americanas sa develops analytics-driven culture using Google Cloud’s solutions

About americanas sa

americanas sa, a company arising from the merger of Lojas Americanas and B2W Digital’s operations, is a technology innovation platform capable of delivering the best omnichannel consumption experience in Brazil. Its goal is to gather together everything good in the world to improve people’s lives.

Industries: Retail & Consumer Goods
Location: Brazil

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After migrating its data infrastructure to the cloud, the company increased its speed to test and validate hypotheses for different business areas and improve its customers’ experience.

Results

  • 100% environment availability rate since migration
  • Around 700 monthly active users and 500 daily active users on the digital platform’s data platform
  • Democratized access, improved governance, and increased security for the company’s data

14 PiB of data scanned every week.

Delivering the best customer experience, either in its 1,700+ brick-and-mortar stores or via ecommerce, is a constant challenge for americanas sa. Arising from the merger of the operations of Lojas Americanas and B2W Digital, the company has a wide-ranging brand portfolio and a constantly growing audience. Its platforms, including brands such as americanas, Submarino, Shoptime, and Sou Barato, have more than 90 million registered customers and over 46 million unique users.

Data analytics plays a crucial role in the company’s business strategy to understand and improve the shopping journey of such a diverse audience spread throughout Brazil. And to deliver a faster experience with less friction and more user engagement, the company’s data environment must match its expansion rate.

Initially hosted on physical servers, the company’s infrastructure no longer provided the level of maintainability and scalability the technology team needed to manage a growing data volume. The business required even more efficiency to test hypotheses, validate concepts, and achieve results to assist in the teams’ decision-making process.

“We must provide the business and technology teams with tools and solutions so they have autonomy and speed when validating hypotheses. For example: Does the color of the 'Shop' button on the product page have any influence on the user’s decision? We need to be able to test and react very quickly,” explains Tiago Andrade, americanas sa’s Executive Data Manager.

In 2017, the team decided to migrate its data environment to the cloud, looking to improve scalability, governance, security, and, mainly, speed. After an in-depth technical assessment of the market’s three main providers, Google Cloud was chosen for the maturity of its big data and analytics solutions.

A new data platform in the cloud

The data was migrated over around six months in 2018. It was a complex process, especially due to the size of the company’s data environment. To achieve the best possible result, the team was helped by Google Cloud’s experts at every stage of the process. Google Cloud also provided americanas sa’s professionals with training so they would understand the solutions better.

“Migration involves a lot of planning, and that is where we had a lot of support from Google Cloud. Not only did they help us with strategic planning and running the migration, their main contribution was providing our teams with training.”

Tiago Andrade, Executive Data Manager, americanas sa

The company’s new data platform in the cloud comprises a series of ingestion, storage, processing and data analytics tools from Google Cloud, such as App Engine, BigQuery, and Dataflow. As a result, the engineering team can focus its efforts on activities involving the creation and management of data layers instead of devoting most of its time to maintaining infrastructure. This has increased employee productivity and added value to the business.

Currently, a data volume of 14 PiB (equal to over 15,000 TB) is scanned every week on the platform, which has kept an availability rate of 100% since the migration. Unlike the previous infrastructure, the environment is scalable almost in real time. Moreover, the solutions’ ease of use and the architectural decisions leading to efficient information organization have democratized access to data and improved their governance.

Analytics-driven culture

It would be a mistake to think that the change has only impacted IT workers. The platform works as a source of data for every business area in the company, which can now test and validate hypotheses and create new products efficiently, either with support from the technology team or by querying the datasets on their own. Nowadays, the solutions are accessed by nearly 700 monthly active users and 500 daily active users.

“Because of our size, we cannot have a centralized team helping everybody. Instead, we identify each team’s needs and provide help and training, enabling them to use the tools and solutions to solve their problems on their own, using self-service,” Andrade explains. The company also hosts training provided by Google Cloud on a regular basis.

Despite the high volume of accesses, data is secured using the resources provided by Google Cloud’s solutions. Access permissions have been adjusted to the highest level of detail so users can visualize only the information they need for the project they are working on, in compliance with every applicable legislation on data protection.

“Google Cloud’s biggest security differentiator is the level of granularity to grant access. Our entire data universe now provides us with perfectly organized management based on that level of permission—the lowest possible level.”

Tiago Andrade, Executive Data Manager, americanas sa

Efficiency in testing and validating hypotheses has led to improvements and boosted product creation in the company. This new dynamic has brought a cultural transformation. Andrade explains that, in the past, the team used to work under a data-driven culture, i.e., leaders had an answer in mind and tried to confirm it using the data.

Now, data is used to raise different hypotheses, reach multiple answers, and test them to find the best way—a process dubbed “analytics-driven culture” by the Executive Data Manager. Decisions are now guided not just by data, but also by their deep analysis. “Everybody has a lot of data, that is not the issue. The issue is how to guide the analysis and reject or accept the results based on the hypotheses you raised,” he says.

“Had we not increased our scale, our speed, and our capability to measure hypotheses in real time while testing, we would surely not be where we stand today. That was a differentiator brought to us by Google Cloud’s infrastructure.”

Tiago Andrade, Executive Data Manager, americanas sa.

The result of that transformation has been felt at the other end: the company’s customers. With new data products offering increasingly accurate and relevant algorithms created after testing, the browsing and shopping journey has improved for users. When they access americanas sa’s digital platforms, they now get product recommendations that are better aligned to their preferences, which impacts sales results.

Other use paths for Google Cloud

Americanas’s teams are constantly assessing Google Cloud’s solution portfolio to look for new implementations, and not just for data. Another tool adopted was Dialogflow, which uses artificial intelligence to provide more natural and richer conversational experiences. The company developed its virtual assistant based on that tool to provide a more efficient, intuitive and personal customer service focused on customers’ requirements.

Through an integration with WhatsApp, users of americanas, Submarino and Shoptime’s digital platforms, and the Supermercado Now’s app are now able to track their product’s entire purchase journey in a quick and practical way. This easy-to-obtain information represented 30% of contacts in the other customer-service channels. Now employees have more time to answer more complex questions that cannot be automated.

In 2020, the virtual assistant on americanas’s website answered 8 million messages from 3 million automated customer-service interactions. Every month, the team studies new optimizations for this system so it can better meet customer demands and help the company achieve its goal of providing the best possible experience.

Tell us your challenge. We're here to help.

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About americanas sa

americanas sa, a company arising from the merger of Lojas Americanas and B2W Digital’s operations, is a technology innovation platform capable of delivering the best omnichannel consumption experience in Brazil. Its goal is to gather together everything good in the world to improve people’s lives.

Industries: Retail & Consumer Goods
Location: Brazil