Groupon saves days on reporting time with Tableau

Groupon is an online retailer, specializing in local and global deals. To keep business fresh, the product team runs hundreds of A/B tests across web and mobile. Data is key to making the right decisions about site placement and merchandising. Groupon needed a tool that could bring all of this consumer data into one place, with the ability to share insights across the whole company.

Groupon is an e-commerce company with a mission to empower the consumer while supporting local merchants across the globe.

With Tableau, Groupon makes decisions about website structure, merchandising, and mobile optimization. The product team combines all of this data into an interactive visualization that summarizes performance—allowing the team to see an overall view or drill down into a particular experiment. Report preparation that used to take up to three days is complete within a day.

Today, Groupon's Tableau Server environment contains hundreds of dashboards and Meghna Suresh, Product Manager says that "people always want more [Tableau]."

Tableau: How important is data to Groupon?
Meghna Suresh, Product Manager: Being in the online retail business, placement is really everything. And it's very interesting because you can draw a lot of parallels to a brick and mortar retail business in which, when you think about walking into any big-box store in America, say Target or Walmart, you walk in the store. There are certain things that are merchandised at the front of the store. There are other things that are merchandised towards the back.

We think about placement on the site in a very similar way. So it's what goes front and center on our homepage? How big should we make the search bar? Should we have a map on our browse page when people are looking for local deals? We use data to pretty much inform every decision that we make.

Tableau: How are you using Tableau to visualize data and guide those decisions?
Meghna By using data and being able to visualize it with Tableau in creative ways, we're really able to come up with what the optimal placement and layout of our site should be and how does that look different for every customer? And so it really informs every aspect of the customer experience.

On the product side, we made a ton of changes to what we merchandise and where on the site. And also, we run A/B tests all the time. So being able to measure and dissect these A/B tests is one thing that's been really, really valuable to us in Tableau.

We're running hundreds of these things at any given time across our website and mobile apps and our touch site. Just being able to look at one visualization that summarizes all of the performance of different experiments, and then being able to drill down into not only how is this experiment doing, but is it working better for one segment of our users than another? It literally informs almost everything customers see on the site on a daily basis.

By using data and being able to visualize it with Tableau in creative ways, we're really able to come up with what the optimal placement and layout of our site. It really informs every aspect of the customer experience.

Tableau: What has been the reaction to Tableau?
Meghna I would say people always want more. And I think that was a big part of how Tableau even became this big enterprise-wide solution at Groupon that it's become.

If you log into Groupon's Server environment, you'll just see hundreds and hundreds of dashboards. And that's primarily how people interact with it. I think that's the nice thing, we used to be in a phase where we had to e-mail files around, and now you can just click on a URL and it takes you straight to what you're supposed to be looking at. So that's just made it really easy for us.

Tableau: What impact has Tableau had at Groupon?
Meghna I would say it's increased productivity a lot, because people used to engage in a lot of manual reporting activities before that are now automated with Tableau.

We’ve got all of these weekly meetings that analysts would routinely spend a lot of time preparing for in the past. If the meeting was on Wednesday, it would take all day Monday and Tuesday to prepare for that meeting. And now I'm seeing people are able to actually meet on the data and start discussing it on Monday afternoon.

When people are able to start out with that common base of knowledge, and when that common base of knowledge is so visual, highly interactive, and easy to slice and dice, you can just cut to the chase and get to the decision-making. That's what's really simplified and democratized this process for us.

Tableau: Are you seeing any other benefits since implementing Tableau?
Meghna If you were to quantify the cost savings from people not having to spend three days on a task that now takes just half a day, I'm sure those would add up and be huge. But we haven't actually gone out and tried to do it, although that would be a great idea.

Tableau: What data sources do you connect to?
Meghna There are people that probably exclusively use Excel as the data source of choice. I personally tend to hook directly into our data warehouse wherever possible. It creates more automated and streamlined reporting and analysis.

There are also integrations that you can do with Hadoop and R. I've seen people across the company use those as well. I think that's a really exciting phase of Tableau's product development is all of the different data sources that you can connect to.

Tableau: How has Tableau streamlined data analysis across Groupon?
Meghna Before, people tended to sort of go off and do more sort of ad-hoc analysis. With a Tableau solution like this one, and many other reporting solutions we have around our products, people are able to come to one common source of truth.

That really makes a difference because when you're sitting in a meeting, everyone at least agrees on the numbers, right? In a lot of contexts, you've got instances where people are actually coming from a different base of knowledge. And you first have to reconcile that before you can actually get to the real conversation of what should I place on the home page and what should I place on this other page?

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