Hudson's Bay Company:
The world's oldest continuing corporation and $5 billion retail company.
Objective: To merge six million customers from their three retail chains into a consolidated marketing database. 14 Million unduplicated customers. To replace their dependence on corporate MIS for reporting and name selection. To incorporate four statistical models into list selection.
Challenge: To summarize the 250 million transactions into meaningful variables in the customer record. To replace the marketing functionality of CARA, their retail transaction system.
Obstacles: MIS were significantly threatened by this project. Later we learned it is possible that we were given the project in part because of their certainty that we would fail. Building what was believed to be the largest relational database system in the world presented substantial technological hurdles. Borland International was forced to buy a 15-Gig disk array just to replicate our problems.
Solution: Initially, MMI created an analysis system that not only provided counts, models and EIS drill down but MMI produced the first on-line model building system fully integrated with list selection. This allows Hudson's Bay to select names based on historical performance, use SPSS CHAID to model their behavior variables and select names from either their retail or direct marketing databases. MMI lent HBC a complete system for more than eight months because their specified hardware would not work. The system runs on two Pentium 66 MHz machines, holding 7.5 million customers and over 100 million transactions on line. The head of MIS for Blockbuster video said it was the fastest relational database they had seen on any platform. Before moving to weekly update, the largest monthly load topped 20 million transactions, but took less than 36 hours. PowerPlay (executive drill down tool) gives HBC counts on 14 variables for their entire customer file in less than 30 seconds. HBC has been using the system for 2 ½ years.
Summary: The massive technological challenges have been solved giving HBC one of the most impressive marketing systems in the world. They have continued to make minor enhancements to keep current with our other state of the art systems.