Today’s LSPs have grown in terms of thinking and outlook: Rajat Sharma, Hamilton Housewares

Rajat Sharma, Hamilton

The household name Hamilton India, in over 30 years of its existence, has catered to its customer’s requirements with quality houseware products. The company, which has a global presence in over 80 countries, has been driving its business with innovation as its fuel. To take a peek into India’s beloved houseware brand’s supply chain, we reached out to Rajat Sharma, Head – SCM, Hamilton Housewares, who spoke to us on a range of topics including the challenges faced by the company during the pandemic, the importance of collaboration, the role played by technology in driving supply chain excellence and much more. Edited excerpts:

The pandemic pushed companies to venture out and explore omnichannel retail to cope up with the changing consumer demands. How have you at Hamilton Houseware adapted to the change and what were the challenges faced in setting up the company’s omnichannel network/operations?

The pandemic did get the supply chain to halt for a certain period, but Hamilton’s timely investments in omnichannel partnerships and own network of Ecommerce operations proved their worth, in this time of crisis, when we were able to reach our customers directly/in-directly and service their needs. Also, it allowed us to ensure that all the critical safety aspects are catered to, at all our operating locations. Serving our customers at times like this has been (and continues to be) the driving factor behind our growth in all market segments.

Our partnerships with CFA/3PL network allowed us to place stocks nearer to the markets and achieve the flexibility of servicing orders from multiple nodes depending on the alternating traffic signals from various state borders. Similarly, our basket of transportation partners allowed safe storage & movement of goods via shared warehouses and shared freight services. It is the deep trust in our network of long-standing relations, due to which we were able to stay calm with stocks at shared warehouses under obvious multi-dimensional risks.

The housewares segment has extremely high skews and seasonality of demand. How does the company align its supply chain to strike the right balance between demand and supply while also keeping in mind the cost-to-serve?

This has been a perennial challenge for supply chains in various segments, housewares alike. Over the years we’ve gained experience on the seasonal and festive patterns and skews. And we started investing in technology at various levels of the supply chain, years ago, and we’ve continually used data at these various echelons to create a scientific basis for our forecasting baselines. Our tech investments allowed us to keep going deeper and hence moving from a pure push system to creating push-pull hybrids that match the reality of the world we operate in.

The marrying of the numbers from bottom-up statistical projections and the top-down product family estimates has allowed us to establish an environment that can titrate their figures based on constraints on a higher or lower level, thereby allowing capacity fitments as well as capacity supplementation. This has been the backbone of our S&OP frameworks.

We’ve used the data in the short and long term to get into omnichannel partnerships across freight partners, technology and systems, and space models (fixed owned, fixed long term leased, fixed short term leased, variable long/ short term, seasonal outsourced, etc). Thus it has been planned management of the complete distribution network, without allowing service level betterment to stop, that has given us the edge on cost-to-serve.

How can collaboration help in achieving an efficient supply chain for optimum customer satisfaction, and increased sales?

Today’s customers are looking for ease of buying, paying, and speedy deliveries without compromising their need for variety. Stock availability across various formats has hence become crucial, and reverse logistics has started to play a far more important role. This is the new definition of optimum customer satisfaction.

These objectives cannot be achieved without collaborations at all levels internally and externally. Today it’s not people collaborating, it’s complex supply chains collaborating with many other equally sophisticated supply chains. We have also aligned our network to be able to respond to these diverse needs through collaborations and customisations with functions/ partners/ service providers and experts. Partner collaboration is also taking a completely new shape now, with data sharing and long term plans being taken together; shared visibility is creating new playing grounds with new rules. We’ve gained from integrating partners with IT-based platforms as well as joining hands with aggregators to use their capabilities. This is a field that has a huge potential in the time to come.

On what specific parameters does Hamilton judge the performance of its LSPs?

There’s a set of best-in-industry KPIs that we use for evaluating the performance of our LSPs that reflects in the SLAs. Best built-to-suit infra,
effective and trained people, IT solutions aligned to their processes – creating good visibility for the principals through timely reports/alarms etc.
are basic requirements. Adherence to policies, delivering on SLAs, quality of service, and responsiveness mark the major elements we consider. Yet, we see our LSPs to be experts in their fields and to be able to partner with us for future-readiness apart from the agreed SLAs.

Today’s LSPs have grown in terms of thinking and outlook, they are driving many innovations, to drive efficiencies & use the scale provided by multiple clients. They’re introducing technologies and adapting to innovative ways of collaborating & servicing. This is our new framework to look at partners. We have seen LSPs use backward integration & increase their span of services offered.

This is an abridged version of the interview that was originally published in the February issue of the Logistics Insider magazine. To access the complete interview, click here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *