Abercrombie & Fitch is a leading global apparel and accessories retailer for men, women, and kids through three renowned brands. Merchandise planning for Abercrombie is critical; it’s the art and science of buying product and deciding where to place it across more than 865 global stores and outlets. To determine where to place merchandise, it’s important to accurately interpret customer demand. Abercrombie puts customers and their needs at the center of all they do, and with help from Tableau, they identify key metrics to make sure the right product is available when someone wishes to buy it. Providing a seamless experience between the store and online is first priority to deliver the quality, personal service that customers want.
Timeliness is critical to compete in retail and Abercrombie now better understands its merchandise product sales results, as Tableau Server facilitates nearly 6,000 queries across at least 600 people weekly.
Shifting to Tableau, the company is working to replace at least 80 percent of Excel spreadsheets used for analysis and arrive at product and customer insights faster. The company can now more quickly identify customer purchasing preferences by selling location. With this clarity and visibility, Abercrombie is reducing information silos and strategically moving to a holistic merchandising approach that supports a personalized, top-notch customer experience.
Customer service now has to be the center of everything we do, and we’ve got to be ahead of it before the customer even knows it. And Tableau is really making a difference in getting us there.
Teams have gone from report building to decision making.
Self-service analytics unlocks data exploration with IT support
As early Tableau adopters and Center of Excellence members, Product Facing Solutions (now Enterprise Business Solutions) serves as middlemen between IT and the business. They facilitate effective communication, help drive Tableau adoption and momentum, and work with data scientists to translate data through advanced analytics to achieve business outcomes. Their partnership across groups is shifting the company culture with data-driven decision making and Tableau as a complete enterprise solution. And they’re supported by a devoted team in IT who cleanse the data and ensure it’s consistently up to standards. “Our definition of governance, of how we look at data, has altered in a way. It used to be self-service—get whatever data you want, but we can’t guarantee where it came from—to now building standards and consistency around it,” shares Daniel.
Having data scientists at Abercrombie who also use Tableau with other complementary tools to analyze data and generate insights has enabled projects that started, but needed extra detail, to be completed. “We’ve been able to take good, core work that was done and polish it off in a way to deliver back to the business, so they can easily, intuitively understand what they need to do for their group” notes Daniel.
With data visualization in Tableau and the ability to drill into details, Abercrombie is bringing things full circle so action can be taken and next steps become clearer.
Evolving data culture enhances product development
The company has a line review process that involves collaboration between executives, business group leaders and product teams during a quarterly meeting to map out goals, understand strategic intent, and determine which products are on trend. Leaders used a set of reports during the meeting that analyzed product performance, but they hinged on using other business intelligence tools, pulling data into Excel, and having many people develop packets that were hundreds of pages long. They didn’t reflect up-to-the-minute information. This one-hour meeting required countless hours of preparation and reports proved ineffective when questions asked couldn’t be answered on the spot.
Abercrombie shifted their line review process reports to Tableau. They now prepare for leadership meetings in one-and-a-half days instead of several, and no longer make last-minute changes. With real-time, standard reports, executives and business leaders who want a top-level understanding can effectively act on the data and run the business more efficiently. “Teams have gone from report building to decision making,” explained Daniel.
Response by leadership to Tableau and the line review visualizations has been very positive. Just the amount of information that can be consumed in dashboards versus working in small slices of data created interest and enthusiasm. Staying competitive is a top priority, and with clearer insights in hand, leaders make strategic decisions to keep the brand moving forward successfully.
“We’re moving people off Excel spreadsheets on to things where you can actually create insights much faster and get speed to market on the decisions we’re making across the business,” says Daniel.