PROFILE

Aakash Varma

Consultant (Retail), Tata Consultancy Services
Aakash has worked with more than 10 global retailers across formats and geographies, in the area of process, digital and business consulting, focusing on Supply Chain and Operations.

In his current role as Retail Supply Chain Consultant, he is responsible enabling omni-channel supply chain through operations optimization, strategic decisions, digital enablement and business transformation initiatives. He is also responsible for driving digital innovation in the area of Artificial Intelligence, IoT, Blockchain, Digital Twin, etc. for retail supply chain.

He has authored and published many articles and whitepapers. One such whitepaper is on “Supply Chain Flow Considerations for Modern Omni-channel Retailing” on tcs.com. It talks about effectively managing flow in an omni-channel retail supply chain and optimizing operations with predictive and proactive capabilities.

He holds a post graduate degree in Supply Chain & Operations from NITIE, Mumbai and bachelor of engineering in Electronics.
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  • Posted on: 12/16/2017

    Will chatbots replace customer service reps?

    Intelligent chatbots are an effective, quick and to the point source of sharing information to customers. The question is not about "will chatbots replace customer service reps?" but about to what extent they will be replaced!This has gained much momentum in last few years due to growth of AI as they have made these bots much intelligent to handle difficult scenarios.
  • Posted on: 12/01/2017

    It’s good to be Home Depot

    Home Depot has transformed itself from just a normal retailer with home improvement products to a customer experience retailer. The recent digital transformation journey which Home Depot underwent has helped it to enable interconnected retail and a true omnichannel journey.Going by the facts, its ecom sales have grown by 25%, customer satisfaction index up by 30+% and won many rewards like internet retailer of the year for 2015. It is also trying out latest technologies to enable customer shopping experience like VR technology to see products in the house. All these direct to only one fact: Home Depot is somewhat ahead of the curve for the digital journey and superior seamless customer experience.
  • Posted on: 11/28/2017

    Will early out-of-stocks throw off Walmart’s holiday momentum?

    Out-of-stocks are one thing which retailers dread and try to avoid as much as possible by keeping as much inventory as possible. Even then there are such scenarios, but out-of-stocks are directly related to sales and customer experience. So there can be no question of if out-of-stocks will negatively impact Walmart holiday performance or not. It will, obviously!Seeing the trend, Walmart has performed far better than Amazon in online business in the last quarter but this hiccup can cost Walmart some loss of revenue and maybe some customers if they got products on Amazon or any other retailer.I think such a scenario occurred because Walmart under-anticipated the online business, which will be a lesson for them for the upcoming Christmas!
  • Posted on: 11/28/2017

    Customer data is grocery’s new battleground

    Spot-on, Art! I somehow missed the experience component but as you said it's an important component of grocery retail.
  • Posted on: 11/28/2017

    Customer data is grocery’s new battleground

    Nice point Phil, but just one thing -- how do you think regional grocers will get more data? Because by virtue of being a large national grocery chain they will have a lot of data but regional grocers don't have that flexibility!
  • Posted on: 11/28/2017

    Customer data is grocery’s new battleground

    Grocery is a very interesting area because of multiple reasons; shelf life, regular buys, organic demands, localized demands, etc. This is where customer data can really make a great difference. With customer data, retailers can accurately predict demand better, customer demographics at supply chain nodes, how to keep groceries fresh, etc.I believe national chains will be better able to leverage this customer data because of the advantages that they have -- an enormous amount of data, while data for regional players is very limited. As we say -- more data is always better!
  • Posted on: 11/23/2017

    Amazon launches exclusive with Calvin Klein

    That's a really smart move by Calvin Klein, by selling an exclusive collection on Amazon which in turn makes it even more exclusive. Considering the market presence, reach and customer variety of Amazon, this will not only lead to more sales for the product, but also can be leveraged for higher margins by the retailer. While that was for Calvin Klein, for Amazon also this is win-win situation as it will get an exclusive collection of a premium brand on its endless aisle!
  • Posted on: 11/22/2017

    The RetailWire Christmas Commercial Challenge: Big Lots vs. Kohl’s

    Spot-on!
  • Posted on: 11/22/2017

    The RetailWire Christmas Commercial Challenge: Big Lots vs. Kohl’s

    It's delightful to see big brands coming out innovatively for the holiday season with different promotions and welcome ads for customers. The two ads discussed in the article by Big Lots and Kohl's are good and customers will surely like it.For me Big Lots’ “Share the Joy” is the clear winner which has better connected with the audience by using eye catching, real life-like videos, awesome sound track and customer connection. It makes consumers live the moment with the ad. It would be really interesting to see at the end of season which of these retailers win the game!
  • Posted on: 11/21/2017

    Who will be left standing after the next retail shakeout?

    Can't be better said! We can't disagree that discount and convenience are major drivers but many other strategies like differentiation, personalization, product quality, etc. are also factors before making shopping decisions. I feel Lee tried to consider all others under Third Wave, but it won't be accurate do it. As James rightly suggested, it doesn't follow MECE principle, we can look at identifying more such strategies in this discussion so that we have a holistic and exhaustive list.
  • Posted on: 11/20/2017

    The RetailWire Christmas Commercial Challenge Global Edition – M&S vs. Sainsbury’s

    Can't agree more, Art! M&S's ad is really interesting and fun to watch as compared with Sainsbury's dull, black and white and uninteresting spot.
  • Posted on: 11/20/2017

    Is private label grocery about to go to the next level?

    Before going into whether private label will continue in the years ahead, let's examine why retailers have them. The major reasons retailers have private labels is because brands charge a high margin which retailers can avoid with private label, pass the saving on to customers while keeping the quality of products same. This will help them not only to increase sales, but also create a self brand.So now the main question is whether private brands will continue in the future or not. I think yes, because retailers can improvise and provide better quality, freshness and healthy choices at lower costs as compared to other brands. But yes, it requires proper supply chain, marketing and management to make it possible!
  • Posted on: 11/17/2017

    Omnichannel is just a term to describe everyday shopping

    Really insightful article!!!But I believe omnichannel has lived its life and retail is moving towards more of boundaryless retail where geographies, channels, etc. will not constrain retailers. A small e-tailer in one part of the world can sell products in a store in other part of the world. I believe more than money, feel of product or any other things, retail is moving more towards customer experience where new age technologies like AR, IoT, etc. will make the shopping journey joyful without any hassles. Amazon even I believe is doing the same with ideas like drone delivery, tunnel delivery, etc.So, for me its more of customer-centric retailing which will take the forefront instead of making it omnichannel or multichannel.
  • Posted on: 11/17/2017

    Amazon Go still plans to transform convenience in retail stores

    Can't agree more!!!Amazon is capturing and disrupting every part of our life, whether it is shopping, entertainment, business, etc. Even heard they are coming to pharma area. Seems like Jeff Bezos is the next Alexander on an expedition to conquer the world!
  • Posted on: 11/17/2017

    Amazon Go still plans to transform convenience in retail stores

    With this concept, Amazon Go is already disrupting the retail space. While on one hand Amazon is taking a lead on customer experience, traditional retailers are still struggling to tackle Amazon without focus on customers. This is keeping Amazon ahead in the race.Considering Amazon Go, it's an intelligent move as Amazon has accurately identified the major pain point customers have while they shop in a brick & mortar store, i.e. standing in long queues for billing. The only constraint/challenge is how will Amazon will keep up with the technology and protect any shop lifting or wrong billing as the complete process is human free.
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