RESEARCH & RESOURCES

CASE STUDY - Business Intelligence Solutions Make Overstock.com a Smarter Company

Commentary by Jack Garzella, Vice President of IT Operations, Data Warehousing, Reporting, & Analytics, Overstock.com, Inc.

The Challenge

Founded in 1999 as online shopping wasskyrocketing, Overstock.com, Inc., is anonline outlet retailer offering discount,brand-name products to consumers acrossthe U.S. The company realized that theInternet couldn’t compete effectively withnormal retail sales channels, but wastailor-made for product liquidation. Sincethen, Overstock.com has quickly becomethe online leader in a market valued at$60 billion.

Keeping track of inventory and saleson more than 650,000 products locatedin several warehouses—both internaland from partner factories—across theU.S. was a challenging task for the growingcompany.

With all the data being generated,Overstock.com knew they needed a newdata warehouse system. They workedwith Teradata to implement their datawarehousing platform and then lookedfor a reporting tool that would serve asthe front end, allowing business usersto more easily view product inventory,decide which items to delete or expand tobetter manage inventory carrying costs,and much more.

“Our previous reporting system basicallybroke down because it could notkeep up with the growth of the company.We had to turn it off to keep up with Website volume,” says Jack Garzella, who runsOverstock.com’s IT operations and datawarehousing. “And we had stale information,which wasn’t very useful in makingsound business decisions.”

Overstock.com’s reports were writtenin custom code against the operationalsystems and proved to be too difficult forthe company to maintain. The companyneeded real-time information in an easy-to-read, understandable format.

The Approach
Overstock.com

Industry: Retail

Business Pain

With the fast growth of the company, Overstock.com’s old reporting system couldn’t keep up. After implementing a new data warehouse system from Teradata, the company decided to find a new reporting tool that could provide real-time sales and marketing data in easy-to-read reports to functional role end users.

Why Business Objects?

With BI from Business Objects, Overstock.com now has real-time access to critical sales, inventory, or marketing information. Every business person in the company has access to view these reports—enabling Overstock.com’s staff to make better-informed decisions.

Business Objects Products and Services

  • BusinessObjects Enterprise
  • Crystal Reports
  • Web Intelligence
  • Data Integrator
  • Rapid Marts

Overstock.com chose to standardize on abusiness intelligence (BI) platform from Business Objects because it easily andseamlessly integrated with their Teradatadata warehouse. In addition, the companywas already using Crystal Reports® fromBusiness Objects throughout the organization.

Overstock.com’s BI platform ismade up of BusinessObjects™ Enterprise,BusinessObjects Web Intelligence™,Crystal Reports, Data Integrator, andBusinessObjects Rapid Marts™ (includingthe Accounts Receivable Rapid Mart,Accounts Payable Rapid Mart, GeneralLedger Rapid Mart, Purchasing RapidMart, and Sales Rapid Mart).

Currently, Overstock.com is usingData Integrator and Rapid Marts to pullfinancial information from its Oraclesystem and integrate it into the Teradatadatabase. According to Garzella, about120 to 130 tables—or a few millionrecords—are transferred each nightusing Data Integrator.

Further, Overstock.com deployedBusinessObjects Enterprise to more than200 business users across the company inmarketing, merchandising, and the executivestaff. “Basically any business personin the company can access the reportingportal and view reports,” says Garzella.

The Results

Overstock.com is now better equippedto make critical business decisions. Inaddition to the Data Integrator and BusinessObjectsEnterprise implementations,the company has also created dashboardswith Web Intelligence that give employeesan at-a-glance view of important companydata such as daily sales history, itemstatus, warehouse inventory, and more.The dashboards track revenue, gross margins,advertising expenses, how manyconsumers visited the site, and how manyproducts were sold each day. Employeescan also drill down into the informationfor more insight. “We can now give ouremployees real-time sales and shipping data all the way down to the SKU level,”adds Garzella. “Overall, our BI solution ismaking us a much smarter company.

“The biggest benefit so far is the abilityto see cause and effect. When we changea marketing campaign or a price, we areable to see the effect on sales or the effecton customer service and immediately takeaction,” concludes Garzella.

Overstock.com is planning to implement new dashboards from BusinessObjects Performance Manager to help them monitor key performance indicatorsand provide more ad hoc capabilities for business users.

This article originally appeared in the issue of .

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