Fulfils customer desire for the latest trends with high-performance, cloud-hosted servers.

Soletrader is a premium shoe retailer selling designer brands.

The footwear retailer worked with IBM Platinum Business Partner CSI to deploy cloud-hosted IBM® Power Systems™ servers, enabling core systems to run 50 times faster, and strengthening customer relationships, as shoppers can always find their favourite styles in store or online.

Business Challenge

Soletrader must have the right stock in the right locations at the right times, to satisfy demand for the most desirable footwear. How could it keep customers happy, every time they step into the store?

Risk Free Transformation

Soletrader uses IBM Power Systems servers hosted by CSI to support its mission-critical applications, helping to optimise inventory management, and maintain stock at the most efficient levels.

“With the IBM servers now securely hosted in the CSI data centers, we can rest assured that we have full protection – it certainly helps me sleep easier at night.”

David Bordon, IT Director, Soletrader

Business Benefits:

  • 50 times faster – The substantially faster core systems, enable users to work more productively.
  • Optimises – The new architecture optimises stock levels across stores, meeting customer demand for premium brands.
  • Safeguards – The IT service continuity provides additional safeguards, reducing the risk of interruptions to operations.

Company

Ensuring resilience and security

Twinmar Group, operating under the Soletrader and Sole brand names, is a leading footwear retailer, offering premium and designer brands for men, women and children. Founded in 1963 and headquartered in Hemel Hempstead in the UK, the company retains an online and high street presence, with 50 stores selling the very best labels such as Hugo Boss, Timberland, Burberry and Adidas.

Challenge

Delivering first-rate customer service

When you step into a shoe shop in search of the hottest new brands, you always want to walk out with your preferred size and style. When you’re shopping online, there’s nothing more frustrating than finding the perfect pair, only to see “Out of Stock” when you click to buy. For leading footwear retailer Soletrader, ensuring customers can grab the styles they want is the centrepiece of a long-standing commitment to great service. The company, which trades under the Soletrader and Sole brands, maintains a high-street presence with nearly 50 stores offering the very best international brands, together with many online channels including their primary domain soletrader.co.uk.

Deploying best-in-class, scalable cloud servers

To support its ongoing growth, Soletrader decided to deploy IBM Power Systems servers running the IBM i operating system. The infrastructure is delivered as a cloud service by managed service provider and IBM Platinum Business Partner CSI. The fully hosted service includes round-the-clock monitoring of the IBM solutions by CSI’s technical team.

David Bordon elaborates on the selection process: “We already knew about the exceptional robustness and performance of IBM Power Systems, so there was no question of looking beyond them to another
infrastructure vendor.

“We also had a long-standing relationship with CSI; they previously managed our on-premise servers and have always delivered an outstanding service. When CSI presented in-depth customer references detailing similar cloud deployments, we quickly recognised the significant benefits of moving to the infrastructure-as-a-service model.”

He continues: “IBM Power on Cloud provides the resilience and scale we need. It enables multiple users from across the business to log in to our core inventory, sales, and accounting systems at the same time, without any dip in performance. At the end of each day we’re processing all our sales log files from our multiple retail channels within our IBM i environment. However great the workload, we know the IBM systems can cope.”

Soletrader also engaged CSI to provide ongoing 24/7 support services for its cloud infrastructure. The engagement includes disaster recovery planning, regular backups, hardware upgrades and maintenance, as well as the implementation of a new Office 365 environment to replace Soletrader’s previous Microsoft Exchange mail server.

David Bordon comments: “Any time of the day or night we encounter an issue we can raise a ticket with CSI, and they will deal with the problem promptly, keeping network availability high and our systems running smoothly. We also receive a monthly report documenting systems performance, helping us monitor areas for improvement.”

He adds: “Working with CSI and IBM continues to be an excellent experience. The implementation of the cloud infrastructure was a smooth, seamless process, and we’re already looking ahead to further initiatives around cyber security and optimising the online user experience. Thanks to our rock-solid IBM infrastructure, we’re planning to digitise more of our services.”

Keeping one step ahead of the competition

With cloud-hosted IBM solutions underpinning its critical systems, Soletrader is achieving its goal of business growth through satisfying customer demand with the sharpest new footwear trends.

David Bordon explains: “Compared to our on-premise servers, our core applications now run 50 times faster in our IBM i environment, enabling users to perform valuable tasks quicker and boosting productivity – a fantastic result.

“For example, we have recently focused on improving the efficiency of our warehouse management. Previously, our systems could not cope with the workload demands of rapid development. Now, however, we have the speed and the processing power to support increased development activity. We have built smarter new solutions that help our warehouses run more smoothly.”

The enhanced scalability and performance of the IBM solutions is also enabling Soletrader to analyse more sales and store data, allowing the company to optimise its inventory management.

David Bordon continues: “Checking stock levels across our store locations was a major drain on our resources with our old systems. With the new servers, we can develop new ways of monitoring inventory levels, making it much easier to optimise stock turnover, and ensure we don’t overbuy a particular brand or style. As soon as we see one store where stock is low, we can act fast and transfer stock from another
location – ensuring shoppers can always find the styles they want, and strengthening our customer relationships.”

In addition, the performance and robustness of IBM Power Systems has allowed Soletrader to take on more office staff, performing value-add tasks and contributing to continuous business growth. “We have doubled the number of users and machines on our network,” says David Bordon. “And we couldn’t have done it without the strength of our underlying infrastructure.”

The cloud-hosted servers also boost the level of resilience within Soletrader’s IT setup, with full disaster recovery. “Formerly, our two data center sites were too closely situated to be fully guarded against disaster. With the IBM servers now securely hosted in the CSI data centers, we can rest assured that we have full protection – it certainly helps me sleep easier at night.”

Moving to the managed service model is helping Twinmar achieve valuable time and cost savings, too. With CSI handling all maintenance tasks for the IBM servers, the company no longer has to devote time and resources to lengthy backup and hardware upgrades.

Working with IBM and CSI has been very valuable for our business, and for the level of service we provide to our customers. The move to Power Systems on Cloud has helped us stay agile and keep one step ahead of our rivals in this ultra-competitive market.

Marcel Bordon, CEO, Soletrader

Why CSI?

Finding the optimum infrastructure solution

 

CSI is an award-winning Cloud Services Provider with local, regional and global reach. Helping clients securely take their critical business applications to the cloud.  With a unique mix of cyber security, application software and PowerCloud infrastructure services ensures every step of a client’s journey can be managed.

CSI solves the challenge of migrating large, mission critical workloads into and between cloud environments. Services safely and securely connect client’s legacy, new and emerging applications to the rest of the world.  With over 30 years of managing mission critical applications and underlying platforms means that clients can take the journey to the PowerCloud safely and securely.

Solution components

  • IBM® Power Systems™
  • IBM i