e-Commerce Improves Use of Valyoo-able Data with Tableau
Valyoo, a New Delhi-headquartered e-commerce company, specializes in category-specific online shopping destinations. Valyoo currently maintains four sites: LensKart for optical products; WatchKart for quality time pieces; BagsKart for purses and bags; and JewelsKart for jewelry. All of Valyoo’s sites have experienced rapid growth in the past year.
A data-driven company from the beginning, Valyoo wanted to increase its reporting efficiency, help managers make decisions faster, and keep up with increased reporting demands without hiring additional staffers.
Show Me the Numbers
Since its inception in 2010, Valyoo management has been focused on the numbers. And they credit that focus with helping to drive the company’s amazing success—Valyoo has grown from roughly 100 employees to 500 in little more than a year.
In early 2012, the analytics team was using Access and Excel to meet reporting needs—and Nikhil Doegar, Head of Business Intelligence & Analytics for Valyoo could see that demand would quickly outstrip what his five-person team could produce using these tools.
“In a company growing at 20, 30 percent month over month, if managers were to keep depending on the analytics team to build them data, by the time they got the data it would be very late,” Doegar says.
“Like any e-commerce company, we have a lot of data. As an analytics team, it's very difficult when every time somebody has a requirement, you have to go into the database, pull out data, and then create something for them and send it to them.”
For a typical request, for example, the team would pull data out of the Microsoft SQL Server database and then create pivot tables in Excel. He estimates that his team spent approximately four hours per day building these repeated reports with fresh data.
In general, Valyoo is a very data-driven company. “The culture is such that they want to see all the numbers,” explains Doegar. “When management looks at reports, they are really focused on seeing the actual, absolute numbers.”
For example, the company closely watches Google Analytics data to understand its customers’ behavior on-site. The faster the analytics team could process the data and report on it, the sooner senior leadership at the company could make strategic decisions. While the team got this information out as soon as possible, Doegar knew the manual process could be improved.
Looking for a Better Way
Doegar began his search for a better solution, and he had a very clear idea of his requirements.
“Our goal was to get an automated tool which firstly would help users to get the data real-time without having to come to the analytics team. Secondly, to make users able to visually understand the data and not just have an Excel sheet or a data dump in front of them. And third, each department in our company depends a lot on data. So we have to be able to develop a dedicated dashboard for each team where they can look at the data and have everything to help them make decisions going forward.”
In addition to Tableau, Valyoo considered QlikView from QlikTech.
“We evaluated both QlikView and Tableau. We used the Tableau 14-day trial and we thought it was easier to implement and it fulfilled all our requirements,” says Doegar. “We just tried to replicate some reports which we already had in Excel. It worked pretty well—it refreshed automatically, no one had to spend time pulling data and refreshing it.”
The team is using Tableau Desktop to author its visual reports; Valyoo is using Tableau Server to more easily share interactive data visualizations. The company trialed Tableau 7 but quickly migrated to Tableau 8 when it was released a month after the initial purchase. Most of the company’s reporting has been developed in Tableau 8.
All in all, Doegar found the migration straight-forward. “There were some initial settings and things which obviously we did not know, but then the sales partners in India, Corporate Renaissance Group (CRG), helped us set it up. It was a fairly easy process, not very difficult,” he says.
As an e-commerce company, the biggest feature which has helped us is Tableau’s integration with Google Analytics. I’m sure it’s helpful in many other industries as well, but it is our bread and butter. Having Google Analytics information integrated with our BI tool is a big thing for us—it helps us figure out who are the people buying and who are the people not buying, and if they're not buying, what is the reason for that.
“It’s Our Bread and Butter”
“As an e-commerce company, the biggest feature which has helped us is Tableau’s integration with Google Analytics,” says Doegar. “I’m sure it’s helpful in many other industries as well, but it is our bread and butter. Having Google Analytics information integrated with our BI tool is a big thing for us—it helps us figure out who are the people buying and who are the people not buying, and if they're not buying, what is the reason for that.”
Doegar says that his team is using the Google Analytics direct connector “quite a bit.” And he notes that while they see opportunities for future improvement, the team is finding Google Analytics with Tableau to be much more efficient than the prior Excel-based method.
Doegar is pleased that any visualizations his team produces through Tableau include the ability to drill-down into the raw data.
“The underlying data, the ability to look at that is used quite a lot in our company,” says Doegar. “Users are looking a lot at the data behind the graphs and behind the cross-tabs.”
In fact, Doegar says that Valyoo has been able to further propagate its existing data-driven culture through Tableau.
“We would never make our decision without the data. But Tableau has made it all that easier to get that data,” says Doegar. “Even if we were not using Tableau we would still be focused on the data, but maybe it would have taken longer to make the same decisions, or it would just be harder to get that data.”
This has allowed managers to be more self-sufficient as well.
“Managers within the company are now more independent in terms of making data decisions,” says Doegar. “They do not have to depend on the analytics team or the business intelligence team to support them in terms of data; we create a dashboard for them and then they are fairly self-reliant.”
Tableau has helped the team continue to support the rapidly-growing company while remaining quite small.
“In terms of Tableau helping us to support 500 people—it's about the bandwidth of the team. If the tool wasn't right today, the analytics team might be a 20-people team just to support the business. But today we are able to do that with four or five people,” he says.
“You Can Start Focusing on the Right Items and Stop Focusing on the Others”
Another distinct improvement is the automatic refresh capabilities in Tableau Server, which has enabled Valyoo to automate many standard reports that used to take half the day to re-build with new data.
“We keep putting our reports over there (on Tableau Server) and users keep refreshing. We do our work on Desktop, publish reports, and Tableau Server does the rest for us,” says Doegar. “We've been able to save about four and a half hours per day in employee hours.”
Over a typical month, that means that the analytics team is seeing a savings of more than 90 hours.
Additionally, business users save, on average, an hour a day thanks to Doegar’s team’s ability to provide access to updated data.
“Managers within the company are now more independent in terms of making data decisions,” says Doegar. “They do not have to depend on the analytics team or the business intelligence team to support them; we create a dashboard for them and then they are fairly self-reliant. “
“They are able to focus more on the strategic decisions instead of having to run around to trying to get the data themselves,” says Doegar.
The analytics team is able to get daily data to decision makers faster now, too. “We can see data earlier in the day—at least two hours sooner, on average” says Doegar. And the analytics team is not only providing data earlier, but the quantity and quality of the data has improved, all of which helps Valyoo leadership drive towards continued success.
“Once you know what is selling, then you can start focusing the right items and you stop focusing on the others. So it helps a lot,” Doegar says.