Founded in 2013, carwow is a unique online platform for consumers that takes the frustration out of buying new cars from franchised dealers in the UK, Germany and Spain. It uses the reverse marketplace model, which removes the need for buyers to negotiate with car sellers directly. Instead, they can choose the car they want on carwow and receive competitive offers directly from dealers. Headquartered in London, the company employs 220 staff across three countries.
carwow recently completed a major data infrastructure overhaul that saw its legacy data warehouse and BI tools replaced with a combination of Snowflake, Fivetran and Tableau. This flexible new approach to data has yielded a wealth of benefits including faster time to insight, greater scalability and lower costs, along with a much better understanding of customer behaviour at a granular level. As a result, carwow is perfectly positioned to continue its current growth trajectory as it looks to expand into new territories around the world.
Tableau’s visualisation capabilities are what made it really stand out from the competition. Not only could we create fast, accurate reports right from the start, but the highly visual approach added a new, exciting dimension to data analysis that simply didn’t exist before.
Time to insight cut 30% by centralising data sources
Data has played a pivotal role in carwow’s business model from day one, but as the company grew, it found its original data systems were struggling to cope with the extra demand being placed on them. Not only were important system syncs taking longer to perform but increasing fragmentation of data sources and a lack of standardised analytics/reporting tools was causing confusion amongst employees and making it hard to identify important business insights quickly.
“We needed to simplify operations, switch off unnecessary tools and implement a central data platform that could easily scale alongside the company as it continues to grow,” says Tim Hesse, Director of Data at carwow.
This began with the migration of all company data to Snowflake and Fivetran, simplifying data management and greatly improving processing speed.
“Snowflake’s flexibility and our ability to dedicate warehouses to ETL and reporting tasks vastly improved our BI processes. This was a significant early factor in accelerating our speed to insight,” says Tim.
Next, Tim trialled several analytics platforms to complete the stack, quickly identifying Tableau as the ideal solution for the company’s needs.
“Tableau’s visualisation capabilities are what made it really stand out from the competition,” says Tim. “Not only could we create fast, accurate reports right from the start, but the highly visual approach added a new, exciting dimension to data analysis that simply didn’t exist before.”
With the new data stack in place, all 220 employees are now working from a single source of truth for the first time, eliminating data silos and cutting time to insight by an average of 30 percent. Governance is controlled via Tableau permissions, giving everyone fast, convenient access to the information they need whilst ensuring sensitive data remains secure.
“With Tableau, everything is done inside the platform and governed through a central certified & published data source,” says Tim. “As a result, data analytics and reporting have become fast, convenient and more secure. Furthermore, everyone can be confident they are looking at the same information now, rather than having five different versions of a report or spreadsheet flying around on email and causing confusion.”
We’ve always been obsessed with customer behaviour and for the first time we can truly indulge that obsession. Prior to Tableau we were spending a lot of time on predictions, which always comes with a degree of guesswork. Now everything is much more factual, right down to the finest details, which is much more valuable to the business.
Understanding of customer buying behaviour on a much more granular level
carwow’s business is founded on a comprehensive understanding of customer buying behaviour and Tableau has allowed the company to take this to a whole new level of granularity.
“The average customer takes around 60 days to buy a car, so it’s quite a long purchase journey,” says Tim. “With Tableau, we’re able to track their behaviour on our website at every stage and really understand the key thought processes that go into the final purchasing decision.”
This information can then be presented back to the business in clear, interactive dashboards and visualisations that are tailored to their target audience.
“We’ve created a variety of views in Tableau that allow different levels of the business to quickly see the information they need to make informed decisions and tailor activity accordingly,” says Tim. “This ranges from high-level business stats aimed at senior executives, through to detailed customer trends and insights for our sales and marketing guys, broken down by day, year and season, helping them fine-tune future campaigns for maximum effectiveness.”
The combination of Tableau, Snowflake and Fivetran means data within the dashboards are updated every day, so employees know they always have the latest information at their fingertips.
“We’ve always been obsessed with customer behaviour and for the first time we can truly indulge that obsession,” says Tim. “Prior to Tableau we were spending a lot of time on predictions, which always comes with a degree of guesswork. Now everything is much more factual, right down to the finest details, which is much more valuable to the business.”
As we look to expand into new territories in the near future, this data driven approach will not only smooth the road ahead, but ensure we’re perfectly positioned to hit the ground running in every market we enter.
Data-driven approach creates an empowered workforce and smooth market expansion
The creation of a consistent central data source has also started to drive a powerful new data culture, with many employees now self-serving their own data needs instead of relying on the central data team.
“Before, everyone would come to us for all their analytics needs, but now people are realising that it’s a lot quicker and easier to do it themselves in Tableau,” says Tim. “If the sales guys want to know how many potential customers visited the website between 4-6pm last Saturday, they can pull that information up in just a few clicks, making their jobs easier and saving us valuable time.”
Tim and his team also hold regular in-house Tableau training sessions to further encourage adoption throughout the company.
“The Spanish team have just come on board, which is becoming transformational for them,” says Tim. “As we look to expand into new territories in the near future, this data-driven approach will not only smooth the road ahead but ensure we’re perfectly positioned to hit the ground running in every market we enter.”