Intertoys

Cloud data analytics platform creates building blocks for agility and cost-savings.

Intertoys is a Teradata Vantage customer

Data analytics can make or break a retailer’s holiday season’s revenues.

You likely associate the holidays with the busiest time of year for toy retailers. Yet, predicting the most popular toys, colors, and video games for the holidays, in addition to ordering and managing stock is started months in advance. Manufacturer orders are completed by March with distribution centers full in the summer. Starting September, toy retailers ensure inventory levels stay replenished, demand is properly forecasted, sales volumes are managed, and all stores are keeping an eye on the hottest toy of the year.

Intertoys B.V., the largest chain of toy stores in the Netherlands turns to data to run their business. The retailer is integrating data across its 200+ retail locations, online channel, sister companies, and even external sources, to create a complete view of inventory, sales, and stock positions at any given time. A cloud data analytics modernization effort has repositioned this established retailer into a modern enterprise where data (and the intelligence that comes from that data) is becoming the central focus of their business.

As the largest retail toy store chain in the Netherlands, Intertoys seeks to stay ahead of the competition. To do so, they need to not only leverage data they own and create but also external, third-party data to help uncover insights into demand, trends, and seasonality.

“Data has become more and more important.”

“We’re now learning not only from data that we have, but in the future, we will also use outside external data so that we can see relationships we normally don’t see. For example, a sporting event or a television show’s success (i.e. sponsoring LEGO Masters with ads) and the effect these activities have on product purchases.”

Robin Tichler, IT Manager

Intertoys by the numbers

200+
Retail locations
44
Year history (founded in 1976) 
2017
ING Retail Annual Award for Best Retail Chain – Toys

Data integration of third-party data (like weather, sporting events, and pop-culture events) with owned-data (like product, sales, and customer data) creates more answers for deeper insights.

“We look to perform complex, multi-join queries to find unique combinations of data, how world events impact sales or specific products. For example, predicting an event’s impact that may lead to an increase in sales of a certain kind of product and by a target customer group. Or, what is the weather or a sporting event’s influence? We must combine that outside and third-party data into our Teradata Vantage cloud data analytics platform.”

Data latency creates a need to modernize.

“The first thing we were looking for is a centralized and integrated data warehouse where we have all the toys (product), sales data, master data, finance data, and so on. Teradata is a very powerful cloud data analytics platform in which we can easily integrate all the different areas and data sources into a single, managed data analytics platform.”

Robin Tichler, IT Manager, Intertoys, B.V.

Organizations that lack integrated data will be challenged to make decisions with only partial data. For Intertoys, operating retail chains and managing online sales, this creates a unique challenge for Intertoys and one they turned to Teradata Vantage.

“That’s a huge challenge because the data sources vary greatly as every retail chain uses different ERP or legacy systems which Teradata works with. We chose Teradata as the best cloud data analytics platform, and that Vantage unifies data lakes, data warehouses, and analytics in the Cloud.”

Their decision for Teradata dates back to the original on-premises platform. As a long-time Teradata customer, Intertoys’ original data analytics platform was an on-premises solution within the data center of a systems integrator (SI). Combined with the hardware depreciation schedule was a series of acquisitions, private equity-backing purchases, and divestitures. Under new management and vision, Intertoys began a data modernization strategy which included evaluating the Cloud.

“Previously, we centrally managed our own data center. One and a half years ago, we started to think about cloud solutions. Why should we use cloud solutions? What’s the benefit for us? At that point, we decided that every application should be in the Cloud.”

Migrating to the Cloud provides Intertoys with newfound agility, freeing limited internal resources from managing infrastructure resources to focus on more strategic IT initiatives that continue to advance Intertoys’ data analytics capabilities.

Public cloud offers cost-savings and flexibililty.

“The public cloud is cheaper and has become more secure. You have the flexibility to scale up and down, and it’s available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We know we cannot support the technical part ourselves. The technology is growing rapidly and becomes difficult for our internal resources. For that, we look to others to manage the capability.”

Robin Tichler, IT Manager, Intertoys, B.V.

After identifying the Cloud was an ideal balance of cost and security with agility and innovation, Intertoys considered their preference of available public cloud service providers (CSP).

Recognizing Amazon’s competitive marketplace presence in the digital retail and toy space, Intertoys opted for Microsoft Azure as their preferred cloud service provider.

Next, the team evaluated multiple cloud data analytics providers. Several being cloud-only. Included in the evaluation was Teradata with its unique, hybrid multi-cloud deployment flexibility.

Teradata beats the competition at scale.

“We did test with multiple cloud vendors, but Teradata is the best-in-class when performing complex queries and handling data volume. We can easily scale up and down. Gartner also rates Teradata at the top in terms of scaling to handle large data volumes, query response times, concurrency, and query complexity.”

Robin Tichler, IT Manager, Intertoys, B.V.

Intertoys’ evaluation saw, first-hand, Teradata’s multidimensional scalability differentiation.

For Intertoys’ complex business where integrating data across multiple retail stores and sister companies leads to more users, more queries, more complex queries, and more data, means the modern cloud data analytics platform must be able to scale across a multitude of dimensions simultaneously – without adverse impacts on other domains.

With data volume scaling up as Intertoys integrates data across its variety of data sources, their complex multi-join queries mean the cloud data analytics platform needs to also scale in query complexity, concurrently. Additionally, some of these new data sources (e.g. weather, social media) present semi-structured data, their platform also must support sophisticated schemas – be it normalized, semi-structured, or unstructured schemas. As Intertoys continues to treat data as its greatest asset, the number of applications relying on data analytics increases, creating highly mixed workloads – from simple reporting, and executive dashboards, to complex data science models. This diversity in workloads can strain data analytics platforms to maintain SLAs when applications and users are increasing platform utilization.

“We have seen Teradata Vantage on Azure to be more reliable. We have gained reliable and predictable query response times even as we expand in data volume, query volume, query complexity, and workloads.”

Intertoys’ tests of cloud-only vendors saw those technologies constrained, incapable of scaling in multidimensions simultaneously. Migrating their on-premises environment, Intertoys now relies on Teradata Vantage on Azure as the data analytics platform built for a hybrid multi-cloud world. The Teradata data analytics platform has proven its ability to elastically scale up/down and in/out, providing Intertoys with the highest performance at scale, with the lowest total cost. 

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