EXASOL’s high-performance analytic database is the key for Zalando to optimise stock availability

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Zalando, a rising star in the world of e-commerce, is using EXASOL’s analytic database to optimise stock availability.

Back in 2008, the sale of footwear and clothing across the web was hard to imagine. Since then Zalando has managed to provide online access to fashion wear for more than 14m customers across Europe.

The online retailer, who recently went public, now offers customers the chance to purchase more than 150,000 products from around 1,500 brands in 15 European countries with ease – from a PC, tablet or smartphone – anywhere and at any time.

As part of its continuing success, a subsequent increase in orders and the various fashion lines available, means that ever more data is being generated at Zalando and at a much more rapid rate. In order to streamline transactions with customers, merchants and logistic companies, Zalando needed standardised processes and consistent data on products, inventories, orders, customers and deliveries. To achieve this, EXASOL’, in-memory analytic database was implemented as a fundamental part of Zalando’s data warehouse system to support the order process and ensure that its customers benefit from optimal availability of products and apparel.

With roughly 322mn people visiting Zalando’s web shops in the third quarter of 2014 alone, the German shoe and fashion retailer, which has achieved fast success in the UK and the rest of Europe, has perhaps had more experience than any other online mail-order company when it comes to managing and working with large data volumes.

Eric von Czapiewski, Zalando’s head of business intelligence, said:  “As a fast-growing business, it has been quite a challenge to manage the increase in data volumes in an effective way”.”

Back in 2010, Von Czapiewski was already looking for a scalable analytic database that was able to cope with the expected growth of data quickly and reliably. He explains the problems that arose when running analytics projects in different parts of the business, at the time. “We looked for a database that could be integrated into our data warehouse as an analytic layer that could sit on top. It was important that the solution offered a good price/performance ratio and did not have a lot of administration overheads. With EXASOL, we found a solution that met those needs,” Von Czapiewski said.

EXASOL – an accelerator for comprehensive reporting and analytics

The new system consists of several clusters with 7TBs of memory. Not only did Zalando look at the solution’s scalability features when deciding to implement the in-memory database, but it also had to fit in to its architecture and connect seamlessly to existing front-end BI tools that Zalando was using.

“By implementing EXASOL, Zalando now benefits from a higher degree of flexibility. EXASOL offers a clear performance advantage, also. The company not only benefits from short analysis run-times, but also from the freeing-up of resources in various departments such as purchasing, auditing or logistics,” said Von Czapiewski.

Designing effective repeat order processes for e-commerce

Unlike bricks and mortar shops, e-commerce stores do not have any open and closed times. As a result, sales and stock availability is analyzed while the business is running 24/7. Information on product availability has to be retrievable in real-time, so that items that are running low can be reordered at any time. It is here that EXASOL helps the online retailer to make the repeat order process as efficient as possible. Furthermore, the solution supports the company’s CRM. Von Czapiewski adds: “By using EXASOL, our customers now receive exclusive and personalized emails that include specific offers on articles that they are really interested in.”

Zalando is now well equipped for the future of online shopping. Continuous process flows streamline all transactions and render them efficient, and by running online analytics, Zalando can react faster to customer behaviour and adapt the range of products as well as marketing activities, accordingly. The online retailer can control revenue flows better and unearth new sources of revenue quickly. In short, Zalando can now look to further growth in data volumes with greater confidence.