We aim to strengthen our position as India’s leading tech-native retail company, says Bhavin Kothari, CIO & Head – Supply Chain & Logistics at ace turtle

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We aim to strengthen our position as India’s leading tech-native retail company, says Bhavin Kothari, CIO & Head – Supply Chain & Logistics at ace turtle
We aim to strengthen our position as India’s leading tech-native retail company, says Bhavin Kothari, CIO & Head – Supply Chain & Logistics at ace turtle

We are investing in driving adoption for our brands and building innovative technology capabilities to lead the retail industry’s next phase of evolution.

This is an exclusive interview conducted by Santosh Vaswani, Editor at CIO News with Bhavin Kothari, CIO & Head – Supply Chain & Logistics at ace turtle.

What types of in-store technologies have you integrated into your physical retail spaces?

ace turtle has deployed several in-store technologies, reshaping the traditional shopping experience across our retail spaces. Smart mirrors at our Lee and Wrangler flagship stores dynamically identify items brought in by customers, offering real-time suggestions for an enriched fitting room encounter. Electronic Shelf Labels (ESL) ensure a cohesive view of inventory and pricing, providing customers with instant updates on discounts and promotions. The Endless Aisles seamlessly bridge online and offline channels, enabling flexible ordering and pickup options. Meanwhile, the Wrangler store showcases an augmented reality (AR) mural, captivating customers with an interactive visual experience. Complementing this, Lee’s AR-enabled smart mirrors transcend traditional fittings, offering personalised recommendations. We have also integrated QR codes into the store’s sale windows, which is a simplified way of integrating technology. When we were designing our sale windows, we wanted to portray our omnichannel focus upfront and have used it in our end-of-season sale, expanded VM for better understanding of readers to enhance customer conversion. It was all about art meeting technology to elevate VM through a simple integration of QR codes.

This comprehensive integration of smart mirrors, ESL, Endless Aisle, and AR technologies is one of the steps taken by ace turtle to blend innovation seamlessly with consumer engagement.

How has ace turtle leveraged technology to scale its business so far?

In the last financial year ending in March 2023, we achieved the highest ever annual sales for both Lee and Wrangler in India. These brands have been in India for more than 25 years. We took over the business of these two iconic brands in 2021. Today, I am happy to share that 50% of our business is offline and the rest is online. We grew both brands 100% in FY23 over FY22.

The impressive jump in sales for Lee and Wrangler was largely because of the capabilities of our proprietary tech platform, Rubicon. We have been able to optimise the benefits of our ‘asset-light’ approach to inventory management because Rubicon has allowed us to seamlessly integrate our online and offline channels. The entire merchandise, including the inventory with the distributors, for both brands is available online. By running algorithms for various processes, from allotting a specific order to a particular outlet to assigning the last-mile delivery partner, Rubicon ensured that the SLAs were met.

Thanks to our vertical commerce model, we had access to consumer data, which we were able to use to better understand consumer behaviour on both online and offline channels. The data we had compiled enabled us to customise each consumer’s experience. The biggest advantage of our model was the rapid pace at which we could scale the business for the brands. Although both our inventory and catalogue were distributed across stores and channels, we ensured that consumers had a single view of our inventory. This meant that if a consumer placed an order on the webstore and the inventory allocated to the online channel ran out, Rubicon would assign the product from the stock of the nearest brick-and-mortar outlet.

Furthermore, the introduction of our proprietary Connect 2.0 app in over 80 Lee and Wrangler retail stores across the country has helped improve the efficiency and productivity of retail store operations.

What are the goals for ace turtle in the next 2-3 years?

In the next 2-3 years, we aim to strengthen our position as India’s leading tech-native retail company. We will continue to add more global brands to our portfolio. At the same time, we will strive to scale the business of our existing brands across India, leveraging our proprietary technology platforms and unique tech-driven business model. We are investing in driving adoption for our brands and building innovative technology capabilities to lead the retail industry’s next phase of evolution.

What are the emerging trends in enterprise data in Indian retail industry in 2024?

Leveraging enterprise data for monetization is yet to gather momentum in the Indian retail industry. However, 2024 could see greater momentum in this regard.

Enterprise data, including customer purchase history, loyalty forms, feedback, footfalls, inventory levels, sales, and social media trends, is crucial for the retail industry. India’s retail segment is expected to grow by 10%, reaching around $2 trillion by 2032. Key upcoming trends in enterprise data include big data and analytics, omnichannel retail, AI adoption, cloud computing, inventory and warehouse management, and mobile devices.

Big data and analytics help retailers gain insights into customer trends and behaviour, enhance service offerings, optimise inventory management, and drive higher sales. Retailers need to build user-friendly mobile apps and websites to provide a seamless shopping experience across various channels. AI is being deployed to automate tasks, improve decision-making, and deliver personalised experiences. ChatGPT is also being used to create product descriptions for seasonal offerings. AI-enabled digital assistants and chatbots are using data analytics to make intelligent price and product recommendations based on consumer browsing and purchase history.

Cloud computing simplifies data storage and processing, leading to faster, more informed decision-making. Inventory and warehouse management have become more convenient, with real-time data available 24×7 through retail cloud services. The rising use of mobile devices has made collecting and analysing mobile data essential for personalised consumer experiences.

Privacy and data security are crucial for maintaining consumer trust and promoting sustainable growth in retail. Sharing and monetizing data can enhance customer experiences and generate revenue. Retailers should have the necessary tools and processes to gather, manage, and decode company data effectively.

Also readThe integration of generative AI into workforce management yields numerous advantages, says Vikas Wahee, Head of Solutions, BPM & ITES, Intellicus Technologies

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