TD Tawandang, (TD), a retail technology company in Thailand which caters to mom and pop shops, has tied up with Google Cloud to provide a retail-as-a-service platform to its customers.
TD’s executive director, Tientham Setthasit, said the company provides the mom and pop shops, which are known as shohuays, a profit-sharing partnership model which includes access to its unified TD retail platform which has been built on Google Cloud’s “secure and scalable” infrastructure.
“This includes advanced analytics, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning (ML) technologies”, Setthasit said.
Apart from the retail platform, TD offers the shohuays a profit-sharing partnership model that includes a visual makeover and each refurbished store features a “Tookdee” logo alongside its original name, he added.
Setthasit said that with fast-expanding convenience store chains coming up in Thailand, traditional shohuays have been overshadowed.
TD’s partnership with Google Cloud could help these shops with more streamlined backend services.
He said through the platform, which includes a smart point of sale (POS) application connected to a full retail distribution network, “TD automates stock replenishments and financial accounting on the store’s behalf”.
“Instead of closing their stores to visit wholesalers and manually recording sales transactions, store owners can focus on other tasks like receiving goods, printing out price tags and promotional messages from the smart POS, restocking shelves, and building relationships with their customers,” Setthasit said.
TD’s chief technology officer, Ruud Akarapanitsakul, added that one of the critical challenges faced by shohuays is “limited product visibility and difficulty matching demand and supply”.
“Their profit margins are then eroded by perishables expiring before they can be sold or customers’ needs being unmet when desired items are not replenished quickly enough,” he said.
Akarapanitsakul said Google Cloud’s Dataplex solution, which is part of its offering, helps by facilitating data flows between POS applications and a centralised, cloud-based enterprise resource planning (ERP) system.
“TD and store owners can track products sold and gain real-time visibility over their earnings and available inventory,” he said.
Akarapanitsakul added that TD uses Google Cloud’s predictive modelling, business intelligence and data visualisation, among other features, to help its retail distribution teams forecast demand and schedule deliveries for just-in-time stock replenishments at these shops.
He added that through handheld devices provided by TD, store owners receive delivery information beforehand and push notifications once these replenishments arrive.
While the frontend provided to the micro retailers is “easy to use”, it “is underpinned by numerous processes at the backend” that generate terabytes of data, Akarapanitsakul said.
“The Google Kubernetes Engine and Anthos Service Mesh make it easy for our staff to securely pull large datasets for analysis and our software developers to continuously release new features – without causing downtime and this robust architecture enables all aspects of the TD Retail Platform to run in tandem and scale-up without issues, even if we were to support 30,000 stores and connect to many more devices,” Akarapanitsakul said.
Setthasit said that with a “robust architecture firmly in place”, TD has “through new self-service kiosks" transformed the shohuays into “virtual hypermarts”.
“Consumers can now access TD’s wider catalogue of fast-moving consumer goods and pre-order items that are not a part of the in-store inventory, before paying upfront and returning to collect these items once they are delivered to the store,” Setthasit said.
To notify customers when their orders arrive, TD “is rolling out a mini app on the LINE messaging app”, he added.
“To help micro retailers better engage with and retain customers, the mini-app also provides consumers with a Tookdee membership account, an earn-and-burn rewards program, and personalised product recommendations and promotions,” Setthasit said.
“By integrating data from the mini-app onto our platform, granular insights into consumers’ purchasing behaviour in each province can be derived to provide initial assortment recommendations and boost sales quicker when a store joins our network, pinpoint new items that each store should carry regularly, promote local brands’ signature snacks, incentivise suppliers to run discounts due to economies of scale, and inform decisions to establish new distribution centres,” added Akarapanitsakul.
As part of its next phase of collaboration with Google Cloud, TD is exploring data collection from sensors that measure air temperature and humidity outside each store or track movements to different areas of the shop floor he said.
“This could help the TD Retail Platform respond to weather patterns and consumers’ seasonal needs, while product displays and store layouts can be optimised to attract customer attention and expose them to more merchandise,” Akarapanitsakul said.