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SAP Big-Data-Solution Drives Performance at Walmart
By Aditi Bhat
Walmart is the largest retailer in the world. It is one of the best shopping destinations for millions of people across all continents. Nearly 260 million people visit 20,000 Walmart stores and associated e-commerce websites each week. With $482 billion as the revenue for 2016 and 2.3 million employees, operations and business at Walmart are big, really big. Hence, with the scale of operations this large, Walmart simply could not ignore the value that Data Analytics would bring to their business. With the massive amounts of data-points and customer-data available, it would be foolish not to tap into the true potential of this data to improve business and ROI.
Among the various challenges already faced by Walmart, Hurricane Sandy, back in 2004, posed some fresh challenges:
- Studying the data as a whole rather than studying it as isolated individual sets
- Understanding why the sales of certain products were unexpectedly declining. Further, figuring out the solutions to solve this problem
- Monitoring the real-time sales across different stores in various geographies
Walmart came up with the concept of Data-Café – A platform with broader range of capabilities than the existing data warehouse. SAP HANA (an Oracle-based database)was employed to power theData-Café. With the help of this arrangement, the data could now be analysed immediately. On an hourly basis, new data files from Walmart’s database were loaded into the fact-tables in SAP HANA.
Further, it was possible to insert this data at an astounding rate of 3 million rows per minute. This type of data-feeding could easily handle the volumes of the customer-data even on the busiest days of shopping such as Black Fridays. Speedy analysis of such huge data enabled Walmart employees to respond in real-time to the challenges as and when they arose. Hence, based on the insights that resulted from this data-analysis, Walmart could now adjust pricing for their stores on the West Coast based on the performance of their East Coast stores.
- Now the business users can analyse the success-driving factors thriving in Walmart stores in real-time.
- The work-pressure on Walmart’s IT group has reduced considerably as Data-Café is an easy mode for self-service for the users.
- Merchandisers are now able to able to manage their businessesproactively with the real-time access to relevant data.
- Data-driven innovation is now possible as the actionable data is available to a larger group of employees. Hence, Data-Café is a clear winner in this scenario.
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