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360 degree Revolution in Retail Staffing: Case Study in Client Solutions - Sep 2016

Retail Technology and Managed Services

By Melvyn Mascarenhas

Associate Vice President, TASC Outsourcing

True definition of 360 is equidistance from the center of a circle. In this Case Study, as fresh as ground cinnamon on a spices shelf, we look at a recent experience in the Retail industry. The story revolves around an integrated platform we developed, for automating the Sales Force at Retail stores.

TASC Outsourcing is a talent solutions company with a ready pool of resources for deployment at client sites. We have more than 4000 contract staff on our rolls, of which more than 1100 are outsourced to clients in the Retail sector. The founder of our company, Mr. Mahesh Shahdadpuri, is an engineer with a passion for IT (besides being a business magnate ranked in recent years among Top Indian Leaders in the Arab world, awarded as Middle East CEO of the Year in Outsourcing, and acclaimed as IT Innovator of the Year).

It was quite natural that, since inception 8 years ago, our back-end was driven by state of the art software systems that empowered recruitment, training, on-boarding, payroll and compliance. One fine day, a year ago, while assessing the potential for Retail in the GCC, we came up with an idea: Why not infuse technology for the benefit of clients, beyond its use in-house.

Not that simple, considering most of our clients are MNC brands, with their own tech teams. We went back to the drawing board and came up with a fusion of our core business and their core business need: A 360 degree software application that will manage human resources, manage inventory, monitor share of shelf and increase sales. Read on for the case study, and launch story of the TASC Retail Technology Platform.

Traditional retail, from the days of shops and supermarkets, has been driven more by book keeping and manual stock taking. Next came computerization and along with it voluminous spreadsheets that had to be analyzed manually. Followed by Big Retail, with a potpourri of centralized IT hubs, warehouses, supply chains and customer value chains. They went shopping for every software tool, to make the backend strong and customers engaged on the sales floor. ERP, MIS, BIS, SIS and SAP applications, Heat Sensors to monitor lines at checkout counters, transaction processing systems, RFID for stock levels, automatic reorder from as many as 1000 suppliers… phew… Retail has come a long way from the mom and pop store of yore.

In this evolved industry vertical, powered by cutting edge IT, in a domain dominated by global majors, we spotted a niche where we could add value, with our technology genes and HR expertise. Working with a knowledge partner, we developed a resources-centric technology platform that would motivate the sales team by automating work flow, thereby enabling focus on their core function of customer service.

With our Retail Technology Platform, even a routine but essential task of marking attendance is made easy – all it needs is an RFID check in, or a selfie click. The app installed on the sales person’s mobile phone geo-tags location and time. Stock tracking is in real time, which helps replenish inventory just in time. Field staff are able to measure share of shelf – in real time, facilitating action for boosting sales. For management personnel in Retail Chains and consultants engaged in retail performance improvement and store transformation, here is an overview of our Retail Technology Platform:

  • Integrated KPI setting, incentive calculation and payroll management
  • Enhanced employee engagement through mobile alerts and e-pay slip
  • Automated stock capture, product demo and market visit planning
  • Visual merchandising reports from store visits and field audit reports
  • Capture of SKU-wise stock through an intuitive UI
  • Helps monitor In-Store Sales, Visual Merchandising and Field Training
Initially, when we proposed the platform to our Retail clients, we encountered resistance, as there is an additional cost for implementing the technology. But we had a happy ending, when the platform switched to payback mode within a few months of implementation. To cite two examples:
  1. A global manufacturer and distributor, who never stops inventing, and whose products help paste, staple, clip and stick, reported an increase in sales of 20%.
  2. An electronics giant, for whom we have deployed more than 150 promoters, and has implemented our automation technology, is convinced of our sense and sensibility.
We have successfully deployed the platform at retail establishments in UAE, Kuwait and Qatar. Implementation is underway for clients in Saudi Arabia and Turkey. In many ways, the platform is a milestone in our Managed Services offering. Until now, we outsourced team members, and we managed payroll. Technology innovation completed the trinity. Looking at it closely, we integrated Sales Management across touch points, equalized the distance from the center, and ushered in without a fuss, a 360 degree revolution in retail staffing.