Agri retailer goes hi-tech

27 November 2019 | Web Article Number: ME201917274

Agriculture & Sugar
Business Tech
ICT In Industry
Transport, Distribution & Logistics

DIGITAL consulting firm Decision Inc. is in the process of implementing a Microsoft data warehouse at the Kaap Agri group to optimise how it manages its data.

JSE-listed Kaap Agri specialises in retail and trade in agricultural, fuel, and related retail markets in Southern Africa. It employs over 3 000 people and has a footprint of 200 business units across South Africa and Namibia, which includes the retail trading brand Agrimark.

Other trading divisions include grain storage, handling and agency services, a packaging material supplier and distributor, as well as a manufacturer of agricultural irrigation products. The company’s retail fuel operations are grouped within The Fuel Company (TFC), which also operates the forecourt convenience brand, Expressmark.

In support of its growth objectives, Kaap Agri acquired several businesses over recent years. With digital transformation a key strategic focus area, the group also invested in new systems to optimise the business. Therefore, Kaap Agri needed to find an effective way of consolidating its data.

To this end, the company was looking for a data warehouse offering that could do this and integrate the data from multiple sources to meet their business intelligence (BI) and business analytics requirements.

“We needed to optimise our processes and build on the wealth of historical data available to the organisation. With a data warehouse, it would be faster to move to self-service BI because the data is centralised,” said Corrie Stadler, BI Manager at Kaap Agri. “Following a presentation from Decision Inc., we decided to select them as our service provider given how they would be able to cost-effectively assist us with a phased implementation of a Microsoft data warehouse solution.”

According to Stadler, this phased approach would align with the roadmap of the organisation and be the most resource-effective way of managing the migration given the budgetary constraints on the project.

“The service levels Decision Inc. provided us were amazing. One of the requirements was to work with a strategic service provider that could deliver on more than one focus area for us. Given their expertise across data warehousing, BI, and customer relationship management, to name a few, it certainly has been the right company to work with.”

Even though the data warehouse is still being rolled out, it has already been delivering on the expectations of Kaap Agri.

“To date, the process has been very straightforward. From the first presentation to gradually implementing what we needed to get up and running took a matter of months. An important part of this process has also been skills transfer to ensure our employees are comfortable in using the system and making it sustainable for us in the future. Decision Inc. has assisted well in this regard.

“By integrating three different business units into one financial system it has resulted in a 30% improvement in the time it takes us to extract data from our systems. Using the Microsoft solution, we can more effectively pull data into the data warehouse, manipulate it, and optimise stock,” Stadler said.

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