Top-Notch-Distribution-case study

Stelo Creates Real-time Capability Delivering a Substantial Increase in Sales

Top Notch sells a wide selection of residential and commercial electronic access control products, parts, and accessories. Their inventory consists of over half a million products, parts, and accessories from more than 60 manufacturers. Products are available for same-day shipping from one of four warehouses throughout the US.

Although it was possible for distributors and customers to view their account and purchase history from Top Notch’s e-store, they rarely did so, as the site was not always able to display accurate inventory levels. Therefore, an excessive amount of time was spent checking inventory levels. The company has a SQL-based e-commerce site, with sales, inventory, and business data residing on an IBM for i (formerly iSeries) with ERP software, InFor.

"I’m an SQL guy, not an AS400 guy. Other vendors we checked into were not able to easily upload data into the AS400 like Stelo can. Now, changes are implemented in minutes, without a load on the AS400."
Jon Fehringer

IT Manager


All departmental reports were run nightly with SSIS packages pulling data from the iSeries, but the reporting data was always a day removed from business activities. Top Notch needed a way to make real-time reporting available via their e-commerce store without relying on IBM for i resources. As Jon Fehringer, IT Manager explains, “Ultimately, if we could bring data on the [IBM for i] in real-time to SQL, we could power our website and not put any additional load on our [IBM for i].”


After a successful initial trial in a test environment, Top Notch now uses Stelo to move data in real-time from the IBM for i ERP program into SQL reporting tools to populate a dynamic e-store with up-to-the-second inventory. Stelo’s bi-directional replication means that Top Notch now can send order data from the SQL website to the IBM for i, accessing the latest inventory counts.

Building reports on an IBM for i requires specialized knowledge requiring scarce IT resources. However, with Stelo, data now moves seamlessly into SQL reporting tools so all departments have access to the information they most need without calling on IT. Top Notch employees can run the reports in SQL, giving them much more information and insight at any given time.

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Modernized E-Commerce

Site traffic doubled, and e-commerce sales from their online store increased dramatically.


Time Saved

The IT team reduced time spent on reporting and data issues by 10-20%.


Real-Time Access

Data access is instantaneous, improving customer service and saving time on order processing. 


Business Dashboards Icon_Noun 2956753_White Business has Increased Dramatically

Since implementing a dynamic online store, Top Notch has seen tremendous e-commerce growth. “Site traffic has doubled since launching our new site. Also, customers now have the ability to see their account information, orders, and invoices. Stelo – it’s as real-time as it gets,” says Fehringer.

Real-Time Data_Noun 4636076_White Real-Time Replication Means Data You Can Trust

With Stelo, Top Notch now has the capability to refresh SQL reports in real time, giving employees an accurate view of current business from all sides. Fehringer says, “if you want a map on the screen showing where the orders are coming from, we can use that data from the [IBM for i] in SQL instantly as opposed to pulling data from the [IBM for i] nightly and being a day behind.”

Near-Zero Footprint Icon_Noun 1465960_White Small Footprint

Typical IBM for i reporting tools can be complicated and deplete IBM for i processing power, but because Stelo employs existing data logs to report changes, the process does not compete for resources on the IBM for i. With Ultra Thin-Server™ processing and lightning-fast data transfer, the IT department does not have to worry about taking up space or processing power on the IBM for i. 

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