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CASE STUDY - Bear Creek’s Data Quality Initiative Has the Company Coming Up Roses

Commentary by Ellen Smith, Senior Manager, Data Warehouse Systems, and Mark Madsen, Manager, Decision Support, Bear Creek Corporation

casestudy Bear Creek

Bear Creek Corporation, a leading direct marketing and e-commerce company and umbrella organization to world-renowned brands Jackson & Perkins and Harry and David, used to build homegrown computer applications much like the company grows its own pears, makes its own cheesecakes, and nurtures its own roses.

The result was a wide variety of homegrown legacy systems used for order entry, finance, distribution, and marketing, which made enterprise data integration for the development of data warehouses for financial reporting, customer relationship management (CRM), and business intelligence (BI) applications a very difficult task.

Approximately seven years ago, Bear Creek began the transition toward buying packaged systems where possible. Part of that information technology (IT) initiative included purchasing data quality software from Firstlogic to aid in the standardizing, cleansing, matching, and consolidation of Bear Creek’s millions of customer records. Measuring the quality of the data—incorrect data, incomplete data, inconsistent data—in all cases, Firstlogic’s data quality software is used by Bear Creek to deal with the problem.

“We clearly recognize the benefits of having a clear, single view of our customer base that Firstlogic helps us achieve,” said Ellen Smith, Bear Creek senior manager, data warehouse systems.

Terabyte Data Warehouses

Bear Creek’s nearly one-terabyte corporate data warehouse is an IBM RS6000 Unix system running UDB. MicroStrategy is used for reporting, and Business Objects Data Integrator is used for moving data from the source system to the data warehouse. Bear Creek’s marketing data warehouse, also almost a terabyte in size, uses both MicroStrategy and SAS as reporting tools. SAS is also utilized for the extraction, transformation, and loading (ETL) of data.

Millions of customer records are contained in the marketing data warehouse: customers that have come to Bear Creek through a diverse set of sales channels, including catalog sales, a 120-store retail division, and the Web.

“Everybody wants information—not data—now, and that speed-up provides the opportunity for bad data to spread much faster,” said Mark Madsen, Bear Creek manager, decision support. “We are not only providing data quickly, but good, clean, actionable information that helps the company with its marketing and customer service initiatives.”

We clearly recognize the benefits of having a clear, single view of our customer base that Firstlogic helps us achieve.
—Ellen Smith, Senior Manager, Data Warehouse Systems, Bear Creek Corporation

Both data warehouses are refreshed nightly. Data cleansing using Firstlogic’s Information Quality Suite is done as part of the ETL process for both data warehouses. “Incorporating data quality as part of the ETL process is a big step in cleansing the data as far upstream as possible,” Smith said.

According to Smith, the marketing data warehouse is designed to be much more at the customer level. “That is where we really exercise the capabilities of the Firstlogic data quality software. We can truly slice and dice our customer data made to order,” Smith said, adding that Bear Creek’s senior executives request reports “prepared every way imaginable.”


Bear Creek is also using Firstlogic’s software to perform householding on the millions of customer records in the marketing data warehouse. “We have a 23 percent collapse of individuals into households when we perform householding on our entire marketing database,” Smith said. “It provides our marketing team some unique insights into our customer buying patterns.

“We are absolutely sold on the benefits that our data quality initiative has brought to Bear Creek,” Smith continued. “The capabilities are powerful and the results very compelling. We have eliminated sending duplicate catalogs, save mailing costs and marketing resources, conducted more targeted and successful marketing campaigns, and most important, we reduce customer bother and improve customer service.

“We’re not just about our famous pears and plants,” added Madsen. “It is good data that is helping drive the success of the company as well.”

This article originally appeared in the issue of .

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