December 20, 2011

IIM Raipur Students Interact with Core Industries at National Expo - 3

The students of Indian Institute of Management Raipur had interactions aimed at knowledge-exchange with the entrepreneurs and representatives of the micro, small scale and medium scale enterprises (MSMEs) who participated in the National Expo 3. The expo was organized at Science College Ground in Raipur under the banner of Indore Infoline Pvt. Ltd. from 16th December to 18th December, 2011.

National Expo 3 is the largest industry exhibition in central India. Almost 200 companies from core sectors like steel, power, cement, mining, infrastructure, construction and automation participated in the event. The list includes Siemens Ltd., Wendt (India) Ltd., Doshion Ltd., Atlas Copco India Ltd. and many small scale and medium scale enterprises. Moreover, some foreign companies, mainly from China and Singapore, were also present. This exhibition provided them an opportunity to display their products and technology and to interact with potential customers. It also proved to be a very useful platform for some budding companies and new products as they got significant exposure.

The students of IIM Raipur took up this opportunity and attended the National Expo 3 with the sole intention of learning through interactions with the local industries. Chhattisgarh is well known for its Core Industries and we experienced it first-hand while talking to the representatives of the various start-ups who also were participating. Many of the students have some prior experience in the core sectors like steel, power, mining, construction etc. This further added to the quality and fruitfulness of the interactions as they could easily connect with the industry representatives and understand their problems and practices. We learnt about their technology, logistics, markets, competition and management practices. They also shared with us the problems that they confront while setting up or expanding business in Chhattisgarh as well as those that come up in day-to-day operations. The discussions then went on towards the possible solutions, where we tried to complement their experience with our classroom learning. Finally, we talked about the likely future scenario of industries in Chhattisgarh, and found that almost everyone seemed quite optimistic. We also explored opportunities for making the Expo a bigger success by researching into dimensions like Logistics, Layout, Customer Satisfaction, Branding etc.

In a nutshell, the National Expo 3 proved to be a great learning experience for IIM Raipur students and we look forward to participate in and contribute to such events in the future.

The writer of this article, Abhay Shankar is a PGP student of Indian Institute of Management, Raipur and has done his B. Tech (Chemical Engineering) from BIT Sindri. Prior to joining IIM Raipur, Abhay was working at Vedanta Aluminium Ltd. Abhay can be reached at

December 11, 2011

HUL 'PopEye'

Some think that the retail industry has matured and there are no new opportunities, but Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL) doesn’t think this way. It thinks out of the box. It thinks there are tremendous opportunities in the market. Just imagine a 55% market share in skin care for HUL. If it can retain this and work to develop and expand the market it would fetch HUL a phenomenal growth. For this, INNOVATION alone isn’t enough. There should also be RENOVATION which makes the brand look fresh all the time. Innovation doesn’t just mean launching new products; it shows the company is on a step higher than it was previously. Along with these two, HUL believes in a third aspect, ACTIVATION. The important part of it is how to take innovation and make it alive in the market where the science of marketing is at play.

Study on HUL shows some interesting facts - it has built the detergent market in India with RIN bar, it was the one which brought in the concept of washing powder with SURF. All these examples clearly prove a point - HUL’s main focus is on Brand Building. Taking forward this mission of Brand Building, HUL has launched a new technique named POPeye where in the employees of different departments can flag the products which are in shortage or out of stock in any store across any country. By this they are assuring themselves of not losing consumers to their rival brands.
Under this program the employees enter their feedback which directly lands in a portal or a call centre that has been set up for this purpose. This feedback is validated on a real time basis before alerting the sales department. The company believes that there are more than enough sales employees across the length and breadth of the country who can support the sales in the country.

Six months ago, HUL launched this program in Bengaluru and could get 230 calls from 100 different outlets. The sales department had been alerted and they converted them into action plans for the salesmen. Last month the company extended this program to Chennai and Baddi plant in Himachal Pradesh. Looking forward, the company is expecting a huge increase in the sales opportunities.

Implementing this further would bring great benefit to the company as the loopholes in the distribution system would be eliminated. At present, HUL has an on-shelf availability of 95%. POPeye would spruce up the distribution network, the company believes. Employee involvement has made it possible for HUL to directly reach two million outlets in just two years. POPeye is a broader thought of HUL’s “Mission Bushfire” which was implemented to increase the availability of its products in 16,000 kirana stores. Despite this improvement in ordering system, the store owners are proactive enough to re-order products before a condition of out of stock is reached. The customer satisfaction is expected to improve as the number of out-of-stock complaints against HUL would be drastically reduced.

The benefit of POPeye is that the feedback given by the employees is collected and it is immediately made accessible to the decision makers who analyze it. This provides a clear picture of flow of material through the entire supply chain. It is more like data mining where there is a single point access to the data which could be used by all the departments of the company avoiding confusion between the various departments like Operations, Marketing, Finance and HR. The ease of using the data and efficiency of data access has been improved.

During 2010-11, HUL added over 600,000 outlets and tripled its direct coverage in rural India, which contributed to 50% of its rural growth. POPeye can make the products reach the consumer in a better way. It helps in avoiding the missing out of consumers due to lack of availability or the visibility in a store.

Reference: Economic Times article "HUL launches 'POPeye' to enable staffs flag products shortage in any store" dated 9th November, 2011.

The writer of this article, T V Dheeraj Vishnu is a PGP student of Indian Institute of Management, Raipur. He has done his B.Tech in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from Nalla Malla Reddy Engineering College, Hyderabad and can be reached at or at +91-7587208639.

December 04, 2011

Foreign Direct Investment in Indian Retail Sector

Anything critical that has to be done must and will be done with enough thought and precaution. But, whatever be the case, one is definitely going to face new challenges regarding the decision that’s being taken. The decision can be anything ranging from personal to the highest order in our Nation. So is the case with the FDI, or for that matter any policy being implemented by the government.

To put out a basic fact, the biggest issue in our Nation does not hit the front page of the news paper or the news headline whereas it is simply the news that’s in the front page of a news paper and running in the headline that becomes the issue. First and foremost reason for this is the lack of awareness that people have. Analyzing the reactions from the public it is well understood that the resolution taken for any problem is to terminate the problem rather than finding a prompt solution which would lead to the betterment of the ones involved.

As per the government’s decision ‘Multi-brand’ retailers are allowed 51% FDI. 30% of procurement of their goods must come from the Indian backend. The problem or the issue raised is basically that the small retailers would suffer. True, but only if the bill is passed without any consideration for these retailers. Why then is the government so keen to implement this policy? Is it just a ‘rock’, ‘paper’, ‘scissors’, decision taken by a panel of members and the advisory committee.

Consumers only want their goods at affordable prices and they want the goods to have ‘good quality’, is this not going to increase the competition also within the domestic market to maintain, rather improve the quality of the goods sold. Of course the bill might not entirely be within the best interests of the small retailers but it seems to be in the best interests of the nation. Obviously a resolution can be found for this one problem. The policy should just have provisions ensuring the interests of these retailers. Nothing is impossible, given the resources. It is the Indian government that’s creating the bill and it’s obviously not impossible to draft it in our favor and suite our needs.

The FDI in multi-brand retailing is just going to be a new path of exploration, as was the IT field which took India to new levels. The FDI would curb inflation, and would also add a whole new sea of opportunities for Indians. With the retailers having to buy 30% of their procurement from the domestic market, the farmers would definitely benefit. This could possibly end the middle-man era that has eroded and misplaced the wealth from the place it’s supposed to be in. The increase in competition means better quality for the consumers. With FDI also comes technology and innovation transfer which would further aid our nation in development. For example, better storage facilities for goods would put out a huge margin of loss which has been resulting from improper storage.

The only and most important thing to be serious about is the invasion of Chinese products on the Indian market. Discussions and debates mostly surround only the impact on the small retailers and not the the long term impact this decision is going to make. ‘FDI worked in China, then why not in India?’ is a popular question. Well, the Chinese, unlike Indians, are one of the largest exporters in the world and earn their income mostly on exports. For a matter of fact, 70% of Walmart’s goods come from China, which is why we need to be careful of the ‘Chinese invasion’. If Walmart was an individual investor, it would stand 8th largest investor in China just ahead of Russia. This is how big the impact is going to be.

Everything good comes with a price and we have the responsibility to regulate policies well which would prevent unnecessary trouble later. A regulatory body for this particular sector, if set up, would definitely add to the benefits of the host nation as this body would be committed to that particular sector. Policies are the back bone to any standing decision and to have it framed and implemented for the betterment of the people is the most vital part. India is very well known for bringing up fantastic plans, but ends up favoring the wrong side due to lack of commitment into the policy. This is one reason that every issue in our nation has to be hyped.

To those who say ‘They don’t allow us, then why allow them?’, there’s just one thing to say. People prefer the better, and if the Indian retailer is better than its foreign counterpart, the Indian is going to be the ideal choice. FDI will bring brighter dreams in the future for our nation. The final verdict is that implementing FDI is one of the best choices made by the government; the difference is only going to be a matter of how it is going to be implemented and what steps are taken to have it play for us. It is pre-mature to predict how this would end up, as one can only wait and watch into whose hands the policy plays in the long run.

The writer of this article, Anshu Katiyar is a PGP student of Indian Institute of Management, Raipur. He has done his B.Tech in Information Technology from Dr. M.G.R. University, Chennai and can be reached at