India Specific Go-To Market Supply Chain Strategy

If I think about India, the first thing which comes to my mind is the ‘Diversity’ and it is so unique to India. To put up in a single sentence, India is a country of diversity in religion, caste, language, architecture, food and culture.

That sounded really great but this puts in a lot of pressure on the businesses operating in India in the form of understanding the needs of customers across country and fulfilling them through a product or a service.

But, no multi national organization can just ignore India since India is a land of opportunity; with around 1.3+ Billion people the rewards for businesses are also huge.

In order to be successful in Indian Market, ‘An India Specific Strategy’ is key. Never underestimate the complexity in India, it is equivalent to servicing 100 different groups of customers whose taste, style and buying behaviour is so different from each other. But, if you ask me that makes is so exciting too!!!

Why India specific strategy is so important?

I have personally seen ‘Confident silicon valley brains underestimating Indian Market and fail miserably in India’. Similarly, there are instances where-in billion dollar giant firms failing so badly in India.

“Failure in Indian Market is inevitable if nook and corner understanding of the Indian market is not part of the new market strategy” So in addition to brains, a hands-on understanding of this market is so crucial.

Out of all different programs I have driven, India Specific Strategy projects are one of the most exciting ones; the learning during the research and planning phase just amazes me every project every time.

The following is the proven sequence of broad heads, we follow at Hesol to set up an India Specific Strategy:

  • Indian Market Research – this is real foundation for the entire program. A hairline miss here would impact the entire new market expansion program and easily the losses would be in millions.

This 30-50 pages document sets the tone for the entire new market expansion program. We are talking about some serious market research here and not google search to document which is already known.

More than 1000(s) of man hours are invested through field trips, surveys, measurement and interviews to complete this research document which quantifies the uncertainty.

If you want to see more specific projects with specific templates or models used, please visit this link for the case studies

  • Demand & Supply Map – basis the research and analysis, the customer points and the sourcing points are established. The main factors here are the ease of doing business, cost, flexibility and quality.
  • Supply Chain Strategy – supply chain strategy would be a sub set of the overall strategy and a very important one. SCM Strategy would touch in all the key touch points of the business. Supply chain strategy maps out the high level schematic of the material flow, stocking points and the service levels. If you would like to read supply chain strategy specific projects, please read case studies here
  • Network Modelling – when the number of variables is so high i.e. for specific sectors like FMCG, Textile and Automotive, we may use the network modellers. But, this has to be done only after setting up the overall SCM strategy since all the supply chain strategy parameters goes as constraints and input to the network model. Most modelling software partners will confidently say that even strategy can be set in – but from my experience it will be really too much data to process.

Modelling tools are not magic boxes to just serve the solution on a plate; they depend heavily on the quality of data we input. If we make more assumptions here, it could easily become a case of ‘Garbage In Garbage Out’.

  • Supply Chain Simulation – this could be little confusing as why we do again a supply chain simulation when we have already done the strategy for SCM and also a network modelling. Yes, it is totally new and actually that gives the real edge in getting closer to the reality at the design stage itself. Hesol is the only firm which does this using our proprietary tools and there are no relevant software available in the market also (any product companies can reach me if you want to build a product here and I can share all what we have learnt and certainly there is a huge value from this); This SCM simulator is like a Scenario Manager and all we do here is run 100s of scenarios to see the result.

SCM Simulator’s key output are the Profitability and Service Levels and we have around 30+ Knobs to change and change in combinations (make or buy, stocking locations, stocking levels, resource availability, lead times, demand, variability ratios, yield %, outsourcing, costs at various levels etc.) Using these multiple scenarios are evaluated and the solution design is refined as close to perfection.

  • Logistics Strategy

Legal, Taxes, W&M, Handling, Storing, Transportation and Preservation related key decisions are put in place here. Specifically for India, we are in a much unorganized logistics sector and this is very crucial. Logistics strategy will also keep into account all possible political and economic scenarios prevailing and what is forecasted.

  • Pricing Strategy

Once all the above heads are completed, we have a clear understanding of the supply chain costs and well quantified. Pricing strategy totally depends on the channel and the competitive ratio of the product in the market it is competing.

  • Customer Experience

Most of the expansion programs will miss this and most times it is considered to be part of execution. I’m a strong believer in planning and if we really put customer first then this should be part of the India Specific Go-To Market strategy. In the customer experience piece, the following key areas are decided – (1) Seamless execution of order to delivery (2) Seamless financial transactions (3) Agile reverse flow also (4) Service plan and availability.

We are in a time where we see lot of promising business hitting the end of the road within months; in my personal opinion, the main root of the issue is ‘lack of rigour in execution and insufficient controls to run a tight operations’


About the Author: Alvis Lazarus is a ‘Senior Leader in Supply Chain & Logistics with more than a decade (15 Years) of SCM hands-on experience in devising Country Level and Global Supply chain strategies, Solutions design and spear heading Supply chain Implementation across 10+ Countries. He has handled All India Operations at 3M, Flipkart and Commonfloor and also served in a Global Consultant Role with Caterpillar. He is a Certified Lean & Six Sigma MBB and Champion – coached more than 500+ Lean and Six Sigma Green belts and Black Belts. Holds the distinction of driving Supply Chain programs across various industries such as Retail, E-Commerce, Automotive, FMCG, Health Care, Manufacturing and Real Estate.

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