BENTONVILLE, Ark. -- Wal-Mart Stores here said last week that it is planning a major expansion of its Web-enabled data warehouse and data-mining system in an effort to provide its suppliers with access to a greater amount of sales history, enhancing the ability to spot long-term trends.
The retailer recently expanded the storage capacity of its data warehouse to 101 terabytes from 44 terabytes and is in the process of making additional sales data available to its suppliers. The retailer would not comment on when the expanded sales history would be available to suppliers.
When the project is completed, Wal-Mart will provide suppliers with access to 104 weeks worth of sales data through the Web. Prior to the system's upgrade, the retailer could only store 52 weeks of sales history for each supplier.
Currently, about 7,000 suppliers access sales history via the Internet.
With a richer history of sales data, the retailer hopes to improve its own forecasting capabilities as well as those of its suppliers. The enhanced sales data will hopefully minimize situations where a product is out of stock or overstocked.
"We have high expectations for our suppliers, and we provide a great amount in terms of business systems capability," said Randy Mott, Wal-Mart senior vice president and chief information officer, in a statement. "[The system] gives Wal-Mart buyers and suppliers the information they need to treat each store as if it were the only one in the chain."
Data on the previous day's information on more than 10 million customer transactions is available from every store in every country before 4 a.m. the following day.
The Web-based system uses a relational database system from NCR, Dayton, Ohio, and software developed by Wal-Mart.
Wal-Mart officials said the data warehouse averages about 120,000 queries per week. "It's really all about service to our customers," said Tom Coughlin, president and chief executive officer of the Wal-Mart Stores division, in a statement. "Our investment in this technology helps our supplier partners and Wal-Mart buyers provide customers with what they want: the right product in the right store at the right price."