No Fullstop: Infotech Spend At Rs 20 Cr, This Chain Carries On

Mumbai: | Updated: Aug 26 2002, 05:30am hrs
Shoppers Stop, a multi-city retail chain, which started operations in 1991 with a store in Mumbai, knew the significance of information technology right from the word go. From computerised billing on day one to use of enterprise resource and human resource solutions over the years, the chain has come a long way.

The Mumbai store was followed by Bangalore and Hyderabad, and the remaining outlets came later. In the beginning, these stores used FOXPRO-based home grown IT systems, according to Mr Vikas Prabhu, customer care associate and senior manager-information systems, Shoppers Stop Ltd. Then it was time for change. In 1998, we decided to go ahead with an enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution in keeping with our business needs and rapid expansion plans, says Mr Prabhu.

After looking at multiple vendors, Shoppers Stop decided to choose JDA Inc as a business partner for its software. An ERP solution, JDA software is used by retailers for multiple business models. ERP takes care of the supply chain management, by using back-end and front-end systems. Mr Prabhu justifies selecting the expensive ERP platform: The objective was to have a rugged and stable backend. Also, the choice was determined by the need for connectivity across locations at the store, he adds. Incidentally, the company has spent in the region of Rs 20 crore towards IT acquisition.

Besides the ERP solution, the company selected COMSAT MAX as a business partner for connecting its locations with V-SAT. Today, we have nine stores and three distribution centres connected to the corporate office. Due to increase in the need of bandwidth requirement, we moved from V-SAT to a setup of Satyam Infoway with leased lines and ISDN.

With the increase in number of stores, the need for point-of-sales machine and desktops also went up. Today we have almost 100 point-of-sale machines with almost 400 desktops connected to 25 servers spread in different locations of Shoppers Stop, says Mr Prabhu.

The influence of technology has been felt in the sphere of communication too. To put in place an efficient communication system, the company implemented tools like Lotus Notes and Online Chat. The focus of the store has also been on inventory management and financial packages.

While the chain was focusing on inventory and financials, it also had human resources needs on its agenda. The company selected RAMCOs human resource management systems (HRMs) and completed its implementation in October 2001.

Technology doesnt stop here. Shoppers Stop invested in another module of ERPwarehousingrecently. Now there are three warehouses across the country, managing nine stores with minimal turnaround time. To top it all, the company has built its corporate website, to complement its B2B initiative. The site has also helped Shoppers Stop make the supply chain more efficient. The site, which went live in November 2001, has around 50 business partners.

Finally, the safeguard. To protect the network, the company has firewalls and intrusion detection systems, which are managed 24X7 by one of its business associates Bangalore Labs.