SAS CEO Shares Perspectives on Retail


The SAS Institute Inc., which is celebrating 30 years in business and is on its way to reaching $2 billion in revenue, is making a big push into the retail marketplace with its business intelligence and performance management solutions.

Dr. Jim Goodnight, co-founder and CEO of the Cary, NC-based software company, took time yesterday to share some of his perspectives with Apparel.

Goodnight, a former North Carolina State University educator with a doctorate in statistics, said SAS is seeing "a real uptake" in interest in retail price optimization technology. Price optimization and apparel size optimization solutions have the potential to improve a retailer's performance by millions of dollars, he said.

Kohl's, which uses SAS technology, has received kudos from Wall Street analysts for its success in leveraging technology such as size optimization software to improve its financial performance.

Goodnight said SAS solutions could help apparel retailers predict selling trends by SKU at the store level, which involves analyzing a tremendous amount of data.

Retailers are realizing that they have to stop trying to plan assortments and do forecasts "by hand or with spreadsheets," he said.

On the subject of RFID, Goodnight said he believes a lot of companies are waiting to see what happens with the technology, and for chip prices to come down. There was an initial flurry of interest after Wal-Mart announced its major RFID agenda, he said, but then other companies seemed to back off from establishing their own RFID plans.

Goodnight said SAS is working with some clients on RFID applications, and noted that managing RFID data is not much different than working with information generated from barcodes. "The amount of data in the world is doubling every year anyway -- what's a few more billion RFID numbers?" he said.

He said the use of the next generation of RFID technology, which is capable of tracking a product's history, could be more meaningful to businesses.

Kathleen DesMarteau is editor in chief of Apparel. She can be reached at 864-627-0276 or [email protected].

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