Eren Retail goes beyond borders with cloud-based data warehouse project

Our "Modernization of Data Infrastructures and Analytical Applications" Project, which we started with Eren Retail, was crowned as a Success Story by Microsoft.

In operation since 1969, Eren Holding is a well-established enterprise based in Turkey with activities in a wide range of industries from energy to tourism. Eren Retail, a subsidiary of the holding company, makes use of Microsoft cloud technologies to further enhance the agility of its domestic and international operations.

Eren Retail undertakes the Turkey-wide operation management of prominent retail brands such as Lacoste, Burberry, Gant, Nautica, The Kooples, SuperStep, and Converse. For brands like Lacoste, Nautica, and Gant, this involves local manufacturing, while for others, business processes are quite comprehensive, including management of overseas purchasing, store operations, distribution network, and agent structure. Furthermore, this framework is not limited to Turkey. The enterprise is built to work across borders for all distribution, marketing, and sales operations in a wide range of countries—including Hungary, Czechia, and Albania, by way of company offices in Russia, Ukraine, and Poland.

Overall, Eren Holding has a retail sales and distribution network comprising more than 300 points of sale, 127 of which are within Turkey. Specifically, for Lacoste, whose partnership with the company dates back to 1995, Eren Holding is the most comprehensive operation among other Lacoste operations globally.

All that is needed for an integrated structure 

Eren Retail is designed to operate within a decentralized structure to allow its various countries, cultures, and ways of doing business function efficiently. Realizing that consolidation, monitoring, and reporting of the locally collected enterprise resource planning (ERP) data can be quite cumbersome and challenging, in October 2019, management kickstarted the data warehouse project to resolve any issues that arise.

In search of an overarching and high-performance structure with standard metrics and KPIs incorporated across the board, and reporting capabilities that meet the need, the business moved forward with due diligence process. Considering the multinational nature of the business, the company decided that a cloud-based structure would better suit its needs than an intranet system and selected the Microsoft Azure cloud platform. Starting to work with and benefit from the analytics, insights, and AI technology capabilities of Microsoft business partner Trendify Analytics, Eren Retail opted for a cloud-based data warehouse project.

“Our decision to work with Microsoft business partner Trendify opened up the whole Microsoft ecosystem for our perusal,” explains Serdar Poyraz, Director of IT and Systems Development at Eren Holding. “Partner support and Microsoft`s presence meant that we were able to bring up the entire framework in less than a day. We had unwavering support at each critical point from trainings to various technical details. We are on track and very close to our intended target in terms of data warehousing. Our expectations going forward include the data warehouse to expand and house other source systems, to retrieve all ERP-fed data and offer automated reporting functionality. Not only for reporting but also for advances going forward, retail mathematics is among our targets. We are striving toward a system where other metrics like sales analyses and forecast-based calculations will form the basis of our work.” Designed to include all countries of operation within the business, the project was divided into various phases to start with sales operations where purchasing and other modules were to follow in due course. The ultimate goal was to design and erect a system that enabled all countries of operation function seamlessly in a concurrent fashion and a business flow with top performance management reporting and high-level data visualization capabilities.

“It is a joy working with Eren Retail. This is derived from the habitual strength of operational teams in data-based decision making, the swift adoption of systems developed, and their agile business standards that allow timely output of results. The core team within the company made it possible for us to proudly meet targets on time and live up to the commitments made to senior management. Most of our infrastructure work required for the descriptive analysis will be complete by year’s end. It is our objective that analytics-based applications we will develop will yield an enhanced profitability for the company.”

M. Can Tüfekçi, Founder and Consultant at Trendify

A quick look into project scope

Data warehouse project was kickstarted, onboarding the four main countries of Turkey, Russia, Ukraine, and Poland. With Poland also fronting three other countries (Czechia, Hungary, and Slovakia), this meant that the system allowed for data flow from a total of seven countries.

Initiating the first stage with SQL servers, the team uses Microsoft SQL Server service with Azure and Data Factory solutions to communicate with source systems, with the latter facilitating integration of data received in fragments from various local ERPs and other legacy systems. Data is then made available for users and visualized through Azure analytics services. When Microsoft Power BI service is onboard, all four main services are clearly used by Azure.

Resistance against changes in technology are a common occurrence in business life, and Eren Retail was no exception. When leadership demonstrated the performance strength and capabilities of the new provision, as well as the opportunity it provided to the workforce in terms of IT self-sufficiency of business processes, a major increase in uptake emerged. Training sessions were arranged to optimize user efficiency in areas such as dashboard customization, Excel–based reporting and ad-hoc analysis. Following an initial tryout, users were able to create and fine-tune templates to suit their needs. Things were not any less exciting on the management front either. IT reports that it is now possible to describe the structure in a much clearer way, thanks to the Power BI–assisted, striking dashboards.

Being able to display all countries on the same platform is a major gain for management. It enables a more flexible and insight-driven perspective on the data by way of single-platform comparison, clear indication of ups and downs in growth, and clear visualization.

Why the Azure cloud platform?

The project team was intent on a cloud-based solution at the very onset and was familiar with the cloud platform, since Microsoft Office 365 and Power BI were already household names within the company. Considering the structural significance of a big step like data warehousing, further analyses in adoptability, user-friendliness, and competition were deemed necessary. The extensive use of the system in industry, ease of operation, and developmental compatibility meant that the ultimate decision was made in favor of Microsoft.

While Eren Retail`s willingness to design the new structure with advanced technology highlighted cloud as the major contender, it was evident that alternative providers were keener to work on-premises. Microsoft solutions in enabling overseas operations data integration and centralization were a major factor in decision making. From data retrieval through Data Factory to data warehouse processing, the project design allows all to work seamlessly in the cloud with approximately 70 pipeline and 150 data sets being processed and recorded in data warehouses on a daily basis. The project`s focus will be to facilitate target- and forecast- based operations once the more descriptive 2020 agenda for retrieving actual figures of all countries of operation is complete. The existing data warehouse is designed in such a way that more forecast-based work will be possible going forward, while the future timeline is earmarked for work on machine learning.

The recent global health crisis reinforced the need for agility in remote work. “COVID-19 reasserted the importance of mobile working” says Osman Şentürk, CEO of Eren Retail. “During this period, we took a step up in corporate agility by connecting retail and analytic data of our seven countries of operation and approximately 300 stores through smart decision-making systems in the cloud. Our employees were able to work securely from home-ensured business continuity, and we were able to create a borderless system for business-critical decision making. Working with industry experts like Microsoft and Trendify secured a fast track route to solid systems that were right for us.”

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