Part of the Apeejay Surrendra Group, Oxford Bookstore, is an 80-year old book retailer. The bookstore has about 35 stores (including the franchise) that cover most metro cities in India.
From an IT perspective, the unique need for the firm was to support an aggressive business growth plan with limited or no capital expenditure. "The other challenge was to integrate and scale the IT solution across channels like physical stores, Web-stores, institution sales etc," said Subhasish Saha, chief technology officer, Apeejay Surrendra Group.
Hence the bookstore was looking for a simple, cost-effective and scalable system that could integrate the offline and online stores and help in driving the business. Accordingly, Oxford Bookstore started utilizing the IT-as-a-Service (ITaaS) offering from Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) (now known as Tata iON). The company has a five-year partnership with TCS.
Oxford selected the ITaaS model from TCS because it allowed the firm to choose what was relevant to its present need from an integrated suite of hardware, network, and software products. The added advantage came in the form of business, technical, and consulting services from a firm like TCS. More importantly, no capital investment was required as the company was utilizing IT infrastructure and software on rent that was charged monthly.
Some analysts say that if the total cost of a SaaS model is calculated over a longer period of time, it could outweigh the cost of acquiring software with one-time payment. We asked Oxford the same question. Here is what Saha had to say: "The technology adoption strategy for Oxford has been relying on a no-CAPEX model. It is true that when the cost is calculated for five years then there won't be much difference. But with a proprietary solution we would have to face the one-time payment, maintenance, and upgradation challenge." The cloud model has also enabled the integration between Oxford's physical and online stores.
Oxford Bookstore's online channel was built as an extension of its physical stores with a conscious strategy to provide its online customers the same flavor of collection.
With the help of the cloud service, Oxford is now well equipped to provide multiple offerings through well-integrated physical and Web stores. For example, gift vouchers issued from the stores can be redeemed through online purchases or a loyalty customer can earn or burn points irrespective of the medium of transactions. Overall, the solution has helped in reducing the shipping time by 50%.
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