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[New Retail + New Platform] Chapter 11- Soros My Saviour

Feb 19 / Charlotte Liew

In Chapter 11 of New Retail + New Platform, Senheng’s Managing Director KH Lim gives us a personal peek into a turning point in his business - and his life. Ever wondered why Senheng places such strong emphasis on customer service? And what does George Soros have to do with any of it?   The Man who Broke the Bank of England George Soros’ claim to fame was the day he raked in $1 billion dollars within a single day by short-selling the British pound. He then came to be known as “The Man who Broke the Bank of England” and is largely said to play a big role in the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis. For KH Lim however, Soros was his saviour.   A reminder of rock bottom Like many young businessmen who chance upon their first fortune, Lim allowed the success to get over his head. “I gambled, played and was constantly accompanied by alcohol during that period. Looking back, it was really terrible. My colleagues and suppliers did warn me about the issues we had in the company but I did not pay attention – to me the company was making money so I continued to enjoy my life. If not for Soros, I would not have woken up in time, and Senheng as a whole would be gone and bankrupt within three years.” Lim recalled.   The turning point came during one fateful morning in 1997. Out for his usual cup of tea, a newspaper headline which read “Financial Crisis Is Here” reminded him of the 1987 financial crisis which plummeted him to rock bottom.   White rice and curry gravy to share Back then as a college graduate, Lim secured a sales job at an electrical appliance store where he worked for a mere seven months before being promoted to store manager. A few years later when the 1987 financial crisis hit, the store sadly had to close down - leaving Lim jobless during one of the toughest economic downturns of the century.   “That was my first job, and I worked very hard at the time. But there was nothing I could do when the shop was closing down. I was penniless after I lost the job and went back to the rented room hoping my roommate could buy me a meal. But he was penniless too! Both of us had to turn our mattress over and search for dropped coins everywhere. Finally we found seventy cents and bought a pack of white rice with curry gravy to share. That was an unforgettable period.” Lim recalled. But fate had big things in mind for Lim, and he soon found another job at another electrical appliances shop.   WANTED: Problematic employees The bold headline brought Lim back to his past, and made him wonder about his business. How would Senheng fare in the face of a recession? That was enough to jolt Lim to his senses and set him on a path towards tightening his reins on the company.   After discussing with his department heads, Lim found that every department from logistics to procurement to HR were filled with hidden issues. In total, there were 100 problems discovered within the company. The biggest issue which stood out were customer service complaints, with everything from product negligence to poor after-sales delivery being brought up as an issue. Lim came up with a creative (and extremely effective!) way to improve customer service - a “WANTED” poster. The poster encouraged customers to report directly to Lim’s office line if they had an unpleasant experience with any Senheng employee. In return, the customer would receive an RM100 Senheng voucher, cut directly from the said employee’s paycheck!   For Lim, it was Soros and the newspaper headline that saved Senheng. Now, he dedicates an entire chapter in his book New Retail + New Platform to the public, in hopes it may enlighten those who are just as lost as he once was.

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[New Retail + New Platform] Chapter 10- New Platforms

Feb 04 / Charlotte Liew

In the 90s and early 2000s, businesses faced the problem of insufficient solutions. In contrast today, we are facing a very different problem - too many solutions. Softwares, tools, and platforms are abound everywhere we look. For one, they’re either extremely specialised, or promise to serve as an “all-in-one solution”. Which platforms are worth it, and which do businesses really need?   In Chapter 10 of New Retail + New Platform, we explore Senheng’s top 12 management platforms which have been integral in helping Senheng improve its performance.   Senheng’s Top 12 Management System Platforms. Net Promoter Score (NPS) Management Platform Auto-Replenishment Platform Business-to-Business (B2B) Platform E-Product List Platform Product Information Management (PIM) Platform Unified Price Tag Management Portal Platform Service Portal Platform E-Market Price Survey Portal Platform Operation Performance Portal Platform Trade-in Portal Platform Warehouse Management System (WMS) Platform Central Distribution Management (CDM) Platform   Net Promoter Score (NPS) Management Platform The NPS Platform tracks word-of-mouth among Senheng’s customers. Through this system, customers interact with the company via the Senheng app after each purchase. Surveys help Senheng track which purchases are made as a result of recommendations. Thanks to this system, Senheng managed to collect key insights such as: more than 16,000 customers obtained recommendation through word-of-mouth from family and friends additional warranty, attractive promotions and ‘good customer service are the top three reasons for recommendation Most first-time purchasers know about Senheng from word of mouth   Auto-Replenishment Platform Inventory is one area which greatly benefits from using the right platforms. Senheng’s auto-replenishment platform ensures sufficient stock at headquarters and warehouses to fill the daily needs of all branches. This system divides products and models into four groups, namely: Fast Moving - items which contribute 90 percent of sales Slow Moving – items which contribute 10 percent of sales Long Tail – only minimal quantities sold Zero Moving – zero sales in the past ten days   Business-to-Business (B2B) Platform Senheng’s paperless B2B platform simplifies the ordering process between the company and its business partners. To give you a better idea, among the system’s abilities include sending purchase orders to suppliers on a daily basis for delivery according to the orders sent. As a whole, it replaces the inefficient manual system to one that is done paperless, and with seamless tracking mechanisms to eliminate misplacement, loss and damage.   E-Product List Platform E-Product List stands for electronic product listing. This platform allows suppliers to upload new product information and details (product name, model, code etc.) directly to the company’s purchasing team for selection and review before issuing PO. This greatly simplifies the purchasing process - for both Senheng and their suppliers.   Product Information Management (PIM) Platform As a retailer (especially one of Senheng’s scale), managing your products can be tough. Prices change, and promotions are constantly happening. Senheng’s PIM Platform is a centralised and automated system which automatically updates the information onto the e-commerce platforms.   Unified Price Tag Management Portal Platform This system was internally designed to standardise the price tag format across all outlets and products. With so many promotions happening at once, this system ensures that the brand image is standardised both online and offline.   Service Portal Platform At Senheng, after-sales service is just as important as pre-sales. The Service Portal Platform helps monitor customers’ repair orders, making it easier to track, check and follow up on the latest status of product maintenance. Thanks to this, staff are able to take immediate action - and customers leave happier than they were before.   E-Market Price Survey Portal Platform This platform solves one of the most important questions that retailers face day in and day out: Are my products priced correctly compared to the current market rate? The E-Market Price Survey Portal uses artificial intelligence to monitor current product prices across all relevant markets and analyses the latest price trends. Any poorly priced products can then be quickly identified and sent for immediate repricing.   Operation Performance Portal Platform This platform will be of particular interest to regional managers. After all, it’s designed with them in mind. The Operation Performance Portal Platform served as a performance evaluation system that allows regional managers to monitor the performance of each branch. Likewise, regional performance can also be monitored by the headquarters via this platform. With the data gleaned from this system, the business is able to determine changes and new directions based on the results provided to ultimately improve operational efficiency.   Trade-in Portal Platform Unlike many retailers, Senheng provides a trade-in service where customers can bring in their old devices that are in good condition to be offered as trade-in by Senheng. In general, trade-in services is prone to have problems such as inaccurate quotations, often times due to inaccurate description of product condition. The trade-in portal specifically helps the company reduce overestimation by providing monthly trade-in prices and requesting product images before a price estimation is given to the customers.   Warehouse Management System (WMS) Platform WMS platforms are key to daily operational efficiency. When suppliers enter their delivery order into the B2B system, the system immediately updates the details of the delivery. After receiving the delivery information, the warehouses are able to arrange manpower efficiently and accurately.   Central Distribution Management (CDM) Platform Another key platform within the logistics department is the CDM platform. Since 2018, this platform has helped the company with fast and accurate product deliveries, ensuring all goods are fulfilled automatically and at the most efficient stock level possible. Thanks to the CDM platform, goods are delivered to eleven regional logistics centres across the country within a specific time window, while regional logistics centres are able to arrange for swift delivery to branches. Find out how else Senheng utilises technology to its advantage in Chapter 8, or explore the New Retail side of the story.

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