Tapping into data
Based in Walker, Michigan, Meijer is a major regional supercenter chain with 230 stores in six states. All Meijer supercenters include a pharmacy and most also include a gas station. One of America’s largest private companies, Meijer has a long history of innovation, including the introduction of the modern supercenter more than 50 years ago.
Understanding operational performance and customer behavior was easier when Meijer opened its first stores in Michigan. Now, it’s a different world, with aggressive competition, hundreds of stores, and products that range from groceries and gasoline to electronics and pet supplies. And while the phrase, “There’s more at Meijer” refers to products, it could also apply to data. The company had a potential gold mine of information, but no way to tap into it consistently across the organization.
Meijer was using a variety of technologies to manage information, including a data warehouse based on Teradata, a homegrown business intelligence (BI) tool, and reporting software from other vendors. In addition, the company’s business users relied heavily on Microsoft Excel. However, despite the diversity of technology, the company’s stakeholders all had one thing in common—they relied on IT to help extract insight from data.
Marilyn Richards, Director of Business Intelligence and Collaboration at Meijer, wanted to create a more self-sufficient environment. “No matter where I go, the demand for BI is always greater than the supply,” she says. “And people don’t always have time to wait for IT to build every report. Plus, they were unable to do on-the-fly, ad hoc analysis easily. We have to empower the business customers with relevant and timely reporting to react quickly and appropriately.”