very easy to integrate with other Retail applications such as Workforce management systems. It should be also easy to optimize the performance of retail shelf space using such technologies thus giving additional benefits to the retailers.