German supermarket chain REWE wanted to increase the freshness and availability of perishable items and improve its in-store customer experience. Working with Viada GmbH & Co.KG, a Red Hat partner, REWE Systems GmbH used Red Hat JBoss Enterprise Application Platform (EAP) and Red Hat Data Grid to create a mobile inventory application. Now, staff in more than 3,600 stores have faster access to reliable information on item freshness and inventory management, helping them increase their availability to assist customers and ensure shoppers can find the products they want.
Location of headquarters: Cologne, Germany
Size: 140,000 employees
REWE Systems GmbH is the IT division of REWE Group, one of Europe’s largest retailers and travel agents. In Germany, REWE Group’s supermarket chain REWE employs more than 140,000 people and is one of the country’s top two supermarket chains.
To remain competitive, REWE must effectively manage stock levels in its stores—ensuring in-demand products are available and fruit, vegetables, and dairy products are as fresh as possible.
“We needed to improve our processes for perishable goods. Stores had too much stock left over each day,” said Andreas Bukalski, IT consultant for enterprise applications at REWE Systems. “We wanted to manage deliveries better and improve freshness.”
With its previous system, REWE’s in-store staff had to go to an office in the back of the store to place orders or print labels. This process wasted time and meant staff were not as available to help customers. To solve this issue, REWE Systems sought to offer mobile devices for its staff to complete orders and print labels.
To provide faster, mobile management of stores’ inventory, REWE Systems needed a high-performance solution that could quickly handle large amounts of data.
REWE Systems worked with Viada GmbH & Co. KG, a Red Hat Premier Partner, to find an effective solution. After completing a proof of concept, REWE Systems decided to deploy Red Hat JBoss Enterprise Application Platform (EAP) as the application server for running its new mobile devices and Red Hat JBoss Data Grid as an in-memory data cache.
“We started with an open source solution but switched to Red Hat Data Grid because of its better scalability and because it was easier to use,” said Bukalski. “It was the right choice to use the commercial versions of the products from Red Hat, because it would be difficult for us to have the same stability without their support.”
The company’s German staff now use 25,000 mobile devices in 3,600 stores across the country. These devices process 15 million service calls per day. The mobile devices run an application that assists with various materials management tasks.
REWE’s Red Hat solution runs on premise, managed by REWE Systems’ central IT team in Cologne. Viada completed initial implementation and also provides ongoing support, including biannual reviews. In addition, REWE Systems worked with Red Hat Consulting to troubleshoot configuration of Data Grid.
GREATER STAFF PRODUCTIVITY AND AVAILABILITY
The new mobile devices set up using Red Hat JBoss EAP and Red Hat Data Grid helps staff save time and improve productivity with faster processes, such as checking inventory or reordering stock.
“Previously, our in-store staff might have had to use a computer in a back office 20 times in a day,” said Horia Petzold-Mircea, an IT consultant at REWE Systems. “Now, with the application we’ve built, all of their core work is done with the mobile device while they’re out in the store, saving significant time.”
As a result, staff can spend more of their time out in the store, leading to better customer service. “Increased availability of staff in the store is very important for customers,” said Petzold-Mircea. “Thanks to the mobile devices, if customers have questions there is always someone available nearby to ask.”
ENHANCED INVENTORY MANAGEMENT
The new mobile system helps REWE Systems better manage its stock to improve the freshness of perishable items. “More stock is available, and the freshness of products is better,” said Bukalski. “For example, you can go into a REWE store at 8:00pm on a Saturday and shop for fresh vegetables and fruit.”
The new system also helps REWE stores better monitor and predict demand, reducing the costs of throwing away expired, surplus products every day in its stores.
EASIER SUPPORT AND TROUBLESHOOTING
With Red Hat middleware solutions supporting its mobile application, REWE Systems gained cost-effective access to support from both Red Hat and Viada.
“Overall, we have not had many issues and have stable, fast performance, but support from Red Hat has been very good, such as delivering patches when needed,” said Petzold-Mircea. “It’s also been great working with the Viada team. They’re very hands-on and provide important mentoring and knowledge for our staff. We feel we are working together to reach the same goal.”
“Compared to our previous WebSphere system, the Red Hat solution was lower cost,” said Petzold-Mircea.
In the future, REWE Systems plans to keep its Red Hat solution running on premise to maintain the high performance required for its mobile devices to work effectively. The company also plans to migrate to the next versions of JBoss EAP and Data Grid to continue taking advantage of open source innovation.
„Previously, our in-store staff might have had to use a computer in a back office 20 times in a day. Now, with the application we’ve built, all of their core work is done with the mobile device while they’re out in the store, saving significant time.“
Horia Petzold-Mircea, IT Consultant, REWE Systems GmbH
“We want to keep up to date with the latest technology,” said Bukalski. “Overall, the Red Hat solution is stable and fast, and we and our store staff are very happy with it.”