Google Cloud Platform Helps European Flash-Sale Leader Turn Insights into Action
With 3 million members and significant revenue flowing in every quarter, Vente-Exclusive, the leader in Benelux online flash sales, found itself at a critical juncture. Working with an external data storage partner, Vente-Exclusive had compiled a mountain of information about its customers and their brand preferences – more than 100 million rows of entry data a month. And the company was bursting with exciting new ideas that required advanced customer analytics to implement. For example, Vente-Exclusive wanted to develop sales triggers – opportune emails sent to members, based on their prior activity. The company also wanted to better align future product orders with past customer behaviors.
Although Vente-Exclusive’s mountain of information continued to grow, its analytics infrastructure was limited and effectively broken. Data was warehoused across different servers. Queries about customer behavior, product relevance and shipping patterns took forever. Timely insights about potential marketing tools, sales campaigns and merchandising choices were lost. Frustration mounted. How would the company’s analysts extract value from all this data to discover what its customers truly wanted?
Through mutual colleagues, Vente-Exclusive was introduced to Datatonic, a data analytics consulting firm. “When we first came in,” says Nicolas Deruytter, Managing Director of Datatonic in Belgium, “we realized that Vente-Exclusive could not advance with their current infrastructure.”
Datatonic proposed using a suite of Google Cloud Platform products to create Vente-Exclusive’s advanced analytics system. Cloud Storage provided unlimited warehousing of raw data files about customers, products and shipping logistics from the Vente-Exclusive site. Running on Compute Engine, Hadoop (an open source software framework) then delivered powerful data processing of those files. The results, in billions of rows, were pumped into BigQuery for lightning-speed analysis and specific business insights. Tableau, a dashboard system that connects natively to BigQuery, was used to share those insights with Vente-Exclusive decision makers across different parts of the company.
Through its new analytics platform, Vente-Exclusive can obtain actionable business insights in minutes rather than hours or days. Updating these results in a dashboard used to take an average employee up to 2 days per week. Now it’s fully automated, and allows for a deeper and more cost-effective analysis of consumer behavior. And the company has set up a customer ranking and recommendation system, making its communication about products more personal while improving overall customer relations. Using BigQuery, Vente-Exclusive can better predict customer turnover and is able to contact and reactivate about 30% of members who were planning to leave.
He also enjoys the dynamic scalability. “If we have to double or triple the number of buses because we close a really big contract, we don’t have to be worried because Google will just scale. We won’t need to make any upfront investment,” Amaral says. He also estimates that using Google Cloud Platform, ongoing operational IT costs are at least 20% lower than if Noxxon Sat had to host the application in a traditional data center.
“The biggest result is that App Engine made the project possible. Without it, this project wouldn’t have been feasible.”