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Warehouse Group does more with data

Sathya Mithra Ashok | April 2, 2014
The Warehouse Group needs no introduction. As one of NZ's largest retailers, Warehouse Group deals with a wide range of products from clothing, entertainment, technology and music to sporting, gardening, grocery and many others, across multiple brands, since 1982.

The solution has also automated daily sales reporting, sending out reports early in the morning to all relevant parties seven days a week. These reports are used by central headquarters to analyse situations on the ground, and are used by individual stores to plan for the day ahead and brief staff accordingly.

"If you think of Easter, you used to get a sales report on the Thursday morning and the next sales report wouldn't come out till Tuesday. Now we get a sales report seven days a week," says Rowland.

The solution has also been used to automate reporting to suppliers, going out from the merchandising department, leaving them to "get on with their work and not worry about admin".

At the back end

The process of data clean up and integration to enable Qlikview was made relatively simple by the BI team by having in place the eBusiness Suite, which provided "one point of truth".

The team had to integrate spreadsheets as well into the data capture, and managed to get around this potential complication by insisting that they sit on the Qlikview servers. And significant changes to the spreadsheets, such as removing a store for a short period of time, can be done by the BI team based on business requirements.

With Noel Leeming and the newer companies that have been added to the group, the team works to verify the data that is being produced against what used to be produced and provides it back to the business through the set models.

"We are giving the data back to the people who own it, but at the same time we have the control of the system. We understand what is going on and it has been signed off by the right people," says Rowland.

According to Rowland, the biggest challenge faced by the team was moving people off an Excel-mindset.

"We were going back to the business and giving them a blank paper. OK — we have group data models, agreed how we are going to bring in them, but how do you want to see it? People are so used to seeing Excel, the initial reaction is I want to see a lot of excel and maybe couple of graphs.

"And that is the biggest single issue — first getting people out of that excel head space. And then delivering something that is visually exciting.

"If I was to do the whole thing again, I would actually design something in the beginning and give it to the business, and ask them what they think, as opposed to going to the business with a blank page and asking them what they want. Now they understand what the tool can do but back then they didn't. So we have all learned from this," says Rowland.


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