Maximum speed at one of Europe’s largest department stores​

All functionality in one application from Heads and a super fast database technology from Starcounter. That’s the crucial ingredients behind the IT success at Sweden’s retail wonder Gekås. The secret weapon is real time. For real.

Gekås in Ullared in Sweden is a ”pretty big shop”, to say the least. It even has its own reality TV show. On a good Saturday, more than 17 000 receipts are being processed, with more than 600 000 separate rows for different articles being sold. There are 82 POS (point of sales) stations to handle this load. Gekås article database contains more than 280 000 items.

Anyone can understand this means though demands on the IT solutions being used. Ten years ago the people that Gekås felt that the applications being used didn’t cut it. There were several problems.

The most obvious problem was instability, which equals disaster in a retail environment. Closely related to stability problems was a performance that was lacking and the need to integrate several different application to provide IT solutions for all the different activities at Gekås. To put it shortly, it was a mess.

Zero downtime in eight years

2008 Gekås got in contact with the Swedish ISV Heads who built one application that handles the complete chain of activities, from sourcing products to selling them. Gekås started using Heads application 2010, and the year after the complete chain of activities were covered.

So far, eight years after going live, the application has never been down. And the performance is top notch. For example, the latency is super low and it’s possible to do real time analysis on transaction data. Add to that the possibility to upgrade 400 POS clients in four hours. The POS clients not only include cashier’s stations, but also price information stations and other workstations of different kinds.

How is all this possible? There are two main reasons:

  • Heads’ application covers all the activities performed at a retail operation like Gekås’.
  • The foundation of the application is Starcounter’s in-memory database, which offers unprecedented performance.

The application, simply called Heads, includes ERP, POS, inventory, sourcing, supply chain and other logistics. On top of this there are solutions for mobile clients, integration with other applications, configuration of web user interfaces, and more. The purchasers work in the same applications as the people managing incoming deliveries and the warehouse, and as the cashiers, and all administrative personnel.

Of course, this minimizes and simplifies the technical integration work needed.

̶  The application design eliminates integration problems, says Henrik Larsson, CEO at Heads.

High performance and easy to use

The use of the Starcounter Database means extreme performance and unequaled stability.

̶  We have 20 customers in retail, some with many geographical locations, and have never experienced a service outage, says Henrik Larsson.

The use of Starcounter Database also means that not only data in itself, but also complicated analysis of the data, is available in real-time, with “a click on a button”. This would be impossible with a database that offers lesser performance. The real-time capabilities give ample opportunities for both business development and monitoring of ongoing business processes.

For a retail company like Gekås the mentioned capabilities provide the difference between being on top of activities, and living in a state of chaos.

One, maybe less obvious, advantage with using Starcounter Database is simplified development.

̶  Our developers think it’s a pleasure working with the Starcounter Database. They work fast and the development process is simple. It provides short time to market.

As an example of extreme performance Henrik Larsson mentions one customer running a detailed report at 100 different locations simultaneously. The load isn’t even noticeable on the single server being used.

The database is only one example of the groundbreaking work being accomplished at Starcounter. Different projects and products are focused on simplifying IT in several, interconnected, ways. Unique solutions for architecture, on different levels of the technical IT stack, means better performance, shorter development times, and not the least a minimum requirement for technical integration.

In the end, that means better business at one of Europe’s largest department stores.