The backbone of retail organizations: Supply Chain Leaders

SkillingIndia on December 25, 2012 Comments talks to Lalit Agarwal, the Chairman & Managing Director of V-Mart Retail Limited…Excerpts of the interview:

“Robust s
upply chain strategies are a backbone to business organizations today, asserts Lalit Agarwal, Chairman & MD, V-Mart Retail Limited.

SkillingIndia: What is the current role of supply chain leaders in Indian retail organizations?

Lalit Agarwal: Indian Retail Organizations are playing a very crucial role in the case of Indian Supply Chain growth. In comparison to the world’s supply chain growth we are yet to attain a balance. With poor transportation and lesser profit margin supply chain growth is very limited. There is a lot of scope for improvement. Not only investment, but also a broader view is required in order to improve the supply chain. Given the Retail potential pie there is scope for improvement starting from procurement (risk management, vendor management) till delivering of goods to the end customer.

The purpose and the function of a supply chain leader is to set up supply chains and logistical capabilities, spurring significant improvements in the infrastructure, transport, store and deliver products (covering all aspects of value chain and supply chain activities, including storage, warehousing, and information-intensive operations).

SkillingIndia: What are the key skills and experiences that future supply chain leaders will require?

Lalit Agarwal: Skills are important, but more than that the whole thought process needs to undergo a paradigm-shift. More than reactive, a proactive approach is required. Taking calculated risks and balancing both vendors and end consumers with ease is the need of India’s growth parameter. As the Retail Index plays a vital role in the economy better managerial skills including innovation and quick implementation are key skills one can rely upon in the future.

A supply chain person will be called to be a true leader if he/she has the ability to foresee future market changes and the ability to sync with the company’s future goals; it is important for them to always think ahead considering all the organization changes taking place due to technological development. The idea is that an organization is either the one leading the changes or, at the very least, the one with enough visibility to picture them coming in order to react and adapt quickly.

SkillingIndia: How can organizations identify and develop supply chain leaders that possess the vital competencies?

Lalit Agarwal: Vision is the key indicator. Without the vision for growth and the rapidness in taking decisions, it will only create followers and not experts. With huge retail customer potential in India, organizations need to develop crucial skills in its human resources throughout its value chain.

SkillingIndia: It is observed that sometimes supply chain leaders who are effective in developed economies struggle in emerging markets. Why? What challenging new demands it places on them?

Lalit Agarwal: Yes, it is right that many leaders who are extremely effective in sophisticated and developed economies struggle in emerging markets. But, it has two aspects to it. First, the emerging market is full of opportunity, although, that comes with great challenges. With no or less competition the demand is very difficult to predict. If retailers are not very responsive and proactive then it could lead to loss of opportunity.

With the growth of communication channels the world has obtained unbelievable reach, which definitely plays a vital role in changing the demand in new emerging markets. Here, one plays with the prediction and analytical strength they have, but always restrict their thinking pattern up to those thought boundaries only.

Secondly, in the light of the growing impact of emerging economies on industries and organizations worldwide, it is clear that the future supply chain leaders need to understand intimately the challenges involved in operating in geographies with different socio-economic backgrounds, which they always miss out on while operating in different environments.

SkillingIndia: Can you share a best supply chain practice that leaders can learn from?

Lalit Agarwal: Robust supply chain strategies are a backbone to business organizations today. An organization should detail, plan and strategize the procurement strategy, selection of sourcing locations, design and develop distribution strategy and mechanism.

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