INTERSPORT Austria scores points with customers thanks to real-time services
- Real-time data streaming platform that enables innovative services for retailers and customers
- Optimised customer experience through loyalty programme based on real-time data
- Flexible, scalable solution that enables future additions and expansions
- Real-time data processing and up-to-date information on merchandise availability allows for functioning omni-channel sales
- Web service technology links many systems and enables targeted data processing
The system massively improves the customer loyalty process. Annual printed bonus vouchers are a thing of the past and we can now award bonus points flexibly, continuously create added value for customers and better monitor purchasing behaviour.
Werner Mayr, INTERSPORT Austria
INTERSPORT Austria operates more than 350 locations in Austria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary. The retail group employs about 3,600 people in more than 280 shops in Austria and serves more than 1.8 million regular customers. The company supports its retail partners with tasks such as shop design at the POS, corporate planning, marketing and advertising as well as merchandising, but also with services such as the rental platform or Firmenradl.at. When INTERSPORT Austria introduced a new loyalty programme that included a Customer App and a new cash register system, these systems had to be integrated into the existing services such as merchandise management, financial accounting and the rental solution. „That’s why we were looking for a solution that would link the relevant systems via interfaces. The platform also had to be sufficiently open, flexible and scalable to allow for further tasks in the future,“ says Werner Mayr, Authorised Signatory and Head of the INTERSPORT Austria ISIS Service Centre, about the system’s requirements.
Focus on real-time data
The new platform‘s central feature is its real-time capabilities “Customers want to be able to instantly check their bonus points and purchase history in the Customer App,” says Mayr. To make this possible, the merchandise management system must be able to immediately process cash register transactions – among others, to show the correct stock level which is an important factor for omnichannel sales. In addition, the system had to integrate various third-party system input formats (e.g. cash register, rental, service) as well as financial accounting data (once a day after balancing cash registers). “The new real-time platform had to be ready to use quickly, modular in its design and expandable or scalable in order to absorb peak loads. The goal was to get the new cash register system, real-time platform and the loyalty programme up and running within twelve months,” reports Mayr.
For this large-scale project, INTERSPORT Austria commissioned IT specialist DCCS, with whom the company has been working very well for many years and who is familiar with the business of the sports retail group. “Decisive factors included DCCS‘s competence, relevant understanding of processes and their experience with our merchandise management,” says Mayr.
DCCS is always expertly prepared. Our great teamwork was characterised by the will to gain a deep understanding of processes, a clear plan based on agile methodology and the very short project period.
Werner Mayr, INTERSPORT Austria
A complex challenge
An agile approach and the cloud-based Confluent platform, which is based on Apache Kafka, were chosen to ensure a quick launch. After the project was started by INTERSPORT Austria, DCCS developed a pilot version of the solution in an incredible short period of three months. First, the exchange of sales data between the cash register and the merchandise management system was tested at an INTERSPORT test register and, after successful testing, the solution was finalised and rolled out. This was followed by the interface to the loyalty programme, which went live after approx. four weeks. The third step involved DCCS setting up the connection of the financial accounting and adaptation to SAP FI. The integration of the rental systems was the last item on the agenda. “The challenge was to connect several systems that produce data in different formats within a short period of time using interfaces, including the new cash register system, but also rental systems such as Wintersteiger‘s. We almost ran out of time,” Mayr looks back. The approach was an event-driven data stream, whereby the platform prepares the different XML formats for the target systems and processes them in real time. An additional challenge was the complexity of the product master data supply system, which had to be converted to new data structures due to the new cash register system. After just six months and several test installations, the solution was rolled out to more than 200 cash registers and training in over 100 INTERSPORT shops began. “We first converted the smaller retailers with a low number of shops to the new system, followed by the larger retailers,” says Mayr.
Goal achieved in record time
Just ten months after project start, DCCS and INTERSPORT Austria finalised the connection of all systems. “The entire system landscape had to be set up anew. Previously, we had mapped the entire process via IBM i merchandise management and prepared the cash register data for merchandise management, the regular customer system and financial accounting. However, one essential aspect was missing: The linkage of sales data in real-time,” Mayr notes. The solution and central real-time data streaming platform Confluent now pulls the sales data from the cash register, online shop and rental service, converts the different data formats and forwards the information to the target systems in real time - and that includes the merchandise management system, the loyalty programme and the Customer App. In the opposite direction, the platform supplies the cash register system with product master data (item number, scan codes, prices) and vendor master. The platform thus provides an immediate overview of all transactions and sales channels.
Decisive factors included DCCS's competence, relevant understanding of processes and their experience with our merchandise management.
Werner Mayr, INTERSPORT Austria
Bonus points available instantly
When a regular customer purchases an item in the shop, their information is recorded at the checkout and item codes are scanned, the price is requested from the system and the sales receipt (including various payment methods) is processed by the real-time data platform. The system honours discounts and informs the customer about their bonus point, forwarding all data to the loyalty system. Bonus points based on different criteria (e.g. merchandise groups) are calculated immediately after the data has been transferred to this system. Great benefit for the customer: Their current bonus point balance and purchase history can now be viewed at any time in the customer portal and the App. Points can be redeemed immediately on the next purchase in an INTERSPORT shop or in the online shop, whereas previously one had to wait for an annual points balance statement. INTERSPORT Austria benefits from a flexible, scalable system that strengthens interaction with consumers and customer loyalty alike.
The solution makes it possible to launch targeted marketing campaigns – e.g. triple bonus points for regular customers when buying a bicycle – communicated via push notifications in the Customer App. “The system massively improves the customer loyalty process. Annual printed bonus vouchers are a thing of the past and we can now award bonus points flexibly, continuously create added value for customers and better monitor purchasing behaviour,” says Mayr.
The real-time data processing platform also allows for precise monitoring of information processing. Various business intelligence dashboards show whether data is processed error-free across the interfaces or if transactions failed to be processed, for instance. “This allows us to react quickly and solve any problems in cooperation with DCCS,” says Mayr and praises the excellent cooperation between the two companies: “DCCS is always expertly prepared. Our great teamwork was characterised by the will to gain a deep understanding of processes, a clear plan based on agile methodology and the very short project period,” Mayr concludes. The real-time platform opens up further possibilities for INTERSPORT Austria, for example the opportunity to include international locations into the loyalty programme and thus strengthen them. Currently 160 shops are integrated into the system, and by the end of 2023 the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary are scheduled to be added.