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On: Staying competitive for the long haul with a unified big data platform

About On

On was born in the Swiss Alps with one goal: to revolutionize the sensation of running by empowering all to run on clouds. Fueled by customer recommendation, On’s award-winning CloudTec® innovation, purposeful design, and groundbreaking strides in sportswear’s circular economy have attracted a fast-growing global fan base across more than 60 countries worldwide.

Industries: Retail & Consumer Goods
Location: Switzerland

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By unifying ecommerce information on scalable data infrastructure, the sports shoe experts at On ensure they understand what their customers want, even as the company expands.

Google Cloud results

  • Scales data solutions to match company growth, as On extends to 50 markets worldwide
  • Unifies data with easy-to-use connections between Google Cloud tools
  • Delivers accurate analysis on the true cost of campaigns using Google Sheets to manually add offline data

Connects data to identify precise customer clusters

Olivier Bernhard has done great things in running shoes. Twice world champion in the long-distance duathlon and eight times winner of Ironman triathlon competitions, Olivier spent more than a decade as a professional endurance athlete. So when he teamed up with David Allemann and Caspar Coppetti in 2010 to create the perfect running shoe, he brought a knowledgeable customer’s perspective to product development. Together, the three friends founded On, developing innovative footwear that is now sold in more than 60 countries worldwide.

“BigQuery is the cornerstone of our data strategy at On. It is secure, easy to use, and cost effective. Rich partner ecosystem and seamless integrations with other Google services have allowed us to move fast and focus on using the data and empowering all parts of the business."

Andrej Blaha, Head of Business Intelligence, On

In 2019, long-time On fan and Olympic gold medalist tennis player Roger Federer joined the On leadership team as an entrepreneur, bringing insights as a professional athlete to help create unique products and experiences for On customers around the world. The partnership was celebrated at a live event streamed globally on YouTube, where Roger himself revealed the results of his first project in the On Lab: a tennis-inspired sneaker collection designed for comfort and performance. While on set, Roger answered questions and interacted with the audience using Google Meet, to the delight of fans from all over the world.

On started life as a running shoe company, but its comfortable, light footwear soon attracted a diverse range of customers, from people looking for wearable, everyday shoes to those on the hunt for hiking apparel. Targeting new audiences in the US, Germany, and the UK, On recognized that a detailed understanding of customer needs is as vital for growth as it was for the design of that first running shoe.

The team at On had to manage different sources of data from different channels. But the team wanted to understand the way that everything in the company related to everything else. That’s why On created a centralized, scalable data warehouse on BigQuery with Looker, the modern business intelligence and data application platform that provides access to actionable insights on Google Cloud. This enabled the team to unify their data sources and compare performance across them. It has also made the process of growth manageable.

“Setting up an architecture is so easy with the intelligent connections between Google Cloud tools. In my experience, I’ve never worked with such a robust and coherent system. And with accounts managed through Google Workspace, it’s incredibly easy to onboard new starters, which is a real bonus for a fast-growing company.”

Sofia Cubillos, Head of Data Analytics, Ecommerce, On

Connecting cloud tools to bring data together

As a company grows, it can become hard to maintain a clear idea of who its customers are, what they want, and how to give them what they need. For On, a diversifying product range and rapid expansion into multiple markets underlined the value of a unifying business intelligence solution that could scale at speed. On put together an architecture that does just that, built around BigQuery as a scalable data warehouse.

“BigQuery is the cornerstone of our data strategy at On. It is secure, easy to use, and cost-effective. Rich partner ecosystem and seamless integrations with other Google services have allowed us to move fast and focus on using the data and empowering all parts of the business." says Andrej Blaha, Head of Business Intelligence of On.

A wide array of data sources from across the company feed into BigQuery, including the campaign manager Display and Video 360, On’s Google Ads, multiple social media sources, and Google Analytics 360, which relays on-site user behavior. On also sends predictive modeling and segmentation, created with Apache Airflow run on Cloud Composer. Once in BigQuery, data is transformed with DBT data transformation tool and made available through Looker. “Setting up an architecture is so easy with the intelligent connections between Google Cloud tools,” says Sofia Cubillos, Head of Data Analytics at On. “In my experience, I’ve never worked with such a robust and coherent system to analyze, visualize, and act on the comprehensive business intelligence information we now have at hand.”

Using Google Workspace collaboration tools, teams can manually enter datasets into Google Sheets that connect directly to BigQuery. “If we’re running a campaign in the offline world, such as a direct mail campaign, we need to be able to compare the costs of those campaigns to the revenue that they generate on the webshop,” explains Sofia. “The digital marketing team on that campaign can upload its cost to a Google Sheet, which connects really nicely to all the other platforms through BigQuery, so we can get the full picture. And with accounts managed through Google Workspace, it’s incredibly easy to onboard new starters, which is a real bonus for a fast-growing company.”

Creating detailed audience clusters with machine learning

On uses its unified data architecture as the foundation for a wide range of projects, such as creating customer clusters in real time using AutoML. Using clusters to create audiences in Google Analytics 360, On is able to assign budgets to achieve the best returns on investment.

“We took all our data sources, including CRM data from Salesforce and behavioral data from Google Analytics 360, and we created 65 dimensions for each customer,” says Sofia, “such as country, transaction history, date of last session, etc. With AutoML, we created a clustering algorithm that put out seven clusters, such as ‘fans’ of the brand, or ‘Black Fridayers,’ who respond particularly well to promotions.” The team sends the clusters back to BigQuery, then identifies them in Google Analytics 360 through CRMint. Finally, sending the audiences to Display and Video 360 means On can create lookalike audiences and identify prospective customers.

“BigQuery fit our needs when we were a small company, and it fits our needs today. The infrastructure grows with us, so we haven't had to change systems or migrate data. We can just trust it to work. It’s a great jumping-off point for all our data projects.”

Sofia Cubillos, Head of Data Analytics, Ecommerce, On

Laying the foundation for growth with a scalable data platform

On’s unified data platform on cloud infrastructure scales with the company, so that On can understand what customers want, even as it grows at speed. “By building this architecture with Google Cloud tools, we don't have to migrate everything in order to support rapid growth,” says Sofia. “Google Cloud scales our infrastructure for us.”

Now On is looking to build more predictive algorithms, using first-party data and machine learning tools. “We need to find the right balance between protecting user privacy and offering them the best service,” says Sofia. “To get that right, we need to use data.” Thanks to the architecture On has built on Google Cloud, that data is available, helping On outpace competitors and keep growth on track.

“BigQuery fit our needs when we were a small company, and it fits our needs today,” says Sofia. “The infrastructure grows with us, so we haven't had to change systems or migrate data. We can just trust it to work. It’s a great jumping-off point for all our data projects.”

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

Contact us

About On

On was born in the Swiss Alps with one goal: to revolutionize the sensation of running by empowering all to run on clouds. Fueled by customer recommendation, On’s award-winning CloudTec® innovation, purposeful design, and groundbreaking strides in sportswear’s circular economy have attracted a fast-growing global fan base across more than 60 countries worldwide.

Industries: Retail & Consumer Goods
Location: Switzerland