Real-Time Data for Ninja Van’s E-Commerce Tracking

Ninja Van is one of southeast Asia’s fastest-growing startups – the Singapore-headquartered company provides last-mile logistics solutions for e-commerce businesses across the region, ensuring packages and other deliveries arrive seamlessly. Businesses can integrate Ninja Van’s APIs for a hassle-free experience, and to enjoy features like real-time tracking that help them operate faster and more efficiently. 

With billions of data points to keep track of, Ninja Van needed a BI infrastructure that was powerful enough to support real-time data analysis and tracking. In 2017, it turned to Sisense for Cloud Data Teams to provide a single source of truth for its data and help transform the business to become more data-driven. 

Rapid Growth Requires Scalable Solutions

Ninja Van has grown incredibly quickly – the company is four years old, but they’ve already grown to have more than 2,000 employees across the region. This fast pace of growth made the company’s original data infrastructure inadequate within months, which led the team to search for a more comprehensive tool to support their rapid scaling.

“It became quickly apparent that cobbling together data insights in Google Sheets wouldn’t scale,” said Ray Wong, Head of Business Intelligence at Ninja Van. “Our information wasn’t connected to any databases – we just dumped data in the sheets and people viewed it there, so deeper analysis of data was pretty challenging. We needed a tool to allow different teams to write their own queries and pull their own data.”

Wong was tasked with building out the analytics workflow for dozens of operations teams within Ninja Van, ensuring each disparate team is able to access the insights they need to make data-driven decisions. He knew that building a scalable solution in-house wouldn’t be cost-efficient, so they began to evaluate Sisense for Cloud Data Teams and several other platforms. 

“We looked at a bunch of free and paid options,” said Wong. “The free ones were pretty bare-bones and didn’t have the full suite of functions we wanted. Overall, the price point Sisense for Cloud Data Teams offered us was pretty good, for the same features we’d get from other solutions that were more expensive.”

They ended up choosing to pair the Sisense for Cloud Data Teams platform for visualization, analytics, and data management, with an open-source tool, Redash, for its collaboration offerings. The BI team has also taken advantage of the recent integration with Python to access even more powerful visualization options, although Ninja Van data scientist Nipun Goel says the existing visualization options are already rather robust. 

“You can draw bar charts, tables, pie charts, maps – it’s pretty hands-on,” said Goel. “Having tons of charts and customization options directly within Sisense for Cloud Data Teams is extremely valuable for me to tell the stories we want to tell with data.” 

Today, Ninja Van has hundreds of users with Sisense for Cloud Data Teams accounts, saving time for everyone across the organization that would otherwise be spent on painstaking reporting tasks. 

“Pulling these reports manually, organizing them, and creating visualizations used to take our BI team several hours every week,” said Wong. “So we save a ton of time by having standardized dashboards – it means our management teams don’t have to wait for data to come back, and our BI team can spend time on more critical projects. These are really valuable capabilities that we just didn’t have before Sisense for Cloud Data Teams.”

Flexible Platform for Micro and Macro Analysis

“For supervisors, they’re looking at day-to-day performance of the delivery fleet on a more micro level. On the other side, managers will be looking not just at a single warehouse or hub, but at aggregated performance across the entire country. Sisense for Cloud Data Teams runs the gamut for all of those use cases at Ninja Van.”

Ray Wong
Ray Wong, Head of Business Intelligence at Ninja Van

Ninja Van is a logistics business, so most of its data is very operational – the company needs to track goods as they move through the supply chain and understand how long they take at each step. Meanwhile, in other parts of the business, managers need to track efficiency and cost metrics to ensure they hit all their internal goals. 

Sisense for Cloud Data Teams provides them with a flexible platform that works for everyone across their business – from the advanced data scientists to the supervisors of delivery fleets. Wong’s BI team and a few select others with SQL experience handle writing most of the queries, but a large percentage of the 2,000+ employees have accounts to view visualizations and adjust filters to explore data deeper as needed. 

“For supervisors, they’re looking at day-to-day performance of the delivery fleet on a more micro level. On the other side, managers will be looking not just at a single warehouse or hub, but at aggregated performance across the entire country,” said Wong. “Sisense for Cloud Data Teams runs the gamut for all of those use cases at Ninja Van.” 

Wong’s team also handles requests for data that come from outside the company – they have several corporate customers who require consistent, fresh data on Ninja Van’s delivery performance, which they receive through Sisense for Cloud Data Teams dashboards.

“We’re talking about larger customers who are asking us about larger volumes across a number of orders,” says Wong. “I can pull those reports pretty quickly from Sisense for Cloud Data Teams. We’ll even share links to those dashboards externally with those customers so they can do more real-time self-serve tracking. This supports our endeavour to provide our customers with a hassle-free logistics experience powered by technology.”

Differentiators: Cache and Permissions

One of the most powerful features for Ninja Van is the Data Cache, which allows its site administrators to store copies of their tables in a multi-tenant Redshift cluster via a designated caching strategy. That enables the data team to create joins across multiple databases, which had been a near impossibility with its internal warehouse, and helps queries run faster so the team can process more data.  

“Rather than having queries run for 10-20 minutes, or even an hour, Sisense for Cloud Data Teams cache returns the data much faster,” said Wong. “It allows us to do more experimentation when our team can run queries and have data come up extremely fast.”

Another key differentiator is the administrator functions and user permissions. Wong and Goel have access to usage logs to better understand how their team is using Sisense for Cloud Data Teams, but can also use the permission settings to precisely control which users have access to which data.

“It enables us to restrict people to their relevant dashboards or relevant groups, plus we can differentiate between ‘edit’ and ‘view’ permissions” said Goel. “That helps us share links with external parties, and just really keep control over access levels both inside and outside the organization.”

As Ninja Van continues its rapid growth, that segmentation of users across levels will become even more critical. Goel says the value the platform provides in that regard means he expects the number of users and quantity of data pulled through Sisense for Cloud Data Teams to increase in the near future.

“Our BI practice is getting stronger day by day,” said Goel. “Sisense for Cloud Data Teams is really a scalable solution for us because it really helps us manage the whole visualization chain. From the top-most strategic dashboards for managers, to data drill-downs of the factors affecting our day-to-day operations, we can manage it all in one place with Sisense for Cloud Data Teams.”