Suresh Chaganti

Co-Founder and COO, VectorScient

Having spent 20+ years in consulting and technology leadership roles across multiple industry verticals that encompass the entire consumer value chain — Omni-Channel Retail, E-Commerce,  Distribution, Manufacturing, Market Research — Suresh brings fresh and well thought out perspectives.

Suresh implemented multiple ERP, CRM and Warehouse Management systems, along with rolling out new sales channels in a variety of retail marketplaces such as Macy’s, Amazon Vendor Central, Amazon Seller Central, and Fulfilled by Amazon.

Suresh co-founded VectorScient, a Predictive Analytics software for Retail and Distributors.

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  • Posted on: 01/14/2022

    Can the metaverse solve retail’s returns challenges?

    AR/VR has great potential to reduce returns. But it takes a lot of effort and it is category-specific. Home decor and furniture need accurate in-room visualization. Colors and fit need to be shown accurately for clothing and apparel. Installation videos for furniture, electronics, and kitchen appliances will help a lot. In short, technology like Metaverse is just an enabler, and businesses still need to do the heavy lifting. Some of the issues around returns are self-inflicted. Policies like two-way free shipping, "try many and keep only what you like" will encourage excessive returns. Businesses make easy returns one of the core benefits for consumers, but it is the biggest margin detractor.
  • Posted on: 01/10/2022

    Has BOPIS lost its pandemic boost?

    BOPIS remains one of the essential tools in the toolbox, particularly for those who have already implemented it. But the innovation should continue to drive the cross-sell. That effort is missing in nearly every retailer. In most places the BOPIS desk functions as a locker which is fully automated, missing the revenue opportunities. Instead, retailers could offer three or four add-on products right at the time of pickup, depending on the product that the customer is picking up. Retailers are depending on customers to wander around the aisles and make additional purchases, which is a lost opportunity.
  • Posted on: 01/10/2022

    Are AI-powered customer service agents already human enough?

    Chatbots can sound human, but the trust will improve if it is disclosed up front that customers are dealing with bots and help is only a tap away. Effective utilization of chatbots in improving customer service outcomes depends on three aspects.
    1. The knowledge base and issue/resolution database should be rich enough to address 90 percent of the scenarios;
    2. Automated issue resolution and authority for the bots such as issuing refunds, return authorizations, credits, etc., up to certain threshold amounts, and scenarios;
    3. Still have a human as a backup. No system can be 100 percent automated.
  • Posted on: 01/05/2022

    Will customers subscribe to Sweetgreen’s plan to make pricey salads less pricey?

    The principles of simple and effective loyalty programs apply to any type of recurring subscription:
    1. Give a sustained use discount: Anytime I cross a certain amount of spend/visits, give cashback.
    2. Give the option to reserve: Pre-pay and get a discount.
    3. Spot promotion: Announce surprise discounts/flash discounts valid only for a day or specific time to drive traffic and utilize excess capacity.
  • Posted on: 01/05/2022

    Will customers subscribe to Sweetgreen’s plan to make pricey salads less pricey?

    This program is too complicated and comes with too many strings to be effective. It requires minimum purchase and expires within 30 days. It has limited appeal even for existing customers. It may help retention, but I don't believe it is an effective program to pull new customers in.
  • Posted on: 01/05/2022

    Walmart says it’s ready to deliver groceries inside 30 million American homes

    While letting strangers into homes will give jitters to many, there is a critical mass of consumers who are comfortable trading privacy and security for convenience. We should expect varying solutions that give a trade-off between security and convenience. An on-property solution with a secure fridge/shelf to drop groceries, much like a mailbox, or an in-garage solution that gives access to the garage code and not to the main home. I also expect Walmart to offer fridges on three to five-year leases. A family of four committing to spend $250 on groceries could get a free replacement of fridge every five years, for instance. Appliances are one of those categories with long replacement cycles, and manufacturers like GE, Samsung, and Whirlpool should be very interested in partnering.
  • Posted on: 01/03/2022

    Are Nike’s Member Days loyalty’s future?

    Nike is constantly raising the bar with its user engagement strategies. Not every brand has the brand equity or product range to mimic these strategies. But the spirit of the strategies should be adopted by every brand - Loyalty rewards that actually mean something, a program that is easy to understand, and one that encourages stickiness and retention.
  • Posted on: 12/02/2021

    Is Amazon gouging its marketplace sellers?

    Amazon is a great platform for reach, but not very good for making money if that is the the only place where the seller is operating. Between listing fees, monthly fees, FBA fees, advertising costs, and shipping costs - it is hard to make margins. Once Amazon locks in, it is hard to get out of the grind. The alternatives are not good enough. And Amazon knows this and adds additional fees at every step along the value chain.
  • Posted on: 11/29/2021

    Will lean inventories derail off-pricers?

    Overall inventory levels may be low, but that doesn't mean the right levels of inventory. There is always excess in some categories/products, while others have stockouts. But it is true that discount retailers and treasure hunt stores like Ross and Burlington are going to be impacted to an extent. A recent visit to Burlington was a disappointment with a very anemic selection even in their core winter coat categories. Their job is made a little harder and they have to recalibrate their assortments.
  • Posted on: 11/19/2021

    Will Macy’s curated marketplace distinguish it from online rivals?

    You can’t find fault with Macy's wanting to launch a marketplace. Only that it took so long and lost time, marketshare and mindshare in the process. Secondly, it is head-scratcher why Macy’s is not doing acquisitions in this space. Building this organically again takes a lot of time to both build platform and build audience.
  • Posted on: 11/19/2021

    What’s driving shoppers to Amazon?

    As a Prime member for nearly 20 years, all of the reasons resonate. In the end they are summarized into two things - One is familiarity/habit. Second is never being let down on returns, price, shipping, delivery, or making things right when marketplace sellers don’t deliver. Even when I occasionally have shopped around, I look at Amazon for reviews and, more often than not, eventually order from Amazon. For high ticket items, Costco is my first choice with an unbeatable price/quality ratio. Common things for both Amazon and Costco are the subscription model, the stickiness it results in, and the customer first attitude both retailers exhibit in every transaction.
  • Posted on: 11/17/2021

    Is mobile enhancing the in-store shopping experience?

    Physical retailers cannot wish away the usage of mobile devices or the fact that customers do comparison shopping. At the same time, mobile devices with a high degree of location accuracy give retailers data that they never had before. But retailers need to invest in mobile apps to take advantage of that. Retailers can know, with a great degree of precision, which products and aisles are looked at with more interest, or have better chances of converting with in-store only promotions or valid-for-the visit-only promotions. Retailers should offer in-app mobile checkout.
  • Posted on: 11/11/2021

    Do retailers get how social holiday shopping has become?

    The behavior will further the divide between online and physical retail. Online retailers, particularly the savvy ones, understand these dynamics and are well-positioned. But physical-only retailers or those with limited online presence already lag on their online marketing and rely excessively on foot traffic and local mailers. And the social shopping trend will impact them most.
  • Posted on: 11/11/2021

    Will AMC deliver blockbuster results in the popcorn aisle?

    Concessions drive huge amounts of revenue and margins for theater chains. Customers pay exorbitant prices not for quality, but because of time, place, and occasion. Hotdogs sell for $10 at a ball game. That doesn't mean people will pay that much in a normal retail setting. I don't recall the taste of AMC popcorn or how different it is from Regal popcorn or the discount theater popcorn in my city. Sorry, but this doesn't make sense. Given the low-risk launch profile, the damage may not be as much.
  • Posted on: 11/10/2021

    Should retailers take prices higher?

    Retailers will have a delicate balancing act to do, for which they need to be data-savvy. With the ultimate goal of balancing sales and profitability, they need to determine which products have more price elasticity so that they can pass on the costs, which products they can promote together to maintain overall margin, and which products for which they cannot afford to pass on the costs. It's not easy at all, and this capability cannot be acquired overnight. I expect retailers who have been data-savvy to excel at this, while the rest take a rather simplistic approach that will invariably hurt their sales and margins.

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