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TBExG organises a two-day mini learning mission to four Tata companies

Published on January 15, 2018

Tata Business Excellence Group (TBExG) organised a two-day Mini Learning Mission (MLM) – The Business of Retail – on January 11-12, 2018, in Mumbai. The MLM to Trent (Westside), Trent Hypermarket (Star Bazaar), Tata Unistore (Tata CLiQ) and Infiniti Retail (Croma) covered practices in areas like new product development, lean marketing, supply chain efficiency, exclusive (own) brands and big data analytics.

Day 1 started with an opening session by Philip Auld, MD, Trent; who started with saying that Westside was not presenting because it was the best, but because it aspired to be the best. To appreciate what is done, yet to know that it is not enough, is the journey that the Westside team is on. Westside is about simple, fun and value. The realisation that all processes could be improved by at least 50 percent kept the team striving for excellence, Mr. Auld said.

Shailesh Solkar, Head - Merchandising & Supply Chain, Trent, spoke about the company’s success in shortening the cycle time of concept-to-floor process in its own brands to ensure that the current fashion is always in the stores. He elaborated that the company has been able to ensure that some new fashion hits the store in 12 days from design through a focus on the customer, building control, investing in buying, sourcing, merchandising and garment technology. A strong weekly review process across the organisation helps execution focus and has helped improve key metrics that are clearly defined and understood across the organisation.

Westside has also invested in its own studio to present its products in the way they are designed and conceptualized. The participants of the MLM got to visit such a design studio and understood through the detailing in the process set up that it was all about execution.

Post lunch, the focus shifted from fashion retail to a hypermarket chain and participants learnt how the widest range of products and services were being offered at competitive prices at Trent Hypermarket. Ashwin Abraham, Head – Supply Chain, Trent Hypermarket, spoke at length about the company’s strategies such as the 24-hour replenishment model, daily delivery to ensure optimum stock holding, etc. had helped it expand the market model.

The next session by Deepak Sahoo, Director – Fresh Operations, provided participants with insights about Star Bazaar’s ‘for fresh for fresh’ aspiration and journey. He also explained how the company developed a deeper understanding of not just what, when and where to pick the best vegetables from, but also how to present them well to customers. The company’s passion in this process is evident from the fact that during the last strike in Mumbai, not a single store suffered from supply constraints.

Seema Modi, Director – Own Brand, Trent Hypermarket, then covered the own brand’s journey and highlighted how it had succeeded in doing common things uncommonly well. She spoke about the process the company uses to identify where to compete and whom to compete with for the selection of categories and sub categories.

Day one ended with clear note of focus on the details, review rigorously and ensuring that you keep it simple.

Day 2 of the MLM covered Tata Cliq and its successful efforts to make a mark on the retail landscape. Vikas Purohit, Chief Operating Officer, Tata UniStore, spoke passionately about how the company had succeeded in bringing fashion quicker to market and allowed brands to customize for the country by partnering with brands directly and sharing customer data. The clear focus of not trying to create an offline versus online battle, helps stores celebrate every order on Tata Cliq.

Sauvik Banerjjee, Chief Technology Officer, Tata UniStore, spoke about the partnerships with technology giants to scale up Tata Cliq’s unique model.

This was followed by five high potential employees talking about the 5 pillars of culture at Tata Cliq which involved consistently improving, being meritocratic, having fun, being customer and data obsessed and a caring company.

Infiniti Retail was the focus of the second part of the day. Maneesh Mittal, Head – eCommerce & Big Data, Infiniti Retail, spoke of how Croma had leveraged a differentiated digital capability to successfully compete with traditional retailers as well as with online marketplaces. The focus on customer behaviour has helped the company tailor offerings and train staff to close sales more effectively, he said.

Ritesh Ghosal, Chief Marketing & Insights, Infiniti Retail, spoke on a lean marketing approach, wherein they used strategies like partnering with credit card companies to maintain contact-ability and engagement with customers, driving them to the store more frequently than otherwise. He elaborated that using data analytics allowed the company to offer deals customised to customer rather than blanket offers and drive sales.

During this MLM, it was evident that employees were keen to derive benefits from One Tata. Each participant spoke of working with other Tata companies and how the ‘One Tata’ Vision should bring great benefits to customer and margins. The key takeaways of this MLM were – 1) It has to be simple 2) It is about the details 3) Focus on execution and 4) Review in-depth