A tailor-made solution - Teradata Magazine Online

Left to right: Joe Sperlunto, director of
applications; John Sirimis, director of IT
infrastructure; Tom Kooser, vice president
of Infrastructure Services; and Denis Gingue,
chief information officer and senior vice
president, all of Charming Shoppes, Inc.
A tailor-made solution
Charming Shoppes sticks with its long-term strategy even through tough times.
nderstanding the value of technology has been a foundation for
Charming Shoppes, Inc. Throughout its history, the clothing retailer
has focused on this value with substantial investments in its data warehouse,
including new applications and upgrades. Even in times of economic turmoil with budgets at their leanest, the company’s leadership understands the
PAGE 1 | Teradata Magazine | December 2009 | ©2009 Teradata Corporation | AR-6021
Photography by Michael Pilla
by Jackie Zack
importance of a cutting-edge data platform and its value to the business. Thus,
continued investment in business intelligence (BI) to efficiently run the company
is never compromised.
“The growth of the data platform has
been through the collection of more data
over the years and, for our most recent
upgrade, through some incredibly great
pricing offers from Teradata. We have a
strong philosophy in keeping fresh in our
technology on all platforms, but especially
the one that we obviously hold a lot of
data in,” says John Sirimis, the company’s
director of IT infrastructure.
The initial vision
harming Shoppes was operating
women’s specialty apparel stores
under the name Fashion Bug when it
first met up with Teradata in 1996. At
a time when many established retailers
were being forced out of the business, the
organization sought a solution to provide
more insight to support merchandising
and customer activity as part of its survival strategy.
Company leaders sought a premier
data warehousing vendor even though
only very large retail chains were doing
so at that time. In fact, very few midmarket retailers were even considering
data warehousing.
The initial implementation focused
on integrating data into one repository to enable sales and inventory
analysis for merchandising. A year later,
Charming Shoppes’ data
warehouse was credited
with supporting a financial
turnaround in 1997
when the business came
from reporting losses to
achieving a net income of
$19.3 million.
customer data was added to engage
the marketing department and better
understand customers and sales trends.
Formerly an organization of disparate
vertical systems in which queries could
take weeks, Charming Shoppes was soon
Executive summary
getting answers to queries in seconds.
More importantly, the data warehouse
was credited with supporting a financial
turnaround in 1997 when the business
came from reporting losses to achieving
a net income of $19.3 million.
Expanded capabilities
egardless of the economic environment, the company consistently
follows a regimented approach to IT
budgeting and project prioritization. A
cost-benefit analysis is performed at the
beginning of each annual planning cycle
to prepare for proposed IT investments.
The company has implemented numerous upgrades to its data platform over the
years to support growth of additional data
requests and e-commerce requirements
resulting from acquisitions. (See table,
page 3.)
Starting with the acquisition of
Catherines Plus Sizes in 2000, the company’s rapid expansion continued when it
acquired Lane Bryant in 2001. Naturally,
additional users, applications and a greater
workload followed. Charming Shoppes
needed to transition each chain to a unified data platform and BI capabilities.
applications and workload, as well as implement state-of-the-art
customer relationship management. However, with the 2008 economic downturn, an upgrade seemed financially impossible.
The solution: Teradata developed a “refresh deal” that provided
the latest technology while enhancing the retailer’s short-term
cash flow. Maintenance and subscriptions were packaged into the
The company: Based in Bensalem, Pa., Charming Shoppes, Inc. is
deal so the business would not realize separate operating expenses
a leading specialty fashion retailer, operating more than 2,200
until 2010.
stores under the names Lane Bryant, Fashion Bug, Catherines Plus
The results: Charming Shoppes got additional processing power
Sizes brands, Lane Bryant Outlet and Petite Sophisticate Outlet. Its
and capacity, dramatically reduced runtimes and doubled perfor-
annual revenues in fiscal 2009 were $2.5 billion.
mance in key areas. Plans to further leverage Charming Shoppes’
The challenge: After a series of rapid acquisitions, Charming
data warehouse are on track with an emphasis on merchandising
Shoppes had plans to continue growth and was seeking to upgrade
to better understand the value of each customer relationship, focus
and expand its data warehouse to accommodate additional users,
more on the consumer, and drive sales and earnings.
PAGE 2 | Teradata Magazine | December 2009 | ©2009 Teradata Corporation | AR-6021
Through a series of upgrades, the company accommodated its growth, smoothed
transitions during times of expansion, and
enabled efforts to develop a single view of
its customers.
In order to enable new brands with
BI tools and access to customer data, the
data warehouse also had to grow. After
acquiring Lane Bryant, Charming Shoppes
implemented an upgrade that nearly
company’s operating expenses through
the remainder of 2008 and 2009. The
initial period of maintenance and subscriptions were included in the deal so the
business would not realize any incremental operating expenses until 2010. Such
an arrangement would not only bring
immediate business value, it would also
increase potential opportunities to support future efforts.
success. The upgrade was seamless,
it was uneventful, it was very wellreceived, and we are seeing tremendous
results. We dramatically decreased
runtimes, and performance more than
doubled in almost every area.”
As it has in the past, the company
saw the value in upgrading to remain
competitive amid economic turmoil.
“Teradata came to the table in the worst
of economic conditions, and they have
continued to step up in difficult economic times to help us manage costs
while continuing to evolve the business,”
says Kooser.
“We are seeing tremendous results. We
dramatically decreased runtimes, and
performance more than doubled in almost
every area.” –John Sirimis, Charming Shoppes
doubled the customer service information
capacity and dramatically increased the
user base for financial, merchandising and
customer data.
Tom Kooser, the company’s vice president of Infrastructure Services, notes that
Teradata’s proficiency made each upgrade
a seamless transition. “There was perfect
planning and execution, which resulted in
zero downtime and essentially a non-event
for the users,” he says.
Latest trends
harming Shoppes now utilizes its
data warehouse to support merchandising systems with MicroStrategy
reporting tools to run thousands of
reports a day. A recent supply chain repository project has enabled the loading of
supply chain data into the enterprise data
warehouse (EDW) for a more complete
view of inventory.
Tracking inventory, sales movement
and reporting of data are key benefits of
the data warehouse, says Denis Gingue,
the company’s chief information officer
Eager to take advantage of the opportunity, in June 2008, Charming Shoppes
upgraded to a 64-bit Linux operating system and the Teradata Database
12 to generate additional processing
power and capacity and enable new
business initiatives. “We were able to
get into Teradata’s latest and greatest
technology, which is a great win for our
company from an expense-reduction
perspective,” Sirimis says. “It was a huge
A ‘refresh’-ing deal
lthough the company had achieved
record earnings in 2007, the
economic crisis in 2008 resulted in
decreased consumer spending and a
bleak outlook for the retail industry.
Facing a need to reduce costs, a data
warehouse upgrade seemed virtually
impossible. So Charming Shoppes considered extending the current lease or
purchasing the leased equipment.
After assessing the company’s situation, Teradata proposed a “refresh deal”
that offered new equipment along with
a plan to enhance short-term cash flow
by eliminating a large portion of the
Charming Shoppes Inc./Teradata history
4-node 5100M
2-node 5100M
Customer data and other projects
4-node 5200
Catherines Plus Sizes integration
2-node 5251, 4-node 5200s
Lane Bryant integration
4-node 5255
Increased capacity
8-node 5400 with HSNs
Crosstown Traders integration
3-node 5500H
Technology refresh / improve cash flow
PAGE 3 | Teradata Magazine | December 2009 | ©2009 Teradata Corporation | AR-6021
Original enterprise data warehouse
and senior vice president. “Teradata
provides tremendous value,” he says. “It
is truly the heartbeat of our data warehouse efforts.”
Green impact
mainframe, and now it is all done on
the EDW. Why? Because it is consistent.
There are no runtime surprises every
two years. Interestingly, no conscious
decision was made to do this. It just
happened over time.”
Fashion forward
With the latest system upgrade,
Charming Shoppes has seen an impressive reduction in power consumption
in its data center. The installation
of new, energy-efficient equipment
saved the company more than $1,000
per month in electrical costs.
With data about more than 60 million
customers integrated into the EDW, the
clothing retailer has continued to focus
efforts on micro-merchandising and
micro-marketing to better understand
customers and distinguish its stores and
merchandise accordingly. Using tools such
as Teradata Warehouse Miner and SAS
business analytics software, Charming
Shoppes has developed a single customer
view across all channels and brands and
has leveraged the data warehouse to
develop direct mail and e-mail campaigns
specific to individual consumers.
he company continues to look for
ways to mine data to better focus
on and sell to its customers. “We never
want to lose a sale,” says Sirimis. “If a
customer wants something from us,
whether it’s through e-commerce or
bricks and mortar, we want to find a way
to get it to them. At the heart of all that
is our EDW.”
Evolving to an active data warehouse is
also an objective in the near future. This
will enable initiatives such as customer
lookup at each store to target valued shoppers based on purchase history.
No passing fad
hrough more than a decade of
upgrades and expansions, Charming
Shoppes has grown and enhanced both
its product lines and its customer service.
By all accounts, the company has an
extraordinary, talented core team of
later, we have a really good relationship.
Yes, Teradata is a world-class organization with a superior platform, but you
also get a sense of trust and respect. From
an infrastructure perspective, I have the
perfect relationship, and from an application perspective, we have a tool that is
always available. In this economy and in
this challenging IT world where you have
to have an edge, that’s the edge. The EDW
is always on.” T
Jackie Zack is a freelance business, marketing and technology writer based in
Brighton, Mich.
Behind the solution
Charming Shoppes, Inc.
Database: Teradata Database 12
Platform: 3-node Teradata Active
Enterprise Data Warehouse production
system and Teradata Data Mart Appliance
test/development system
Users: 800 (100 concurrent)
DBAs: 2
Data model: Physical—3rd Normal Form
Operating system: SUSE Linux
“Teradata provides tremendous value.
It is truly the heartbeat of our data
warehouse efforts.”
–Denis Gingue, Charming Shoppes
Charming Shoppes continues to
realize tremendous value from the
merchandising systems. “The data
warehouse has become the de facto
platform for batch processing,” says
Joe Sperlunto, the retailer’s director
of applications. “Ten years ago, we
did all of our batch processing on the
people. “Coupled with Teradata’s strong
knowledge-sharing emphasis, in part
through user group meetings, the business
has seen real value from the relationship,”
says Sirimis.
“Data is data, but how someone helps
you get to the next level is the important
part,” he says. “Six or seven upgrades
PAGE 4 | Teradata Magazine | December 2009 | ©2009 Teradata Corporation | AR-6021
Storage: 52TB total
Teradata utilities: Teradata Tools &
Utilities 12—FastExport, FastLoad,
MultiLoad, Teradata Dynamic Query
Manager, Teradata Manager and
Teradata TPump; Utility Pack—ODBC
Driver, JDBC Driver, SQL Assistant
(QueryMan), SQL Assistant Web Edition,
OLE DB, MultiTool, Administrator, BETQ
and CLI; Mainframe Channel Connect,
Priority Scheduler and Teradata Meta
Data Services
Tools/applications: Teradata Warehouse
Miner and products from Atanasoft, Fair
Isaac, IBM, Microsoft, MicroStrategy
and SAS