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05/15/2023

How Estée Lauder and Best Buy Use Analytics to Solve for Tomorrow’s Disruption

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Pradipta Saha, executive director of digital supply chain at Estée Lauder
Pradipta Saha, executive director of digital supply chain at Estée Lauder, talks supply chains of the future.

What are today’s consumer goods and retail executives most excited about regarding supply chain changes they’ve seen across both industries in the last few years?

Elena Alikhachkina, digital and data analytics executive at CDO, and moderator, posed the question at this year’s Analytics Unite event. 

“Supply chain became the ‘cool kid’ in the last three years, but there’s a lot to live up to because nowadays supply chain is both a dinner table and a boardroom conversation,” according to Ashok Viswanathan, director of supply chain analytics at Best Buy. “But I’m excited about supply chains using analytics to transform themselves for the future.”

Viswanathan believes that using scale, speed, and flexibility as criteria, supply chains have evolved from being cost centers to sources of competitive advantage for organizations. Thanks to COVID, he said, the supply chain is a key ingredient in global commerce. 

Pradipta Saha, executive director of digital supply chain at Estée Lauder, is of the same mindset. 

Saha and Viswanathan both agree that a major supply chain change comes from organizations looking to enhance and evolve their strategy and investing in a more holistic manner so that long-term capital investments create the supply chains of the future. 

But that’s only a recent iteration and not how a lot of supply chains got built in the last five years, according to Viswanathan. “The supply chain now has a more important role to play in measuring and providing solutions for all these organizational decisions.” 

Saha emphasizes that it’s not that supply chain teams have changed, so much as priorities are now more geared toward resilience, supply visibility, and, at the core, getting away from functional silos to see everything from the lens of the consumer. It’s about asking, “What is the end-to-end impact of everything you do?” 


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His suggestion? Organizations should be looking at 18-month to three-year horizons in order to recognize signals early enough in the decisioning processes to make the right choices — not just for the supply chain but cross-functional relationships throughout the business. 

“You want to use all the resources you have at-hand to anticipate the future and ask ‘What are the things that could happen, or that we suspect might happen, and how do we best prepare for it?’” Viswanathan poses. 

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Ashok Viswanathan, director of supply chain analytics at Best Buy
Ashok Viswanathan, Director, Supply Chain Analytics, Best Buy

He likens the process to financial planning. “You don’t know what’s going to happen, but you  have your portfolio, you have your outlook and your risk-tolerance, and then you design your investment and continue to fine tune it or intervene as you go forward.” 

The continued evolution of omnichannel remains a recurring theme. While e-commerce growth has remained relatively stagnant since the pandemic, the omnichannel experience has undergone a significant change. 

“We’re thinking a lot about speed at Best Buy when it comes to omnichannel, not in terms of transit times or delivery days, but defining speed in other aspects that is good for Best Buy and good for the customer,” according to Viswanathan. “Do we have to be the fastest? Is that what the customer really wants? We don’t have the answers yet, but we have a lot of resources.”  

Long term, enterprises are looking to expand their influence, shifting from a narrow focus on growing e-commerce to providing that seamless, unified omnichannel brand experience, regardless of which channel customers use. 

“It should not matter,” Saha stresses, “however the customer wants to experience your product and have it delivered to them, it’s about providing them with choice. The ability to go digital is a top element of our mission.” 

Stay tuned for more coverage from Analytics Unite.

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