Comet is using BI software across four areas of its operations: stores, commercial, supplier and financial. Of these deployments, Andy Hicketts, Comet’s IS development controller, says the “killer” application is its store reporting software from supplier MicroStrategy.

The intranet-based software provides store managers with quick access to centrally stored data, including sales, shopping basket analysis and product margins. They can measure their performance against other stores in the same region, giving them an incentive to sell more higher value products. It also helps drive more effective allocation of floor space for proven strong selling products, based on up-to-date information shared between stores.

Responding more rapidly to customer spending patterns is another benefit. “We poll our stores every 15 minutes. We can see the last 15 minutes of sales across the UK,” says Hicketts. This sales data is then loaded into the data warehouse each day so that it is ready for analysis the next morning.

In other areas, the electrical retailer is using MicroStrategy’s supplier scorecard software to rate suppliers against criteria, including order fulfilment and profitability.

On its strategic use of BI, Hicketts says: “I am a massive fan of push reporting. It is the ability to look forward, such as if you take this action, you will get this rebate from a supplier. It is having data about your top 20 product sales but the forward-looking element is particularly important.”