Holiday Market Case Study

When you go into a grocery store, you’re looking for the right product at the right price. That’s what Salient helps us deliver for our customers.

Holiday Market is an employee owned and operated regional grocery store chain with 13 stores in Northern California. Its company headquarters are still on the same street in Cottonwood, California, where it opened for business in 1962.

While Holiday may be smaller than many of its regional and national scale competitors, its challenges in managing and understanding sales, inventories, margins and profits are no less daunting. “In the grocery business, you’re forced to make decisions every day — all based on how much information you have. Whether it’s a good or bad decision, you need to make your best guess,” says CEO Rich Morgan. “In the old days, we used to have only a handful of brands. Now we’re carrying 30,000 SKUs, so we need to know what is selling and not selling.”

The company used to rely on distributors for much of the information it needed, “but that’s not timely and their accuracy is suspicious,” says Morgan. And the tools Holiday eventually deployed to capture information provided no way to mine the data and run queries.

So in 2006, the company installed Margin Minder® sales analytics software from Salient.

Now, Morgan and all of Holiday’s buying staff and store managers use Margin Minder on a daily basis to get instant answers to questions such as:

  • What is selling or not selling?
  • Which buys are working, which are not and how does that compare to the past?
  • Will raising a price affect sales? If so, how?
  • How many units do we have and which SKUs do we have too much of?
  • What are true carrying costs of inventory?
  • Are customers’ tastes changing?
  • How do sales compare to last week, last season, last promotion?

“Some answers are common sense,” Morgan says. “But with Margin Minder, we can also see the un-obvious, which gives us a competitive advantage.”

Speed, Ease and Scalability

Morgan says he finds much to like in Margin Minder, starting with speed. “It’s very fast. I can usually do queries in seconds.” Yet, as he tells it, immediate response is not what most BI users are accustomed to. “I thought it was funny that in an industry survey of business intelligence systems, the fastest report turnaround time was ‘1 hour.’ With Margin Minder, I get frustrated if our most complicated report takes 20 seconds.”

“It’s one of the easiest systems you’ll ever use,” he continues. “I like that as CEO, I can use the product without being at the mercy of someone else. Everything is at hand for me. I can get answers to my questions when thinking about them.” The answers themselves often lead to new ideas to think about and new questions to ask. “The biggest thing about reviewing data,” Morgan says, “is that you think you knew what you wanted to know, but you don’t until you get into it. Margin Minder allows you to keep asking questions. After you get an answer, you want more. Margin Minder lets you keep going and going. You can ask the second, third and fourth question.” One way that Margin Minder expands the range of answerable questions is by integrating as many data sources as users want to add. For example, Morgan says that Holiday intends to add weather data so that managers can finally measure the impact of weather on sales.

No Canned Reports

Holiday also values Margin Minder’s flexible reporting capability. “I like that you don’t get canned reports,” Morgan says. “Most inventory systems that I’ve seen want to hang a reporting system on the back end, but that’s usually terrible and slow. And they’re more often an IT driven system than a user driver system, like Margin Minder.” Reporting flexibility allows Holiday to use Margin Minder to produce accounting reports, and incorporate the value of inventory in calculating gross profit. Morgan says when he shows his reports to suppliers, “their jaws drop, they’re amazed. They come to see us with reports that are old and they had to have printed by an IT person.”

Designed for Retail

“Salient gets the retail business,” says Morgan. “They understand why I’m asking the questions and what matters to me.”

“For us, it’s all about selling products. Margin Minder helps you make decisions, which you wouldn’t do otherwise. Once you start using it, you’ll use it more than anything else.”