During busy periods, slow system response times prolonged the time taken for Martins’ salespeople to order goods for clients, eating into sellers’ productivity and damaging the customer experience.
By upgrading to the latest servers, Martins boosted the performance of its online store and back-end systems, enabling salespeople to order customers’ goods in record time—even during busy periods.
83%cut in time taken to order goods during busy periods
2xhigher order-processing capacity, enabling a smooth customer experience at all times
Liftsrevenues by enabling salespeople to work more productively
Business challenge story
Golden sales opportunitiesWholesaler Martins’ bread-and-butter business comes from small and medium-sized retailers across Brazil placing bulk orders for a wealth of goods, ranging from groceries and cosmetics to electricals. To provide excellent service to these customers, Martins send travelling salespeople to visit them. The travelling sellers place orders offline on customers’ behalf, and orders are submitted once a network connection is available.
If individual consumers choose to purchase goods from Martins, they can contact the call center, and a salesperson will place their order. Alternatively, they can purchase goods from the online store. Retailers also have the option of ordering goods over the phone or online too, if they choose to do so.
If a salesperson purchases goods on a customers’ behalf, the order is submitted directly to the same back-end Oracle systems that support the online store. Between face-to-face, phone and web orders, busy periods often saw up to 300 people placing orders in the same back-end systems simultaneously.
Paula Souto Perfeito, IT Analyst at Martins, explains: “During busy periods when many people tried to place orders simultaneously, response times ballooned. Simple purchases that were typically completed in under ten minutes could take an hour—causing frustration for sales representatives and customers alike. The travelling salespeople were hit particularly hard, as they could not leave a customer site until the order had been processed, affecting sales productivity.
“To reduce the impact on customers and sales teams during periods of high activity, IT staff investigated which tasks were consuming most of the processor resources. It was often necessary to postpone processes until the queues for processing decreased and update queries to make them faster by using other systems. This approach diminished the productivity of IT employees and was neither efficient nor sustainable.
“We recognized that to provide better service to our existing customers, and to support future growth in our business, we needed to ensure that customers and agents could place orders quickly during even the busiest periods.”
The Martins team realized that it faced three related challenges: the ability to handle general processing capacity for business as usual; the capacity to manage very large workload peaks at busy times; and the long-term scalability to absorb future growth.
Finding the right fit
Martins decided to migrate its Oracle Database, which supports the company’s in-house developed ERP applications and provides product catalog services for the web store, to a new IBM® Power® E880 server. The server delivers the high-performance transaction capabilities needed for the daily workload, and offers instant scalability for peak workloads, with additional processors available for activation during critical busy periods. Finally, further processors may also be added within the same system to offer headroom for long-term growth.
To unleash greater performance for online shoppers, Martins migrated its online store, which runs on IBM WebSphere® Commerce, to two IBM Power S824 servers to provide similarly high-capacity, scalable compute power. The Power Systems™ servers run the IBM AIX® and IBM i operating systems in separate logical partitions, virtualized using PowerVM® technology.
“Each time we upgrade our servers, we look at a range of current offerings on the market to ensure that we’re getting the right solution for the best price,” remarks Paula. “Time and time again we select IBM Power Systems, because the platform offers excellent value for money. We trust Power Systems to meet our demands in terms of performance and availability.
“By upgrading from POWER7 to POWER8, we doubled our order-processing capacity. What’s more, with POWER8 we kept Oracle license costs stable. That’s because we could continue using the same number of processors, and Oracle Database licenses are charged on a per-processor basis.”
Stellar purchasing experienceBy upgrading to the latest generation of servers, Martins has hiked the performance of its online store and back-end systems. As a result, customers, call-center agents and travelling salespeople can place orders faster and more conveniently than ever.
Paula comments: “Previously, during busy periods that occurred around three times per month, customers and sales representatives needed an hour to place an order. Now, orders can be processed six times faster during peak times—an 83-percent improvement. Similarly, call-center operators and travelling salespeople can work more productively than ever, helping more customers place orders and lifting revenues.”
Previously, major events in the shopping calendar—such as Black Friday—presented significant challenges for Martins. Now, when big sales events approach, Martins activates the capacity-on-demand processors in its Power E880 server, enabling it to process higher volumes of orders rapidly.
“With capacity-on-demand from Power Systems, we can easily manage the additional workload on busy sales days, and pay for it on an as-needed basis,” says Paula. “On-demand scalability is a much more cost-effective option than purchasing and maintaining a larger infrastructure that rarely approaches full utilization. By ensuring that our online store is running fast on big days in the shopping calendar, we can be confident that customers enjoy a great experience every time, and maximize sales.”
In addition, upgrading to POWER8 processor technology has made life much easier for employees in the IT department, because they no longer need to create manual workarounds to ensure rapid response times for the online store and back-end systems.
“Once again, our decision to stick with the IBM Power Systems platform has paid off,” Paula concludes. “As our business grows, we can activate additional processors to support increased traffic on our online store, which runs on IBM WebSphere Commerce.
“Thanks to IBM and Oracle, we can provide an excellent experience for both customers and the sales teams every time, helping us boost sales and strengthen our reputation.”
Founded in 1953, Martins Comércio e Serviço de Distribuição (Martins) is one of Brazil’s leading wholesalers and distributors. Headquartered in Uberlândia, the company operates sites across the nation, offering around 18,900 products to approximately 2.5 million customers. Its logistics infrastructure comprises over 1,100 trucks covering 34 million kilometers every year, plus a network of more than 30 third-party distributors.
- IBM Power Systems E880
- IBM Power Systems S824
- Power Systems
- Power Systems running AIX
- IBM Power Systems running i7