AutoZone: Exceeding customer expectations with speed of service
By Shana Pearlman
“Talend is amazing because it’s open, flexible, and visual. The robustness and reliability of Talend have made it an integral part of our solution set. It’s easy to learn and fast to ramp up.”
– Jason Vogel, IT Manager, AutoZone
AutoZone is America’s #1 vehicle solutions provider. It was founded in 1979 and has since expanded to more than 6,400 stores across three countries, with over 96,000 employees. It earns nearly $12 billion in annual revenue and is a Fortune 500 company.
AutoZone’s key mission is to put its customers first. The company serves everyone from everyday consumers and DIY auto enthusiasts to repair shops and other retailers, including dealerships.
For AutoZone, agility is essential. “Repairs are often emergencies,” says Jason Vogel, IT manager for AutoZone. “When your car is out of business, you are out of business. Customers expect to receive their products nearly as fast as they can order them. Parts need to be in stores, but we can’t stock an unlimited amount of every part at every store, so the supply chain is simply critical and must be optimized.”
Amidst these challenges, AutoZone is pursuing an aggressive growth strategy, opening between 50 and 150 stores annually. And it’s accelerating the growth of its commercial business, supporting local repair shops that depend on fast service to get their clients’ cars fixed. Since repair shops have many supplier options, speed is the name of the game for AutoZone, and Vogel sees fast data as the key to success.
Delivering complete, compliant, and timely data to the right people
Over its 40+ years in business, AutoZone has accumulated a massive amount of data ranging from pricing to inventory across 20 different types of databases, thousands of instances, and in many data formats. To bring all of that data together and get it to the people who need it as fast as possible, the company relies on Talend. “We don’t just hand them the data and walk away,” says Vogel. “We need to provide our users the data in a way that they can use it and trust it so that they can drive their analysis and focus on quickly generating important business decisions. This flawless execution through Talend has been critical.”
Getting trustworthy data to the right people at the right time enables AutoZone to serve its customers in countless ways. It provides retail employees the means to instantly locate and provide parts to customers, along with the knowledge of how to install those parts. It optimizes the supply chain to ensure agile, efficient operations, so stores and repair shops always have the parts they need. And it allows AutoZone to provide innovative programs like their Next Day Delivery service, which covers 85% of the US population and lets customers order up to 100,000 parts or products as late as 10 p.m. for delivery the next day. “Talend was an integral part of that Next Day Delivery program,” says Vogel. “We helped provide the data that went into that. It was magnificent and wonderful to be a part of such a highly successful and important solution.”
A 75x increase in order capacity in 2 days
“Reliability is one of the things that makes Talend such a strong solution for us,” notes Vogel. “We have thousands of processes that run every day, all day long, and they have to run reliably and robustly. It’s critical to our business, it’s critical to our users, and it’s critical to our customers.” He recalls a recent challenge where a complex process was not scaling to the level needed. Over the course of 48 hours, Vogel and his team redesigned and rebuilt that process.
The result? A 75x increase in order capacity.
“We went from processing approximately 2,000 records per hour to nearly 5,000 records per minute. We haven’t been able to stress it beyond that because we haven’t had the volume to stress it to that level. We met the SLA and we blew it out of the water. Talend’s ability to visualize what was going on in that system in two days was phenomenal.”
The road ahead
Vogel credits this kind of agility with supporting AutoZone’s growth strategy. “We continue to expand and compete, and the only way we can do that is by accelerating how we develop our systems. Speed of service means that customers are able to get their parts quickly. If they’re able to get their parts quickly, they’re likely to be repeat customers and depend on us. This allows us to further optimize our inventory, to provide operational excellence, and to grow our business and support new stores and regions.” This expansion allows AutoZone to provide even faster service to both consumers and business customers, increasing the company’s revenues and growing its market presence.
In the future, Vogel plans to use Talend to expand real-time processing to do more in less time and get products to customers faster. “We have to continue growing, and the only way to accomplish that is by moving more data, having more insight into how our data is used, and accomplishing it all faster and better. We use Talend to collect, govern, transform, and share our data, and it continually evolves into even better solutions and answers every day.”