The Importance of a Solid Data Vision and Strategy

Ally Feiam By Ally Feiam | 31 Jul 2019

Catch Group is one of the largest online retailers in Australia. As Catch knows, data is a core factor in any retailer’s competitive strategy. We discussed the importance of data management with Dr Liron Nehmadi, Catch’s Chief Product Officer. 

With Wesfarmers’ acquisition of the company in June this year, it’s more apparent than ever that the marketplace requires a solid data management system to keep it on top.  Poplin Data has been working with Catch for two years to formulate a defined data vision and strategy, something that is core to the retailer’s competitive strategies.

In order to unify Catch’s approach to data, Dr Nehmdi knew that the business had to bring itself forward and become the frontrunner in the e-commerce space. Collaborating with Poplin Data, the two have created a scalable data system, meaning every team member at Catch now has the appropriate data insights. This includes a dashboard system, metrics, alerts, etc.

“The ah-ha moment was talking in a language that wasn’t there previously. It has changed the way people see their roles. We now have an ability to have conversations around the business as it happens and make faster decisions,” Dr Nehmadi began. “There are no shortcuts. If you want to solve your data problems, you need to solve it by putting hard work into it. And hard work is not enough because it’s also a complex problem. Poplin Data has the knowledge in order to facilitate, support it, and guide you through the process of getting your data right.”

This collaboration between Catch and Poplin is ongoing, but the pair are not ‘trying to achieve something’, as they’ve already achieved the original goal. “We are in the position that we are maintaining and further building, together,” explained Dr Nehmadi. Catch currently has a state-of-the-art data warehouse system, which is constantly being improved, which is exactly what the company needs to capture the right information so it can continue to drive itself forward.

The partnership is not only a key tool for unifying the e-commerce company, but it’s also instrumental in reducing the consequences of human error. “An example is when a merchandiser made a mistake, and instead of doing a five per cent discount on a set of items, the merchandiser did a 50 per cent discount. Human error. Because we have constant tracking of the value and profit, within two hours of the mistake being made, our system emailed us saying there may be an issue. Because of that, we were able to look into the issue and resolve it,” Dr Nehmadi said.

“Now that we have the right data available we can operate as a real-time business and deliver all sorts of applications related to what people need to get their jobs done. Poplin has changed the way people at Catch Group communicate and collaborate with data. As a company, we now have the capability to have conversations about the business, as it happens,” Dr Nehmadi explained.

As with all things tech and analytics, there are a few barriers to understanding big data, as well as some challenges. “We have all the data,” Dr Nehmadi explained. “The process of engaging the data and structuring the data in the way so that not only can engineers and data scientists can use it, but those with technical capabilities will also be able to use it. So, the challenges are definitely coming in the form of data validation, data structure, data engagement and data scalability.”

It wasn’t an easy start for Dr Nehmadi to get the wheels turning for the data system. “My goal is to become data-driven, rather than stakeholder-driven. One year ago, what Catch decided to do, was figure out who was the loudest voice in the room. You have a lot of stakeholders, a lot of opinions, and basically, the loudest voice in the room is the one who is deciding how it’s going to happen,” Dr Nehmadi said.

Aside from the challenges that face Catch, there are clear benefits of the data management system. “The value of having the data and the way we’re having it now is that all of the stakeholders’ opinions are just opinions. We’re using them as a base to structure our processes and we’re using the data to assess the validity of the processes. This is one of the biggest values that this has given because now we can gain the confidence that you’re working on something that is the right thing to do, and you can project the ROI on your actions,” Dr Nehmadi explained.

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