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Posted: 4/20/2010
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vente-privee.com Online Retailer Boosts Productivity with Self-Service Business Intelligence Solution

Vente-privee.com wanted to provide self-service business intelligence capabilities to improve decision making and enhance the customer experience. In 2010, the company deployed Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2, Office Professional 2010, and SharePoint Server 2010. Now, customers can access the information they need and employees can use features such as Microsoft SQL Server PowerPivot for Microsoft Excel to boost productivity, raise service levels, and foster innovation.

Business Needs

Founded in 2001, international retailer vente-privee.com sells past-season designer products—including apparel, housewares, electronics, and wine—at discounted prices to its 10 million members. Each day, the company’s IT infrastructure supports 400,000 simultaneous customers when new sales are posted every morning—and it ships 65,000 packages to clients in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom.

* The self-service business intelligence tools in Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 and Excel 2010 make us more efficient and independent in how we can create reports and analyze data.  *

Pauline Lamielle
Marketing Intelligence Analysis Team Manager

To facilitate sales and operations, vente-privee.com uses enterprise applications to collect data about e-commerce, customer relationship management, logistics, and catalog production. The applications store information in multiple databases that run technologies including Microsoft SQL Server 2005 and 2008 Enterprise data management software. To facilitate access, vente-privee.com aggregates all of its disparate corporate data in a data warehouse built with SQL Server 2005 Enterprise.

For the company to remain competitive, employees must generate reports to capture pertinent business intelligence (BI) information such as consumer trends, sales quotas, and product revenue. In the past, employees asked IT to create custom report templates that could capture specific types of information from various systems. Any change to a template required IT assistance. This process worked, but employees in groups such as sales and marketing intelligence wanted to be able to analyze data and create new types of reports on their own—even with data that was not yet integrated with the company’s data warehouse. The marketing intelligence team also wanted a simple and secure way to share information about purchases with premier customers and business partners.


In 2010, vente-privee.com decided to enhance its BI solution by taking advantage of new self-service features in Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2. Employees can use these features, such as Microsoft SQL Server PowerPivot for Microsoft Excel, to collect and analyze hundreds of millions of rows of database information from numerous sources using Microsoft Excel 2010 spreadsheet software. Employees can also use Report Builder 3.0 in Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Reporting Services to design reports that present data in new ways, such as maps. “Our decision to move to SQL Server 2008 R2 was an easy one,” explains Nicolas Genest, Architecture, Innovation and Quality Director at vente-privee.com. “The real power of SQL Server 2008 R2 for vente-privee.com is the coupling of the product with Microsoft Office 2010, especially through the use of SQL Server PowerPivot for Excel and Excel 2010.”

Vente-privee.com also completed its corporate intranet—originally built with Microsoft SharePoint 2007—with Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 so that it could take advantage of Microsoft SQL Server PowerPivot for Microsoft SharePoint. With it, employees can use secure portals to share information with internal and external clients through spreadsheets and reports that contain PowerPivot data. Employees can configure refresh cycles in SharePoint Server 2010 so that PowerPivot data is automatically updated when changes are made to the source data.

In addition, the company made Microsoft Office Professional 2010 available to its employees in charge of business analysis and the monitoring of key performance indicators. IT personnel also built a demo portal for premier brands and customers so that they can securely access data about their products and operations.


With its new self-service BI solution based on SQL Server 2008 R2, Excel 2010, and SharePoint Server 2010, vente-privee.com can enhance productivity, customer service, and innovation.

Increases Productivity

Today, more people can access the corporate data they need to do their job, and IT personnel can still control who accesses what data. In addition, employees can analyze information and use it to create new reports from their desktops without engaging IT personnel. “For most employees, our work begins and ends in Excel 2010,” says Pauline Lamielle, Marketing Intelligence Analysis Team Manager at vente-privee.com. “With SQL Server PowerPivot for Excel and Report Builder 3.0, we can define our own visualizations and conduct our own studies.”

Employees can create reports faster by reusing report parts that others have published on the intranet, such as a chart that shows sales trends for a specific brand of shoes. To reuse a part, an employee simply drags it into a report. Employees can also work more efficiently from remote locations by managing large amounts of data in an Excel spreadsheet. “The self-service business intelligence tools in Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 and Excel 2010 make us more efficient and independent in how we can create reports and analyze data,” explains Lamielle. “As a result, we make more informed decisions and can quickly deliver more innovative and mature business offerings.”

Enhances Service Levels

The ability to represent gigabytes of data visually makes it easier to translate business trends and ideas into new service offerings. For example, employees can use Report Builder 3.0 to add maps that organize data by countries, regions, or cities. When the user clicks an area on the map, he or she can view the data for that area—for example, the types of purchases made. The new solution also makes it easy for customers and business partners to view detailed transaction information.Boosts Innovation

The self-service BI tools have transformed how employees work. For example, they can spontaneously create reports that answer a question in a meeting, analyze the feasibility of a new idea, or respond to an unusual customer request. They can also add sparklines to tables that show trends such as the yearly revenue of each department. “With the new graphical tools in Report Builder 3.0, we have greatly improved the quality of our reports,” says Genest. “We can use features such as maps and publish them to numerous platforms including mobile phones, multitouch devices, and our intranet.”

This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY.
Solution Overview

Organization Size: 1200 employees

Organization Profile

Based in Paris, France, vente-privee.com is an online retailer that sells discounted designer products including apparel. In 2009, the company earned €700 million (U.S.$936 million) in revenue.

Software and Services
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Enterprise
  • Microsoft SQL Server PowerPivot for Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft Excel 2010
  • Microsoft Office Professional 2010
  • Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010

Vertical Industries
Specialty Retail


Business Need
Business Intelligence and Reporting

IT Issue
Data Warehousing