SAP Ganges for a Better Supply Chain

Das SAP-Ganges-Team (Photo: SAP)
Photo: SAP

Small retail business owners in India are often isolated from, and negatively impacted by supply chain factors that can mean the difference between running a sustainable profit, or not. Efficiency, gaps, thin margins, and limited growth potential are especially worrisome for mom-and-pop shops at risk of not being able to compete for business just in time. “We exist because of our customers. If we can’t provide their requirement, it not only results in a loss of business, but also a loss of trust. Next time they will not come to us,” says Anand Babu, a small retail business owner feeling the pressure of managing his inventory levels and his ability to anticipate demand.

On the other side of the value chain, manufacturers, wholesalers, and distributors may be forced to rely on a delayed information flow and lack the infrastructure to connect and manage data from their own customers, especially when their operations are scattered across the country.

“We’ve spent almost a year with design thinking and then we went to over two-hundred retailers, fifty distributors, wholesalers and CPGC companies, to understand their business processes and their pain points, and evaluated from there where the capabilities of the solutions that we provide should be,” says Abhijit De, VP and initiative lead SAP Retail Network and project lead for SAP Ganges, a project named after India’s famed river.

“The idea was first brought to life by a small team under Global Business Incubation team”. Starting out in April 2012, the team used a design thinking approach to engage the stakeholders, process maps, assess their pain points, and define personas. Later they enlisted in the help of other teams from around the world to design a solution to address the inefficiencies, and funded the development work through crowd sourcing.

“When we spoke to retailers, we understood the difficulty that is inherent in their business. The most common complaint was the inability to supply the customers what they wanted, when they wanted it. We thought of solving this”, says Raghavendra Bhuvan, of the SAP Ganges team.

SAP Ganges end users are unique in that they may only have little or no experience working with a point of sale (PoS) system and some, especially those operating in smaller communities, are only semi-literate. The solution includes an out-of-the-box PoS device to process transactions, a web-based interface for billing and inventory management along with a real-time connection to distributors.

In addition to the value for retailers, distributors, and manufacturers, the SAP Ganges solution offers benefits for credit institutions and banks as well. Business owners are given the tools to monitor and track their sales activities, which could be used to encourage outside investment to help grow their operations. The pilot for SAP Ganges was rolled out in August 2012.

SAP Ganges ties in with SAP’s strategy and the goal to reach one billion users by 2015. By expanding into retailer and distributor segments across the globe, the company not only broadens its addressable market but also builds new ecosystems and partnerships and becomes a business platform company leveraging the strengths of SAP HANA and Cloud.

The network was launched in India on Dec 11, 2013, and aims to connect one million retailers, twenty-thousand distributors, the top twenty-five CPG companies and top ten Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) throughout India by 2015. “SAP Ganges leverages the power of SAP HANA to transform the consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry in India. By enabling last mile connectivity, SAP Ganges provides end-to-end visibility of the entire supply chain for CPG companies – through distributors and all the way up to the small retail outlet. SAP Ganges is truly an exemplary solution that will power Inclusive growth in India,” says Anirban Dey, Managing Director of SAP Labs India. SAP Ganges provides end-to-end visibility of the entire supply chain for CPG companies – through distributors and all the way up to the small retail outlet. SAP Ganges is truly an exemplary solution that will power inclusive growth in India

The business benefits of the initiative are obvious: SAP Ganges has a large socio-economic impact: it re-imagines the last node of the distribution network, the retailers, as central to the whole process, and thus empowers the margins. Subsidies worth 1.9 trillion Indian Rupees can prospectively reach the beneficiaries effectively, with the aid and extended reach provided by the PoS devices of SAP Ganges.

SAP Ganges allows individuals and families to modernize their operations and thereby maximize their revenue potential, offering the opportunity to innovate that may not have otherwise been possible or within reach. The solution enables even the smallest-scale neighborhood retailers to gather and interpret their data more effectively, and to interact with the supply chain in a more meaningful way – whether or not they are located just next door.

“SAP Ganges will create a disruptive opportunity in the marketplace. It will meet the need for inexpensive, easy-to-use and end-to-end connected solutions in emerging and retail-intensive economies. It also will strengthen SAP’s presence in cloud and business networks area,” says project lead Abhijit. He is convinced SAP Ganges works the way people do – in a social, mobile, and insightful manner – and enables new revenue models for different players involved in the value chain, including banking partners, information technology partners, telecom partners, and appliance manufacturers.

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