Tata banks on technology to make ecommerce site CliQ with customers 


May 31, 2016

Jochelle Mendonca, The Economic Times

Mumbai, 31 May 2016

What does it take to build an ecommerce platform? Well, just on the money side, Tata Unistore, the Tata group’s online sales arm, paid TCS Rs 36.48 crore in the runup to the launch of the website. 

There’s another Rs 20.9 crore of work done in FY16 that is yet to be paid out, TCS’ annual report showed. 

The TataCliQ ecommerce site that launched last week had TCS as its primary technology partner . 

Data analytics for the site will be provided by Tata IQ, the company said in its presentation.

The Group says it is a creating a ‘one-of-its-kind, omnichannel’ marketplace which would allow customers to ship-to-stores, collect-from-stores and return-to-stores.

Experts said the process requires a great deal of technology to connect stores to an online site, because different merchandise inventory systems would need to be connected. The company had to connect its front-end online ordering system, the store points-of-sale and mobile applications to back-systems like its warehouse, inventory management system, customer service and analytics.

“Technology plays a great part, because if you don’t have the technology, the different systems can’t talk to each other and the customer won’t get a seamless experience, which is the basis of omni-channel,” Devangshu Dutta, CEO of retail consultancy firm Third Eyesight, told ET.

Tata CliQ is based on a customised ecommerce platform from SAP called Hybris. The company has an in-house team and 20 technology partners, including some startups such as Chennai-based artificial intelligence startup Mad Street Den. The startup, which has been funded by Reservoir Investments’ Exfinity Fund and GrowX Ventures, provides visual search and visual recommendation solutions to Tata CliQ. “In fashion, if someone is looking at a little black dress, typically it makes sense to show them more offerings of that kind. And then you could have further personalisation, because with artificial intelligence that is possible,” Ashwini Asokan, co-founder and CEO at Mad Street Den, said.

Asokan, who declined to give specifics on the partnership with the Tatas, also works with ecommerce startups such as Voonik and Craftvilla. She added that the pace of technology adoption in the ecommerce market in India was much faster than Western markets.

“The cycle here is two-to-four weeks. Elsewhere you still have to go through a pilot. It will really be interesting to see how this plays out with the Tatas vs Reliance vs the Birlas. In 12-18 months, I think the ecommerce market in India will look completely different,” Asokan said.

(Published in The Economic Times)