Currently serving as the VP and CIO at Arvind Lifestyle Brands Limited, Piyush Kumar Chowhan has worked across US, UK and India in the areas of retail strategy, business analytics, supply chain management, customer loyalty, CRM and much more. At Arvind Lifestyles, he is responsible for strategizing IT and executing technology for all its brands business.
Specializing in business analytics, retail analytics, IT strategy & delivery, PMO setup and more, he has also helped various organizations in setting up new strategic groups by implementing analytics to achieve strong business benefits.
With a strong domain knowledge in retail, ecommerce, supply chain management, he has worked with global retailers like Walmart, Target, Circuit City, Tesco, Best Buy etc. With a reputation of leading through ambiguity and maximising business value using cutting edge technologies and innovation, he has also setup and managed competency centres and teams for retail and supply chain.
In a candid chat with Analytics India Magazine, Piyush Kumar Chowhan, talks about the adoption of analytics in the retail industry, the company’s collaboration with analytics/ BI vendors, and much more. Read the detailed interview as below:
Analytics India Magazine- How has been the adoption of analytics and big data in India specific retail industry? How has been your journey in this space so far?
Piyush Chowhan- Retail Industry has been using the Big Data and Analytics since a decade now. The “born Digital Retail Companies” rely hugely on Data Analytics for their operations like Assortment Planning, Supply Network Plan and Promotion Planning. Traditional Retail companies are catching up in building their Big Data Infrastructure and have been building Analytics Capability in their organizations. Indian retail companies have all understood the need for data driven decision making for creating a differentiation among the competition. They are now investing time and resources to enhance their internal capabilities to be ready for the future.
AIM- How is Arvind Lifestyles using analytics? Would you like to highlight specific use cases?
PC- Arvind Lifestyle has also embarked on its journey of Analytics about two years back and is moving ahead on creating an Analytics Capability across the organization. The Analytics journey has been done in three verticals.
- Customer Analytics – The entire customer Data is Managed centrally and all the Customer insights are drawn from the same using Advanced Analytics. Customer profiling is done and targeted promotions are curated to enable customized offering for different customer segments.
- Supply Chain Analytics – The entire supply chain planning from Inventory Planning to Replenishment is managed through Analytics Engine which uses Machine Learning Algorithms to make sure that inventory is optimized to customer demand.
- Sales Analytics – Sales data is put into Analytics engine to generate insights which help in taking sales and inventory decisions more accurately.
AIM- Would you like to share some of the analytics solutions that you have worked on?
PC- I have worked on development and deployment of Analytics solutions in varied areas which includes Supply Chain to Customer Analytics.
I have worked on development of Channel Rebate Analytics for Hi-tech industry where the claims are forecasted and optimized for maximization of promotions effectiveness.
I have built Customer Analytics Platform for a very large retailer on which all the targeted promotions are defined and delivered on real time basis to their loyal customers. The initiative led to creation of one of the most successful Customer Loyalty program in the world.
AIM- Would you like to talk about collaborations with analytics/ BI vendors that Arvind Lifestyle Brands is vouching by?
PC- We have always maintained best in class policy for building our Analytics Platform. The strategy is to identify industry specific solutions and build our IP around that. We have implemented solutions by Manthan / Capillary / Tableau and other tools in our Analytics Journey. We have also built a lot of custom tools for our Supply Chain Analytics solutions. We are looking at latest technology solutions on HANA to build our Data Lake which will provide data from our backend.
AIM: While the online shopping experiences has seen the adoption of AI and recommendation engines. How do you think are similar experiences in the in-store shopping far away? Is Arvind Lifestyle looking to adopt any technologies like AI and machine learning?
PC- We are actively looking at adoption of AI and Machine Learning Engine to enhance the buying experience for our customers. We have looked at Sound and Vision Scanning Algorithms which will help in identifying our customers so that we can interact effectively with them. These technologies are maturing and we are doing experiments with multiple vendors to make sure that we are ahead of the curve.
Merger of Sound / Image and other social data is providing a huge opportunity for creation of AI platforms to enhance the customer interaction journey.
AIM- What are the major challenges of adopting analytics in retail industry?
PC- The ability to capture end to end customer information is the biggest challenge for a retailer. The ability to merge structured and unstructured data into an Analytics Platform and be able to generate cohorts effectively is a challenge in today’s landscape. There is sudden surge of data and ability to manage the same and generate meaning out of the same is a challenge.
The other big challenge is getting resources who have good understating of retail domain and superior Analytics capability. There are very few Retail Data Scientists which is far less than the demand.
AIM- What is your roadmap/plans for analytics at your company in the future?
PC- We have embarked on a journey to make the organization Analytics driven in next couple of year. We have invested in the digital transformation journey by implementing latest ERP and POS solution which will help in collecting end to end data for our business. This data will then be pushed into a data lake to enhance the analytical decision making capability for our business users.
AIM- What are the trends you see emerging in analytics space?
PC- Analytics is going to be ingrained in all the decision making process of companies. Hence a lot of Analytics solutions will start seeing use of Artificial intelligence / Machine learning algorithms to execute decisions which are currently being done by human beings. The current predictive analytics solution will mature and more and more machines will start taking decisions which are being taken by humans today. This poses a huge opportunity to build solutions which are robust and also specific to industry knowledge.