Primark is an international retailer that offers the latest fashion, beauty, and homeware at the best value on the high street; put simply, Amazing Fashion at Amazing Prices.
High volumes and lean operations
The global Primark business model is based on delivering high sales volumes at lower retail margins. This is achieved by buying in vast quantities and keeping overheads to a minimum, thereby enabling Primark’s customers to save costs.
Delivering quality, up-to-the-minute designs at value-for-money prices demands sharp focus on combining the latest fashions with lean operations to satisfy Primark's customers in a competitive market that is undergoing significant changes in consumer spending patterns as increasing numbers of purchases move from in-store to online.
Primark's investments in exciting retail destinations will underperform if customers cannot rely on the availability of quality, fashionable clothing due to delays in stock allocations, management, and fulfilment.
In order to deliver on that promise, Primark depends on stock management, ordering, reporting, and their central data processing system. These systems are essential for the efficient overnight processing of stock and sales data to facilitate the daily allocation, ordering, dispatch, and delivery of stock, and to provide crucial reporting to the business.
Primark’s ordering systems rely on end-of-day data supplied from stores, depots, shipping agents, and other third parties to present an accurate view of available stock. It is essential that all data is available at the correct time to ensure overnight processing can be completed before stores begin placing orders early in the morning.
The time and business criticality of the processing performed each night necessitates 24/7 support of the systems to ensure any issues can be resolved promptly, protecting the processing window, and ensuring stores can place orders.
Key information used in the overnight processing is entered by Primark users during regular business hours. This information affects which stock is available and can be ordered by the stores as well as the allocation of stock to specific stores. It is therefore essential to ensure the availability and seamless performance of Primark’s systems during business hours as well as to quickly resolve any issues that may arise.
Daily reporting from the reporting system is also crucial to the business as it provides the information necessary to accurately plan and allocate the stock. It is essential for all data to be available on time to ensure key daily reporting can be completed.
Primark’s technical landscape is varied, and their systems require a range of competencies to provide the support and maintenance required to ensure system availability. Objectivity’s team of 30+ experienced support engineers is able to provide support for various technologies—from Unix to Java or .NET-based solutions to modern low-code web-based applications as well as complex database and BI solutions like MS SQL, Teradata, or Tableau.
Delivering continuous improvements as a partner
Since their partnership began in 1991, the Objectivity team has been helping Primark to design, develop, support, and maintain the critical systems that gather, process, reconcile, and analyse their daily stock and sales data, during the company’s unprecedented period of growth. At first, the Objectivity team supported basic development. However, as a result of close cooperation with Primark’s team and their many third-party vendors, the company asked Objectivity to take on a greater amount of responsibility.
The Objectivity team currently provides first, second, and third-line 24/7 support and maintenance services, which include:
- Applying ITIL best practices to ensure systems are able to meet changing business needs through continual service improvement, thereby also rendering Primark’s operations fast and lean.
- Resolving issues and introducing new functionalities in close cooperation with all teams.
- Ensuring proper system capacity and performance for nearly 30 years, while Primark experiences constant business growth, especially during peak periods.
- Proactively identifying issues and service improvements, resolving issues raised by users, and deploying optimisations and enhancements for critical back-office systems.
- Operating 24/7 hotlines, running proactive monitoring and issue resolution, developing automated alerting and remediation tools as a direct interface to Primark's internal Service Desk, supporting quick fixes across a range of internal and third-party systems.
- Monitoring and managing system processing during the night to ensure systems open on time.
- Providing advice and expertise on issues that affect systems outside the team’s scope of responsibility.
Additionally, the Objectivity team developed automated monitoring and alerting dashboards for the systems capable of alerting of any down time, processing delays, or unexpected behaviour (which would otherwise have an impact on overnight processing or end user system availability). Moreover, this enabled the team to take preventative action, ensuring that issues are identified, investigated, and resolved.
The Objectivity team extended monitoring and alerting to include third-party interfaces, ensuring that any missing, invalid, or corrupt data is identified as early as possible. This allows third parties to resolve issues without impacting the processing.
High quality of service resulting in the right stock at the right place, at the right time
The Objectivity team consistently exceeds Primark’s SLA and KPI targets, ensuring high availability of over 99.8% on average, across all supported systems—thereby, ensuring that Primark’s stores are able to place orders and manage prices reliably and on time.
All high priority incidents raised in 2019 received a response within target times, and over 98% of issues were resolved within target times.
Since the start of the companies’ technical partnership, dating back to 1991, Objectivity team’s proactive and collaborative approach to support and maintenance has reduced incidents, as Primark’s operations have continued to grow. Together, the teams have delivered a consistent reduction in service-related callouts, resulting in greater system stability and availability—thereby, supporting Primark’s goal of lean operations and high quality of service.
As a result of continuous service improvement and enhancement, Primark’s systems continue to support the evolving needs of a growing business. As the data volume processed by the systems increases with time and the company grows, Primark continues to achieve excellent results through process optimisation. The Objectivity team has addressed Primark’s need to operate longer business hours and to render their operations more efficient by reducing overnight batch processing by up to 28% and the generation of critical reports by up to 63%.
The Objectivity team helps to ensure that the systems’ complex and interdependent pieces work together seamlessly—enabling Primark to meet their customers’ needs each time they visit the store.
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