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“We are one of the oldest organizations in the grooming industry, driven by innovation, technology and meeting customers’ requirements over decades. While designing a product, globalization is the alpha parameter; gauging the need, a product gets localization touch, which drives through the flow of regional demands,” shares Ponraj Periswami, Head – Supply Chain Management at an MNC.

How different and complex is the supply chain for the personal grooming space opposed to your earlier stints in Healthcare and Industrial?

Every industry has its own dynamics and complexity as personal grooming has its own dynamics. Innovation and adaptability of technology is part of every industry and so here too. For males, it’s no more just about a haircut or beard trimming or shaving, it has gone beyond that; and it has become more of a style statement for men. Surprisingly some of the brands have a category for pets, which includes trimmers, accessories, shampoos and so on. In terms of supply chain complexity, it’s more of positioning of new SKUs with features and price point. Continuous improvement is one of the key factors for new SKUs being added in the product basket. The challenging factors are counterfeits in the market, locally assembled poor-quality parts and sub-standard spare parts, unawareness over usage of right tools and methods for desired application.

What are the USPs of grooming segment?

I believe, we are one of the oldest organizations in the grooming industry, which has been driven by innovation, technology and meeting customers’ requirements over decades. Training and enhancing the skills of every groomer and professional is one of the key USPs along with product performance. While designing a product, globalization is the alpha parameter; gauging the need, a product gets the localization touch, which drives through the flow of regional demands.

Do you have omni-channel retail strategy? How do you foresee the scenario shaping up in the age of e-commerce?

I believe, in India, it’s going to be the way forward for most of the consumer-driven industries. Price point and innovative product is going to be highly in demand and every brand in the race has been using multiple platforms like e-commerce as well as their own websites. Social media has become one of the crucial channels, which compliments the omni-channel drive.

In your stints with MNCs, how do you align India operations with the global entities? Please give examples.

Supply chain management is the backbone for any Indian operation be it manufacturers, traders or kitters. However, for economy of scale, every organization has to look towards ‘Make in India’ drive and the same should be long-term plan for sustainable growth.

Are there any peculiar challenges in managing a complex SCM network in India and overseas as most of the products must be imported as well? How do you manage inbound supply chain in that case?

In supply chain, network or geography of sourcing or final delivery to customer is the peculiar challenge, since it’s a consumer driven market and witnesses high demand fluctuations due to seasonality, festive cycle and climate too. Moreover, for manufacturing, RM/ PM has longer lead-time. The overall culminated impact on the product availability either ways has trigger over business and in such scenarios, maintaining customer delight through innovative products and services becomes the most delegate element of the business. Currently, most of the organizations are focusing on demand-driven projections or predictions rather than typical sales projections. Sales-based projections strengthen the process and gets the organization more closure to accurate planning and execution.

How did you overcome supply chain challenges when you were in Healthcare and Industrial sectors?

Healthcare supply chain is quite complex and unique at the same time as it involves monitoring the acquisition of products and their path from origin to destination. But some of the supplies are a matter of life and death. Let me share with you a few vital challenges in healthcare:

• Overnight shipping over-situational demand

• Hidden cost involved in the healthcare segment

• Shortage of medicines

• Shortage of data or information

• Real-time system integration

• Advisors’ choice over a particular brand medicine.

Towards the solutions side, we have the only option of having transparency, which drives the integration of real-time information using AI, IOT and ML right from the hospital to patient. On the industrial end, it’s more of Justin-Time (JIT) based supplies to ensure the production line is up and running to deliver maximum yield as planned. However, the known challenges are demand variability, delayed response time, lack of visibility of demand and supply status, lack of collaboration between manufacturing and suppliers, etc. In both the sectors, we would see that the solution is to get your suppliers and partners involved in the business and have high-level transparency over business through the upgradation of technology or capital investments or training and development of employees. Ultimately, we need to be closer to our customer because he is the reason for our existence.

How do you build and maintain partnerships with your vendors as well as partners in expanding your base?

Transparency in the business is the only available master key for the industry. Hence, we see our suppliers and vendors as more of business partners rather than just suppliers. We are witnessing the EDIs, supplier portals, VMIs and blanket orders are the few examples available currently in the industry. Moreover, the strength of each supplier and geography is also one of the vital components while considering suppliers or vendors and in the expansion and positioning plan.

How do you predict demand and maintain demand-supply equilibrium?

In customer industry, it’s one of the toughest elements in the business. Hence organizations are moving towards more demand-driven parameters. These days, technology tools such as artificial intelligence, machine learning and blockchain are getting more involved to bring down the variability, probability and so on. However, human intelligence and touch are the final lid over the subject to concreate decision making.

What have been some of the most challenging projects helmed by you in your career?

I would like to call out couple of examples here – one was setting up temperature-controlled warehouse, right from identifying the geographic location to operationalizing it and serving pan-India customers. Second most challenging project managed by me was distribution network mapping for one of the confectionery companies. Both these projects led to immense learning and interactions with multiple industry stalwarts.

What would be your supply chain mantra to co-exist and build a stronger future for the company and the country?

I always kept my supply chain mantra simple basis these three key pillars – Efficiency, which is First time right and Being agile; Systems & Process, which should be sustainable, repeatable and measurable; and Cost optimization, which drives the operation excellence and sustainable cost.

Please share with us the role of supply chain for India in the near future…

Supply chain is one of the most exciting fields in the current regime, which is existing in every sphere of our life irrespective of the industry, segment, business and so on, either in the form of services or products. A classic example is our mother or wife at home and the way they manage the inventory, space, low shelf life items, cash flow and running cost. This is the best example I would love to share.

As we are a growing nation with such vast geography and complexity in demand, culture and language, supply chain is getting tougher and asking for more skilled people rather than just transporters or handlers. It’s no more just a point-to-point delivery or holding stocks, it’s ultimately all about ensuring CUSTOMER DELIGHT.

How do you foresee the Indian economy growing from here on?

India has high potential of growth as we have the youngest human resource generation, and our adaptability towards culture and technology is a bit quicker. In the last two decades, India has changed the way it used to do business or even normal lifestyle. Going ahead, initiatives such as Make in India with world-class products and at competitive price will strengthen our global positioning.

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