Nailing Down Successful Business Performance

Ace Harware selects data integration software to improve product assortment, optimize pricing and build customer loyalty

Redwood City, CA September 10, 2003 Home improvement retailer Ace Hardware Corp., which operates 15 distribution centers in the United States and has retail sales that exceed $13 billion, has improved both corporate and individual retailer performance through its implementation of Informatica PowerCenter and Informatica PowerConnect for IBM MQSeries, according to software provider Informatica Corp.

As the data integration backbone for Ace's enterprise data warehouse, Informatica PowerCenter and PowerConnect helped Ace to improve product-pricing strategies, lower inventory costs, optimize product assortment, take full advantage of product promotions and increase customer loyalty, the provider claimed.

With more than 4,900 independently owned stores that sell 65,000 different products in 50 states and 72 countries, Oak Brook, Ill.-based Ace said it previously found it challenging to gain an integrated, up-to-the-minute view of its entire retail operation.

With the company's point-of-sale (POS) and inventory data locked in disparate systems across various geographic regions, Ace could not quickly and accurately react to customer needs. Furthermore, from an IT perspective, creating simple, standardized reports required a labor-intensive, time-consuming integration process.

To further solidify its leadership in the convenience hardware marketplace, Ace said it found the need to accelerate its inventory management decisions increasingly critical.

"Ace Hardware has distinguished itself from the 'big box' retailers as a customer-centric, neighborhood retailer. To continue our tradition, it was essential that we have an accurate view of our business data across the board," said Mark Cothron, data warehouse architect at Ace Hardware Corp. "Informatica offered the most efficient platform to manage the data flow into and out of our analytic infrastructure. The provider's data integration strengths allowed us to gain a comprehensive view of all our data from sales to inventory ultimately impacting how we make decisions at both a wholesale and retail level."

Ace said that, with Informatica in its enterprise data warehouse, it has integrated billions of POS rows and hundreds of millions of rows of store replenishment data, creating a comprehensive view of its business. Armed with this information, Ace said it could more effectively guide its 4,900 independent hardware, home center, lumber and building materials retail stores to optimize pricing, improve product assortment and maximize product promotion.

PowerCenter is also enabling Ace to develop and implement both regional and national marketing campaigns, according to Informatica. With the ability to view POS data from previous product sales and campaigns, Ace can now determine which customers will respond best to future campaigns and promotions. Similarly, Ace can analyze customers' buying habits through historical data analysis and trend detection, allowing the company to further leverage its customer-loyalty program, Helpful Hardware Club.

Additionally, Ace said it relies on PowerCenter to support its e-commerce site as the integration vehicle for retrieving the Web site's order, payment and return data, and updating its pricing and store data. By also incorporating PowerCenter into its new "EagleVision" corporate inventory management system, Ace said it could centrally manage its accounts payable, accounts receivables and reorder data.

Over the next few years, Ace said PowerCenter and EagleVision would be used to manage all inventory status and pricing changes and load POS data from stores in a near real-time environment.

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