Tale of Two Cities: Fashion and IT

By Ranjan Sharma, Head IT and Supply Chain, Bestseller Retail India

With the speed of an eye blink the trends in Fashion industry changes. How do you capture and spot trends? How do you manage and coordinate and work with the different team members sitting across in multiple locations and shorten the lead times in supply chain? The way we used to work couple of years ago in the Fashion industry have drastically changed. Be it the boardroom, participation in strategic decisions IT is playing a great role in all these sectors. So if you look at the whole of e-commerce, marketplace IT has remodelled the fashion industry. Impact of IT on the present Fashion Retail segment is extraordinary.

Fashion industry is categorized into two ways. So one is core business and another is fast fashion business. In core fashion business the needs are different whereas in fast Fashion business the features are pretty different. But more or less the involvement of IT in fashion industry is increasing by the day because of the complexities as trends are changing every day. Hence technology is playing a huge role than what it used to play in earlier times.

So if we look at the complexities of our business we run more than 160 EBO stores. We have more than 700 shop in shop stores and we work with most of the large commerce players. Now in all these, IT technology is the central piece which actually takes care of these different distribution channels.

IN 2012-13 we used to work on our global technologies platform. And at the end of 2013, we decided that this is not the way how we could support the needs of the growing business. The Indian business processes were different from the European business. Hence we planned to have separate IT technology roadmap for India. And in 2014 we started that journey. We needed to become much more agile, that was the reason why we took this decision. And we split the system and we created a separate system for very large businesses. And then we created our own ERP systems and in some of the places, we were almost the first player in India to actually try out solutions effectively in retail.

Today we need to push our actionable to the stores every hour to every area manager who receives actionable in terms of statistics of a particular date. Target or margin for every hour gives him / her very clear perspective in terms of where he needs to move and where he has to change. So they have a target for a day apart from a weekly and monthly target. Real Time Sales Inventory data gives an employee a very clear perspective of the hourly target and keeps them motivated throughout the day since they can see that what money they are making in terms of incentive.

A growth mode and a stable mode are very different. So one is where you have to catch up with that speed and stay ahead and the other piece is to enable and leverage things where you could be five years down the line as well. Within 3 years the entire business changes. So how should I think and design the overall IT architecture which can fight and suit the need of our business growth at that point of time was difficult for us initially. And that is how our few of the challenges came in but thankfully with the help of good partners and with a lot of planning and designing the IT architecture we took care of a lot of those issues.

The IT trend that we are looking into is more towards engaging customers 360 degree; so it will be Omni channel, it will be augmented reality, AI and blend them all to bring out the best. Because the need to understand the customers you just need to understand the buying behavior of customer and also to understand the general behavior of customer wherever the person is visiting or experiencing. Just receiving the buying behavior of the customer is not enough what influences the customer is catering their needs in customized way which needs the knowledge of overall behavior and lifestyle of the customer channelizing online and offline Fashion Retail Markets in the future.

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