The continued success of Hanesbrands depended upon delivering the right products to the right retailers in the right quantities at the right times. That was a lot to have to get right, especially with 100,000
SKUs, tens of thousands of stores, and a business intelligence system that aggregated partial, inconsistent retail data, and did so slowly. Hanesbrands solved this problem by adopting a Business Intelligence (BI) solution: a demand signal repository, based
on VMT’s Velocity® Solution Suite running on Microsoft technologies. The time to access reliable, actionable information was shortened from weeks to days. Hanesbrands now makes better, faster decisions across its enterprise by relying on a centralized database.
In just 18 months, Hanesbrands has used the solution successfully as part of its overall efforts to reduce inventory carrying costs and generate additional cash flow.
Some people have trouble keeping track of their own socks—so imagine the challenge that faced Hanesbrands, maker of more socks than any other consumer goods manufacturer in the United States. It needed to track 100,000 SKUs (unique packaged products) of socks,
T-shirts, underwear, hosiery, casualwear, and activewear for men, women, and children as it shipped them to thousands of retail stores and attempted to gain insights on what products sold where and for how much.
||The impact of Velocity® and Microsoft on our business is tremendous. We’re freeing up large amounts of cash, reducing debt and interest on that debt, [and] identifying ways to increase sales.
| Cliff Purcell
Vice President of Forecasting and Sales Logistics, Hanesbrands
Having access to downstream data is important in order to forecast demand, plan manufacturing levels, maintain inventory, ensure that retailers remained fully stocked, and make decisions about pricing, promotions, and other key determinants of sales and inventory
levels. But while Hanesbrands had plenty of data—billions of rows of it in its database—it didn’t have the data or analysis tools it needed for accurate demand sensing and analysis. The data it did have often arrived—and was processed—too late to be useful
to the company.
Accurate forecasting was particularly important to Hanesbrands because the company runs most of its business on a “replenishment” model. This means that retailers don’t make long-term commitments to buy its products; instead, they place orders as the products
sell at retail. They expect Hanesbrands to be properly stocked and to deliver shipments as they’re needed. If Hanesbrands underestimates the volume of each SKU needed by each retail outlet, both Hanesbrands and the retailer lose potential sales. If Hanesbrands
overestimates those volumes, it needlessly ties up money in inventory.
“Having the right product in the right place at the right time is absolutely critical for the profitability and success of our business,” says Howard Upchurch, President of US Innerwear at Hanesbrands. “The best way to make that happen is to take advantage
of real-time POS [point-of-sale] data.”
Hanesbrands, however, didn’t have real-time POS or downstream data. It extracted data from the data systems of its retailers and aggregated the data in static, unconnected spreadsheets, which hampered in-depth analysis. The customers’ source systems often lacked
the level of detail that Hanesbrands required; for example, data on men’s underwear wouldn’t include separate data on tops and bottoms, or not on each of the SKUs (such as bonus packs, which contain one or more additional products at no additional charge)
within a product category.
Some retailers’ systems might not allow Hanesbrands to extract all the data it needed, or to do so conveniently. For example, a system might allow data to be extracted in maximum batches of 13 weeks, while Hanesbrands might require 104 weeks of data for a pricing
study—leaving an analyst at Hanesbrands to conduct the massive data extraction in eight pieces. And retailers often categorized their sales differently, leaving it to Hanesbrands to attempt to aggregate the information consistently. Some retailers might not
have POS data, forcing Hanesbrands to rely on its internal shipment data.
“Often, our best information came from what we were shipping to our retailers,” says Cliff Purcell, Vice President of Forecasting and Sales Logistics at Hanesbrands. “But there’s a big gap between that and what the consumer actually buys.”
Pulling the necessary data from a single retailer might take eight hours of a Hanesbrands staffer’s time, spread over the course of one or more weeks. Getting data from each of eight key retailers generally took a month. Modeling the data for analysis could
take another six weeks—making the data 10 weeks old by the time Hanesbrands could analyze it. By then, it was typically too late to make useful decisions about changes in pricing, production, and promotion.
Hanesbrands executives considered several technology solutions to gain the demand signal business intelligence (BI) system that it lacked. They wanted a solution that would deliver real-time POS and inventory data, from a vendor that could provide guidance
on technology adoption. More than that, they also wanted vendor guidance on what data each retailer could provide and the most effective use of this downstream data. The Hanesbrands executives had a particular interest in the integration of POS and inventory
data with their internal data, such as shipments, forecasts, and costs.
||Often, our best information came from what we were shipping to our retailers. But there’s a big gap between that and what the consumer actually buys.
| Cliff Purcell
Vice President of Forecasting and Sales Logistics, Hanesbrands
Those factors led Hanesbrands to adopt the Velocity® Solution Suite from Vendor Managed Technologies, Inc. (VMT), which aggregates and analyzes downstream data from more than 250 retailers from around the world, integrates that data with a manufacturer’s enterprise
resource planning system, and delivers a full factory-to-shelf view of performance.
“We weren’t just buying VMT’s Velocity® solution; we were also buying its expertise with retail data,” says Misty Braithwaite, Senior Manager of Strategic Planning and Analysis at Hanesbrands. “They knew about data anomalies from specific retailers, and could
tell us how to deal with them to avoid missteps.”
One more essential factor also led Hanesbrands to Velocity®: Microsoft. The solution runs on a range of Microsoft technologies—Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 SP1 data management software, Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010, PerformancePoint Services and Excel Services
in Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010—that Hanesbrands already used.
“We use Microsoft technologies because they give us mission-critical performance at a cost-effective price,” says David Elam, Manager of IT Business Intelligence at Hanesbrands. “We were already spinning cubes off SQL Server data. We knew that Microsoft technologies
could handle our massive loads. And extending our Microsoft infrastructure to support Velocity® was a natural move.”
The combined use of VMT and Microsoft is no accident. "VMT and Microsoft have developed a deep alliance and roadmap to bring a demand sensing solution forward for consumer goods firms that leverages investments on the Microsoft stack end-to-end,” says David
Kane, Consumer Goods Industry Director, Microsoft.
In late 2010, Hanesbrands adopted Velocity® as part of its overall strategy to standardize on the Microsoft Business Intelligence platform. This strategy centered on implementing the Velocity® Demand Signal Repository (DSR), or POS demand data warehouse. The
data warehouse receives and imports raw EDI, proprietary, AS2, spreadsheet, and other data files from Hanesbrands’ largest retailers. The solution extracts the retailer data, then cleanses, normalizes, and feeds it to dashboards that are continuously updated,
so Hanesbrands can capitalize on what business intelligence users universally call “a single version of the truth.” In all, the solution includes 12 billion rows and 2.9 uncompressed terabytes (0.45 TB compressed) of POS data.
Hanesbrands executives, managers, analysts, and others access the Velocity® information in any of several ways: through a client-based Velocity® application, a web interface, and the dashboards. They can use both Velocity® and Microsoft analysis tools to access
reports, create their own reports, import data into self-updating Excel Services spreadsheets and self-updating Microsoft PowerPoint 2010 presentations, and conduct “what if” analyses that look at data from varying perspectives and at increasingly granular
||We use Microsoft technologies because they give us mission-critical performance at a cost-effective price.
| David Elam
Manager of IT Business Intelligence, Hanesbrands
Different types of employees tend to access Velocity® in different ways. The web interface is frequently used by sales personnel and analysts who may work primarily from home offices. Dashboards are an important interface for executives and sales teams. For
example, general managers from Hanesbrands’ businesses receive updated data in their dashboards just before their weekly meetings, and take the data into those meetings to expedite discussions. Power users take advantage of the client-based Report Center to
build their own on-the-fly reports without needing IT support. Since all analysts use Microsoft Excel in their day-to-day analytics, VMT has built a connection so that Velocity® data can be fed into Excel and users can leverage this familiar tool for their
Hanesbrands uses Velocity® data to track sales and inventory by SKU, product category, retailer, region, and store. It also uses the data, and the solution’s analysis tools, to identify when retailers’ stores need additional shipments to replenish stocks, either
through standard replenishment process monitoring or store-specific orders. Hanesbrands also uses the solution to create reports on pricing strategy and demand elasticity, the impact of trade promotions and spending on media, and planogram performance.
Hanesbrands executives anticipate using additional features of the solution, such as the ability to analyze and optimize the performance of specific merchandise displays and planograms in stores. Those analyses, for example, might identify opportunities to
boost sales by shifting the mixture of men’s and women’s clothing, or of adult and children’s clothing, on particular displays.
As Hanesbrands’ use of the solution grows, Kane from Microsoft sees his company’s partnership with VMT growing, too. “VMT and Microsoft are enabling consumer goods firms to leverage their investments in SQL Server, SharePoint Server, and Microsoft Office products
and technologies to deliver an advanced game-changing, demand-sensing, and shaping platform today and tomorrow as their analytical capabilities expand across the extended demand chain,” he says.
Hanesbrands uses Velocity® to quickly obtain fuller and more accurate POS and inventory information; to use that information when formulating promotional, pricing, production, replenishment, and other key strategies; to increase sales by keeping retail shelves
in-stock; and to sharply reduce the carrying cost of inventory.
Reduces Data to Actionable Insights Process from Weeks to Minutes
One of the key concerns that Hanesbrands had with its former business intelligence solution was the length of time needed to pull data—when it was available at all—on various SKUs or product categories at various retailers. With Velocity®, Hanesbrands has reduced
this time from about four weeks to mere minutes. That extraordinary reduction shaves 40 percent or more off the total time required for the broader process of accessing, aggregating, and modeling the data so it can be used in major analyses.
||VMT and Microsoft are enabling consumer goods firms to leverage their investments in SQL Server, SharePoint Server, and Microsoft Office products and technologies to deliver an advanced game-changing demand-sensing and shaping platform
today and tomorrow.
| David Kane
Consumer Goods Industry Director, Microsoft
Hanesbrands not only uses the speed of the new solution to get analyses into the hands of analysts and executives more quickly—it also uses that speed to create analyses that might otherwise never have been created.
“With Velocity® and Microsoft, we’ve created a much more efficient process that drastically reduces the time we spend getting data,” says Diane Philyaw, Senior Manager, Consumer Shopper Insights at Hanesbrands. “Because the process used to consume so much personnel
time, sales and marketing staffs sometimes went without having all the data they’d have liked to have. That doesn’t happen anymore.”
“Single Version of Truth” Leads to Better, Faster Use of Downstream Data
Hanesbrands finds that its retailer data isn’t just faster to collect and analyze; it’s also more accurate and more useful, for several reasons. First, data for analyses spanning several retailers used to be collected by several Hanesbrands sales analysts,
each focusing on a single retailer. The differences that inevitably arose in how they accessed data from each retailer added to the time they needed to cleanse and normalize the data for modeling. Now, data for any given analysis is collected by just one person,
eliminating the discrepancies—and eliminating the time formerly needed to coordinate activity among several sales analysts.
Hanesbrands now maintains its POS data in a single DSR, so everyone has access to the same accurate information in near real-time. That eliminates the conflicts or confusion that can result when executives or managers work from separately sourced, inconsistent
“Having ‘a single version of the truth’ and making that ‘truth’ easily accessible is a huge benefit for us,” says Philyaw. “It eliminates conversations over what’s the right data, and puts us immediately in a position to make use of the data. With VMT’s Velocity®
and Microsoft’s BI platform, we can use advanced analytics for more in-depth and insightful analyses.”
Hanesbrands has used the solution, for example, to identify the incremental sales value of bonus packs. It has determined whether, and by how much, such bonus packs have a positive or negative effect on net income. It uses that knowledge, in turn, to help determine
how to spend its promotional budget.
Helps Contribute to Reduction in Innerwear Finished Goods Inventory Units by More Than 10 Percent
With the solution in use at Hanesbrands for about 18 months, the company already sees major business impacts. For example, the company spent millions of dollars in 2010 to implement across-the-board price increases to account for increases in the costs of cotton
and oil, two of its biggest expenses. Now, Hanesbrands can implement a similar price increase for just one third of its previous cost, according to Purcell.
More significantly, Hanesbrands is using the solution to maintain efficient inventory levels, as opposed to inadvertently raising those levels when it forecasts too high of a demand. The closer alignment of inventory to sales is a significant factor in the
company’s reduction of inventory costs. For example, Hanesbrands used Velocity® to help contribute to a reduction in Innerwear finished goods inventory units by more than 10 percent.
Hanesbrands is using this savings to help pay off debt incurred when it became an independent company in 2006.
“The impact of Velocity® and Microsoft on our business is tremendous,” says Purcell. “We’re freeing up large amounts of cash, reducing debt and interest on that debt, identifying ways to increase sales through pricing and promotion strategies, and ensuring
we deliver the right merchandise—and enough of it—to our retailers at the right time. And we’ve only just begun.”
Microsoft Server Product Portfolio
For more information about the Microsoft server product portfolio, go to:
For More Information
For more information about Microsoft products and services, call the Microsoft Sales Information Center at (800) 426-9400. In Canada, call the Microsoft Canada Information Centre at (877) 568-2495. Customers in the United States and Canada who are deaf or hard-of-hearing
can reach Microsoft text telephone (TTY/TDD) services at (800) 892-5234. Outside the 50 United States and Canada, please contact your local Microsoft subsidiary. To access information using the World Wide Web, go to:
For more information about Vendor Managed Technologies, Inc. (VMT) solutions and services, call
(616) 889-9660 or visit the website at:
For more information about Hanesbrands products, visit the website at: