Nikki Swain, business system and process manager at Massmart, says the company’s original rebate solution application was specifically developed for Massmart some time ago. The system has regularly been updated over the years as different areas of the rebates department required new functionality. Consequently, the system growth was pushed by demand and ended up as a large and unwieldy piece of code.
“In 2005 we therefore decided to replace the rebate solution,” says Swain.
“Although there are commercial applications available, Massmart found that none of them matched our specific requirements for the local market.”
Massmart operates in a very competitive industry. The organisation is a managed portfolio of ten wholesale and retail chains, each focused on high volume, low margin, low-cost distribution of mainly branded consumer goods for cash, through 228 outlets, and one buying association serving 478 independent retailers and wholesalers in 11 countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
Ensuring that its rebate system is operating optimally is therefore a business-critical function handled by a team of over 40 people.
“We have over 30GB of rebate information that has to be analysed and reported on each month,” adds Swain.
“We therefore needed a stable system able to handle the data load quickly and reliably.”
The team currently at Edge Consulting was chosen to create the system according to Massmart’s specifications and to provide support. Edge provides business solutions through a focus on sound ethics, customer obsession and embracing a collaboration perspective.
After investigating the open source solutions proposed – namely the J2EE architecture together with the Java development language, the Linux operating system and the PostgreSQL database – the team was given the go-ahead.
“There is some concern in the market as to whether open source systems can handle business critical computing and whether there are enough skills available to support these systems. Edge has proved to Massmart that it has the skills and capabilities to develop and support open source solutions which customers can rely on,” explains Yusuf Salejee, director of Edge.