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Issue of May 2006 

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Business Intelligence

Closer to customers with BI

Shopper’s Stop wanted to understand its customers’ needs, provide better products, reduce costs and increase revenues. BI helped it achieve these goals


Shopper’s Stop had a clear business objective. It wanted the customer to have a personalised shopping experience, and it wanted tailor-made promotions and schemes unique to the buying patterns of specific customers.

“For this we needed to understand how, when, where and in what combination the customer buys merchandise,” recalls Unnikrishnan TM, Customer Care Associate and CTO, Solutions and Technology, Shopper’s Stop. It was also necessary to improve the decision-making skills of the organisation, manage costs, increase revenue and provide better products to the customers.

The company decided to use a BI solution from Business Objects as well as the SAS analytical application. It uses the Business Objects solution for reporting and some advanced analysis.

“We use a combination of Business Objects and the SAS solution for trend analysis, promotion management, and customer behaviour, segmentation, buying basket, profitability and lifecycle analysis,” reveals Unnikrishnan.

Cleansing the Data

“We use qualitative and quantitative evaluation criteria. Every solution is graded on the criteria, and vendors are expected to demonstrate their products’ capabilities on all the criteria,” says Unnikrishnan.

As BI analytics depend critically on data integrity and reliable data resources, Shopper’s Stop has models for collecting, updating, changing and deleting data through the business processes.

“The data which is transferred from online transaction processing systems (OLTP) has to be cleansed. As and when required, transformation is carried out and then this data is loaded onto the data warehouse. But first, a data mapping exercise that maps company-specific data to a retail industry standard data model should be completed. In some cases, a company may build its own proprietary data model. The choice may vary based on various factors,” elaborates Unnikrishnan.

“Our current BI applications are fairly compatible with the existing ERP, SCM and CRM applications. Even if compatibility issues arise, enough Enterprise Application Integration (EAI) tools and middleware applications are available to resolve the issue and harvest the data into the data warehouse. ETL tools are also easily available to extract data, and the transformed data can be easily loaded on the data mart or data warehouse,” he adds.

BI solutions are currently implemented to measure revenue parameters, customer enrollments, profitability of a customer base or segment, and total revenue earned through the lifecycle of a customer.

BI implementations in some areas have paid rich dividends. Shopper’s Stop has used various predictive methods and models to find out which of its customers are likely to buy again and how much. This has helped create a focussed campaign and incentives for its high-value customer base. The recent diamond mine festival was a hit with high-value customers, as was its iPod giveaway scheme.

In A Nutshell
  • The organisation: Shopper's Stop has operations in Bangalore, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Delhi, Chennai, Mumbai, Pune, Gurgaon and Kolkata. The company has over 6,00,000 square feet of retail space nationwide, and stocks over 250 brands of garments and accessories.
  • The need: Make shopping a delight by understanding the customer's needs, provide better products, reduce operational costs and boost revenues.
  • The solution: BI solutions from Business Objects and SAS.
  • The benefits: BI helps the company craft focussed campaigns and offer incentives to high-value customers. It has helped to study target market demographics and then position appropriate merchandise in the stores.
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Indian Express - Business Publications Division

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