In Navigating Change in Crisis, we explore how individuals and companies are adapting to a “new normal.” Learn how organizations, dev teams, and frontline users are adjusting to meet these challenges of our radically altered world.
Pets Corner, part of the Pet Family group, is the second largest pet retailer in the UK. Specializing in pet products of all kinds, Pets Corner has grown substantially over the last 10 years. During that time, they’ve faced challenges both expected (data volumes growing as the business grew) and not (a UK-wide lockdown, in addition to various temporary store closures). Getting smarter about data and how it is used has allowed Pets Corner to be more agile and make the right decisions at the right times to thrive in challenging retail and wider commercial conditions. YourDMS, powered by Truth BI, helped them to clean up, combine, and utilize their data more effectively by implementing the Sisense business intelligence (BI) platform.
The problem: Too much data, too little insight
Pet Family had used various BI platforms over the years, but were not getting the results they wanted. Previous systems were difficult to use and often required help from third-party suppliers to extract reports, wasting time and money. As data volumes grew, the accuracy and integrity of these datasets become of paramount concern along Pet Family’s analytics journey. CFO Iain Dougal and his various teams required oversight across the entire business on a platform that was accurate, agile, and reliable.
“I had a fear that some of the decisions we were making could have been made better or sooner with an improvement in the information I had at hand,” Iain explained.
With ambitious plans for growth and development, Pet Family needed to ensure it could act quickly, allocate budget and resources where needed, and continue to make the best decisions for the business.
How YourDMS and Truth deliver insights
YourDMS and Truth implemented the Sisense BI platform to provide Pet Family with oversight of its entire operation. Iain also wanted to improve access to data across the organization, ensuring that employees throughout the business could easily view, analyze, and use real-time data, regardless of their technical ability.
Extensive cleansing and testing of data have improved accuracy, and Pet Family now have peace of mind that the Sisense dashboard accurately reflects what is happening in the business.
“If your data is incorrect, you’re going to make the wrong decision,” said Iain.
Building trust in the accuracy of their data and the Sisense system was a crucial step in encouraging departments to adopt Sisense in favor of spreadsheets and manual processes.
In accounting, the finance team uses Sisense to report monthly management information across the group. Originally, the team would gather information from multiple systems, then check, validate, and reconcile before formatting it to be shared within the wider management team. With help from YourDMS and Truth, the process has been streamlined with management information now built and delivered throughout the month. Reducing the number of human touchpoints and Excel spreadsheets from different departments in the process has not only improved accuracy but also seen an improvement in the bottom line.
Sisense is also being used by the finance team and management to track live sales with forecasted revenues, which is an essential KPI for the business. Sales information is immediate, analysis is undertaken in real time, and decisions follow.
In procurement, saving time on reporting has allowed the team to focus fully on further developing new products, improving the supply chain, and performing other tasks that will generate revenue for the business. They are using Sisense to see how products and promotions are performing and can share this useful data with suppliers as part of a supply chain analytics program.
YourDMS and Truth have combined data from the ERP system with external data to allow Pet Family to make decisions in addition to sales and purchasing. They now include data that can have an effect on sales, such as seasonal variation data and weather data. Sisense also allows them to add other useful reference information or comments (external data) from individual stores, such as road construction that affect footfall or competition from a new store that opened nearby. All this provides context and a more complete picture of why and how they achieve particular sales figures.
Building a better supply chain with analytics
The Sisense platform is being used to improve the flow of information among Pets Corner, the Pet Family Group, and the supply chain.
As the group grew, so did the supply chain that Iain was working with, which in turn meant more costs and data to manage. Iain was eager to improve visibility across the supply chain to optimize business performance for everyone involved. Not only would this help to improve top-line revenue, it would also highlight any areas of risk in the chain, such as fluctuating transport costs and import/export restrictions and challenges. The more Pet Family can understand about its supply chain, the stronger its relationships with its suppliers will be. The more a supplier understands the sales process for a customer, the more effectively it can manage it.
YourDMS and Truth created a dashboard for each of Pet Family’s suppliers to illustrate how much of a particular product Pets Corner orders from each and to look for trends in the ordering process. This has allowed both Pet Family and its suppliers to order the correct amount of stock, allowing it to reduce costs, operate more efficiently, and avoid overstocking (and leaving products sitting on the shelf) or understocking (and disappointing customers).
For example, if Pet Family has a scenario where demand could potentially outstrip supply, viewed with real-time insights into their data, alternative arrangements can be made in advance. If a supplier is frequently late with deliveries or short shipping orders, Pet Family will be alerted so the procurement team can engage with suppliers and manage inventory levels. This is key to successfully managing the customer/supplier relationship.
The supply chain analytics program demonstrates one of the ways Pet Family is working with its data and the Sisense platform to optimize performance. Several of Pet Family’s pet food suppliers — Canagan, Tribal, McAdam, and Yora — have implemented Sisense within their own businesses.
State-of-the-art distribution, thanks to data
In Pet Family’s state-of-the-art warehouse, they use Sisense to monitor stock levels. Workers can quickly check if goods have been delivered, spot if there’s a discrepancy between the amounts ordered and delivered, and see where the shipment is in the warehouse. Sisense also shows how long suppliers take on average to fulfill an order, allowing the warehouse management team to ensure that they always have adequate storage space. If two orders were going to be delivered at the same time, resulting in a lack of space, the Sisense dashboard would alert them.
The warehouse is responsible for shipping internally to all branches, wholesale customers, e-commerce, and individual customers. Each element of these processes is shown using Sisense.
This removes the need for individuals to look after their own datasets, usually with Excel spreadsheets, making data more manageable and accessible to the people who need it. Everyone from the CEO to the warehouse assistant can see the information they need right away, every day.
Using Sisense for predictive ordering
YourDMS and Truth have built a Sisense Predictive Ordering Dashboard by taking ERP data, applying individual SKU-level information based on product type, sales run rate, and stock availability, all over selectable time periods to achieve a window into product behavior. The procurement team is given constant trusted data which is rich with relevant information that helps them build and maintain an adaptive and robust procurement plan, not just for now, but as far ahead as 12 months, if required.
More recently, a new warehouse management system has been implemented and integrated with Sisense to provide validation of all information being shared between the ERP system and the warehouse management system. Warehouse staff will be alerted to any discrepancies between the two systems. Any problems with picking runs, packing, non-shipments, etc., will be flagged in real-time by Sisense, allowing them to be proactive, not reactive, when dealing with issues. Using Sisense to manage data validation between systems reduces work needed at the end of the process. Pets Corner refer to Sisense as “the data policeman” because it is not just presenting flat information, it is providing the difference to how their data is managed and utilized effectively.
Data access everywhere
Previously, every store produced an Excel spreadsheet that recorded their sales. The area manager would also have Excel spreadsheets of their own. Now, they just have a dashboard. Area managers can filter it to show individual stores’ sales figures. This has greatly reduced email traffic sharing sensitive sales data and solved version-control issues.
For supplier Canagan’s sales team who are working remotely, visiting and selling to pet stores, they can now see their fastest selling products, what a particular store bought this time last year, the most popular items in different areas, and more.
Teams, stores, and area managers have the ability to analyze this data and more in granular detail. For example, if sales increase by 5%, they can see where that increase has come from and which products they have sold more of.
If sales decrease, area managers can click on a widget to dig into the segment (e.g. pet food) and drill down to show the performance by brand. They can even see the specific pet food products at SKU-level within that brand. This all creates a fundamental connection between outcomes and the conditions that led to the result: How much they lost on a particular brand, whether items were out of stock, etc. Managers then link these insights back to supply chain management and procurement by joining up the data. In a few simple clicks, they’ve got answers.
Toward a brighter future
“Business intelligence should sit on everything,” says Iain, who’s always looking for new ways to use it within the business to give the company a competitive edge.
Sisense has empowered Pet Family to look at their systems and processes and see what needs to be improved in key areas. Are they getting the best from each system? Are they getting the most out of their data correctly? Did they have access to the right data? Sisense has brought a lot of questions to the business, but it’s allowed them to solve some long-term problems. Pet Family is always looking to improve and Sisense is a perfect fit for that mindset.
Sisense has proven invaluable to Pet Family, allowing them to operate in an agile and proactive way, using insights from their combined datasets to make faster, smarter decisions and inform business strategy. Iain now has oversight of the whole business — in accounts, sales, procurement, stores, the warehouse, and supply chain. Users can now act on the insights from data within hours, rather than weeks. Sisense has improved access to data throughout the business due to its user friendly, self-service dashboards. Presenting the right insights at the right time and place to the right people is the key to evolution for businesses of all kinds.
Stewart Wright is the managing director at YourDMS and Truth BI. YourDMS specializes in Document Management and Business Process Management. Truth BI specializes in Business Intelligence. He has over 20 years of experience in the document and data management industry. Stewart’s knowledge and desire to deliver solutions that work and offer real benefit to his customers is the bedrock upon which the companies were founded. YourDMS and Truth BI provide clients with seamless delivery of market leading business solutions to simplify the way organizations work.