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Meet Anshuman Agarwal – Solving Global Retailing Challenges With New-Age WMS and Inventory Optimization Solutions

First of all, how are you and your team doing in these COVID-19 times?

Despite the unexpected situation during the pandemic and the challenges we faced, personally and professionally, our team stayed strong and focused on ensuring client deliverables are duly met. We expanded our team size by nearly 85% last year across multiple divisions. Recruiting and training resources remotely was an interesting experience and now we are spread across multiple cities and countries.

We were one of the early companies to close office premises at the beginning of the pandemic and encourage employees to work from home for safety. We built operations in a way that remote engagement and online collaborations work smoothly. We have an open culture that makes interactions within a team or cross-function easy, as we encourage employees to reach out to anyone in the company, even the founders, for help and guidance. During covid, we created a database of resources and a special 24/7 task force that employees could reach out to for Covid related help. There was regular update and exchange of information on the availability of vaccines, oxygen cylinders, beds, doctors, etc. if anyone needed any assistance. To date, we have conducted 2 vaccination drives in our office for the employees and their families, and most of us are fully vaccinated.

Tell us about you, your career, how you founded or joined this company?

I am an enthusiastic entrepreneur and a management professional with more than 19 years of work experience as a strategic leader and technology expert. Working with growing startups and tech-industry disruptors, I transformed business processes through re-engineering, digitization, and technological optimization.

Experiencing how technology was changing the retail landscape, solving problems, and bringing efficiency in processes, we co-founders, Rajul, Romil, and I got thinking about how we can build sustainable supply chains, especially for short-life cycle products e.g. fashion, beauty, lifestyle, through intelligent merchandising and smart inventory management. We discussed tech-driven solutions that can help traditional large brands and startups build operational proficiency to scale sustainable businesses. This led to the genesis of Increff, a company that is focused on using high-tech innovative solutions for data-driven decision-making and building efficiencies for retail and fashion brands.

How does your company innovate?

We take client and employee feedback very seriously. Our teams are constantly in touch with the clients and cognizant of their challenges. We evaluate our performance based on set benchmarks and consistently aim to meet the standards and deliver to perfection. We are open to customizing solutions based on the exact requirements, in fact, a few of our innovations are in response to pressing client needs. We also encourage employees to give honest feedback and ideas so we can address the concerns and implement changes as required.

Our technologies are built in-house using trusted technology platforms like;

  • Google Cloud Platform – Deployments
  • Java & Spring Framework – Backend
  • Angular (latest) & Bootstrap – Frontend
  • JIRA & Freshdesk – Issue Tracking & (FAQs + Customer queries)

We are also happy to share that we have been successful in replacing global giants like Manhattan, Infor, JDA, and SAP as inventory management software for large brands like PUMA, Reliance, Arvind, etc., and our cutting-edge merchandising platform Iris is built on patent-pending algorithms that form a solid foundation for new innovative solutions.

How the Coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?

Our solutions are built on smart algorithms that capture the pulse of the fashion and lifestyle industry. They are built keeping in mind the new industry requirements; digitization and automation, which is the future of retail. Increff recorded a surge in the number of clients during the time of Covid as retailers and brands realized the importance of inventory management and data-backed decision-making. While Increff Iris, our merchandising software solution, witnessed a 200% increase in demand, Increff Assure experienced 100% growth and Increff WaaS a 50% growth from the pre-covid phase. As businesses rely more on automation and optimization of inventory, the need for high-tech solutions will keep growing, which will encourage us to innovate and provide best-in-class solutions to our stakeholders.

Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?

Covid-19 was a challenging time for all industries, especially the fashion and lifestyle brands. Most brands focused on offline retail rather than e-commerce. Store closures reduced offline sales leading to large stockpiles of inventory. Our technology solutions are built to optimize inventory across all sales channels; B2B, B2C, e-commerce, and offline stores. During Covid, our challenge was to promote e-commerce and make starting an online business easier for brands that were majorly offline. SellFast, a subset solution of Increff Assure, was specially designed for this purpose.  Using SellFast technology, brands could expose 100% inventory across all marketplaces and capitalize on the existing scenario where e-commerce was more open, and under fewer government regulations, compared to traditional sales outlets. during the pandemic. It allowed brands multi-system integration, a single view of inventory, and faster order processing. This approach was also taken keeping in mind our future growth, basically, brands that start their online journey with us would integrate with Assure later as they grow. Covid was a time for innovation and redesign. The growing industry challenges pushed us to craft solutions that could solve those challenges. The idea for our new innovations, Dynamic pricing module, Regional Utilization module, and ReturnsJini, etc. came due to the growth in e-commerce.

What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?

We have self-designed tools to ease operations, streamline coordination between teams, training, and management of resources. Grow, our end-to-end Applicant Tracking System (ATS) brings transparency to the recruitment process by simplifying each stage and ensuring effortless recruitment of top talent. It records a candidate’s life cycle from the application stage to recruitment or rejection, and allows interviewers to rate them. It is integrated with google calendar to ease blocking time of senior management for interviews. Achieve, our performance management tool records an employee’s growth within the company by keeping track of reviews, ratings, and feedback. It is an open platform for exchanging feedback between colleagues and managers. Our self-paced learning and development platform, LMS (Learning Management System), is hosted on Zoho and is a centralized repository for new joiners to understand our products, business development & technology concepts. The training modules are available in different formats; videos, recordings, documents, presentations, etc, which employees can pick as per convenience. Employees can also upscale, earn certificates and scores, by registering for internal or external courses through LMS. Parallelly we use Google workspace to collaborate in real-time with colleagues, plan meetings with clients, and manage our schedules.  We use Jira to track work progress and set priorities.

Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?

Since we provide expert solutions for various industry challenges, we compete with different companies as we have not found any single company that addresses all solutions. Our competitors include Shiphero and Manhattan Associates for WMS solutions and Impact Analytics and Nextail for merchandising solutions.

Increff aims to become the most impactful technology solution company in the world. After successful execution in India, we are now focusing on global expansion. We have entered into partnerships with various organizations and experts to help us in our global business development plan. We will be automating quite a few elements on the supply side of things for the same customers via various SaaS products. Our major focus is on growth. We dream of becoming a multi-billion-dollar company in 5-7 years from now.

Your final thoughts:

The future of the retail and supply chain is complete end-to-end digitization by making processes, from demand assessment to fulfillment, tech-driven, agile and efficient, while complying with the new norms of social distancing and hygiene. These changes are neither cheap, nor fast, but require immediate attention.

Automation is enhancing productivity, by eliminating manual labor, reducing manpower cost, and improving storage density within warehouses by better utilization of space. As the demand for hourly order fulfillment increases in e-commerce and omnichannel retail, real-time transportation monitoring platforms are giving 100% visibility into order status and shipments, and there’s an increasing need for micro warehousing to facilitate faster local deliveries.

Relying only on enterprise IT solutions for all technological needs is not sufficient. Brands need dedicated technology partners who understand industry requirements and are in a better position to advance digital transformation initiatives to create an optimal mix. Increff offers cutting-edge SaaS technology platforms (Iris and Assure) and innovative services to help the retail industry become more efficient by optimizing inventory. Our solutions are built on a pay-per-use, OpEx model of operations that help brands eliminate CapEx.

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