National department store chain Stein Mart, Inc. announced the selection of Microsoft SQL Server 2008 as the centerpiece of its new Mission Critical platform and subsequent business intelligence solution. As a result, company executives can use responsive forecasting tools, which have enabled them to quickly identify business trends within the company’s 265 stores and to position the company for expansion.
By implementing the Microsoft solution, Stein Mart was able to consolidate its AS/400 data warehouse into one commodity-based hardware server, which contributes to a monthly savings of $50,000 in hardware leasing and maintenance costs. “We will be able to eliminate 95% of the monthly costs related to the previous system,” said Ilan Wajsman, Director of IT for Stein Mart, in a press release.
Also, Stein Mart IT employees will no longer need to spend their time managing the AS/400 servers. “Maintaining that system required multiple employees with diverse skill sets, “noted Wajsman. “We need fewer people to operate the new system. The time savings helps us focus on business and customer challenges, rather than technical ones.”
Business intelligence is helping fuel retail growth across the board. The average organization sees a 41% year-over-year increase in data volume and struggles to control an average of 15 unique data sources, according to the December 2010 Aberdeen Research December 2010 benchmark report, Data Management for BI: Fueling the Analytical Engine with High-Octane Information.
“We had significant latency issues with our previous business intelligence solution,” said Wajsman. “Having immediate access to sales figures, fluctuations in inventory and other data is critical for executive planning sessions. Not having that data would hinder the executives’ ability to make the decisions that drive Stein Mart’s growth.”
Founded in Jacksonville, Florida, in 1902, Stein Mart is a department store chain with 268 stores in the United States. The stores specialize in brand-name clothing, accessories, shoes, and home decor at prices promoted as 60% lower than competitors.
Previously for Stein Mart, data processing frequently took more than 14 hours, but with its move to SQL Server 2008 Enterprise, SQL Server 2008 R2 Reporting Services and SQL Server Fast Track Data Warehouse, Stein Mart can now produce sales reports in as few as three hours. Stein Mart’s data warehouse is now approximately four terabytes, compressed. The company’s previous, uncompressed data warehouse system was approximately 12 terabytes.
With its new solution, Stein Mart has the ability to pull transactional data and analyze its business from end to end. Using SQL Server 2008 Reporting Services, for example, the company can perform in-depth business analysis of its transactional database. “With SQL Server 2008 and SQL Server Fast Track Data Warehouse, we can look at our entire transaction history and do market analysis and business forecasting, which we could not do previously,” Wajsman said. “Now, for example, we will be able to study the correlation between promotions and sales.”
These capabilities make it possible for Stein Mart to use data to demonstrate business success. “This technology gives us the ability to be more fact-based as a company,” Wajsman said. “We can make business decisions based on demonstrated sales history.”