“I'd be cutting and pasting by three or four lines at a time. It was tedious. I had to check my work two or three times.”
Hall would go through this intensive data-gathering effort only a few times per year.
For example, Hall points out that while he technically could have gathered the data to manage a promotion as it was ongoing, the amount of time required to do so made the idea unreasonable. Even the process of choosing products to promote was a left to instinct and experience.
Finding a New Solution
In early 2013, Kilwins’ CFO suggested that Hall look at Tableau Software. Hall downloaded a trial in July and quickly realized that he could remove a significant amount of manual data wrangling with Tableau.
Kilwins purchased a license for Tableau Desktop and as well as a Tableau Consulting engagement.
“By the time September came around—and with the help of Janet, my Tableau Consultant—I had a standard workbook created. I could put together a good feel of where our sales were coming from by product category, right down to the item level,” says Hall.
Since then, Hall has created several other workbooks to answer other questions.
He can update his data by simply running a new data extract; the entire refresh takes approximately 45 minutes. Hall notes that he can work on other priorities while the extract runs.
“It’s really simple”
Today, Kilwins is able to plan its promotions using data, rather than instinct. “Now we have the talent onboard to help us visualize what our ideas are and because we've got a lot more access to the data quickly, we know how to build out the promotion,” says Hall. “The stores are a lot more colorful now.”
For example, during a recent promotional planning meeting, Hall needed to identify the top-selling items within the Tuttle line. He estimates that finding the answer in Tableau took two minutes.
“Now we know what collateral to build for the stores. Before it would have taken up to eight hours to do that, and now it's literally minutes, if not seconds. It’s really simple,” he says.
Executives also have much better insight into ongoing performance with on-the-fly insight into current sales data through Tableau.
“Every two weeks we have a standing meeting that is based on seasonal promotions, I'll be in the meeting and somebody will ask a question—like how many nutcrackers have we sold—and I'll just pull up the data for how that product did,” says Hall.