Edmmond Mesrobian, chief technology officer of UK retail giant Tesco, believes the Indian start-up system is an untapped opportunity and the company is keen for partnerships.
Tesco globally has been working with start-ups in the US and the UK, and with the recent surge, the retail players wants to tap into the start-up community here, too.
“We have actually not formalised any programme for start-ups. Our engagement strategy with these so far is two-pronged. First, we would like these to access to our knowledge base so that if they are working in the retail space they can get some directions from us. Secondly, we are not necessarily looking to acquire these, but we would like to work with them wherein they can also help us in understanding and deploying cutting edge technology,” Mesrobian told Business Standard.
Mesrobian, who came from Expedia and took over the role at Tesco in June last year, has been shaking up the technology process at the company. He agrees that retail companies haven’t traditionally been technology-centric and hence the thought process needs to undergo change if they want to embrace the present technology disruption.
Mesrobian also shared that the company’s development centre in Bengaluru plays a central role in all the rollout of its technology.
“One of the things I am trying to bring in is agile product development. We are blowing up the classic waterfall model where the business centre asks for something and then the tech team designs it and then the development team works on it. Agile product development means getting the mindset of being a pure play technology provider. We are doing this in our online segment. For instance, we are using robotic to create a rich experience for customer in-store. Another example is we want to change the way the customer experience at the cash counters,” he added.
“One of the first things I did when I took the role was to change the name of our captive unit—which was Tesco Hindustan service centre to Tesco Bengaluru. Our India centre is central to our strategy, it is not a low cost centre for us,” he added.
As far as it comes to working with third part technology providers, Mesrobian shared that Tesco will continue to work with them. “Majority of our technology work happens in-house and that’s how it will be. We do work with third party players as well. If you want to be in areas of logistics and supply chain you cannot give it to third-party as its core for you. But areas that are not key can be given to third party players,” said Mesrobian.