While the retail industry has transformed dramatically in the past two decades, one thing has hardly changed at all: Holiday sales between Thanksgiving and Christmas still account for a disproportionate percentage of annual sales—approximately 25% for most store types—and the 2018 holiday season is projected to generate $1.1 trillion. As competition from online retailers continues to intensify, there’s no margin of error during this make-or-break season. That challenge is compounded for long-standing retailers who must stay ahead of customer expectations for speed, value, and convenience—expectations that increase daily. After all, the retail landscape is littered with once-great brands that failed to keep up with the digital revolution.
Retailers who managed not only to survive but to excel in this environment have done so by embracing digital transformation. They’re adopting technology to provide customers with a highly tailored omnichannel experience that reimagines the role of their brick-and-mortar stores while meeting consumer expectations for speed and convenience with vastly improved supply chain efficiency.
On the surface, two such success stories, Target and Tractor Supply Co., seem to have little in common besides their U.S. footprint of approximately 1,800 locations. Target is an international big-box retailer with more than 323,000 team members worldwide. Tractor Supply Co., with 29,300 employees, serves a niche market of farmers, ranchers, and suburban and rural homeowners. Yet both met their technology challenges with agile, cloud-centric IT systems to support basic business infrastructure as well as essential retail-specific functions across their digital and physical environments. For both Target and Tractor Supply Co., Oracle Exadata provided the high-speed database referencing and workload transaction processing necessary to manage inventory in real time for online customers and to provide the option to pick up online purchases in store.
One of the world’s best known retail brands, Target must maintain a highly complex global retail operation while competing head-on with giants such as Walmart and Amazon. Exceeding customer expectations with innovative services is a central part of the company’s tech strategy, and speed of deployment is key.
When the company sought a platform to empower its development community and bring innovation to customers quickly, it turned to Oracle Exadata. The results were dramatic: After consolidating more than 350 systems onto Exadata, Target saw a 300% performance increase that enabled batch-processing of SQL statements 5x faster while improving overall stability and reliability.
As a result, Target was able to build and roll out its “pick up at store” and “ship from store” services at more than 1,000 locations just three months from its Exadata deployment.
To get the full story, watch our video with Target’s Senior VP of Infrastructure and Operations.
Tractor Supply Co. is a rapidly expanding retail chain growing at the rate of 75 to 100 stores annually. But it was becoming clear that the company’s data infrastructure—DIY hardware consisting of fragmented network, compute, and storage vendors—struggled to keep up. This resulted in disruptive performance and reliability issues that were untenable during the do-or-die holiday season. Mission-critical systems would fail during peak times such as Black Friday, resulting in lost sales, frustrated customers, and panicked late-night calls to the IT team.
“One of the things in retail that you have to plan for is, obviously, the holiday season. In order for us to curtail the amount of outages or potential outages, we plan thoroughly through that holiday season to make sure we can provide the most uptime,” explains Technology Manager Drew Diamond. “One of the things that I think my team was probably most proud of is that there were zero bumps or blips coming out of anything on the Oracle side.”
For more of Drew’s insights from Tractor Supply’s success story, watch the video.
To learn more about how Oracle engineered systems can help your retail organization merge brick-and-mortar and online environments into a unique omnichannel customer experience, chat with an expert.