Private Sector

4 minutes

Faster time to retail data insights For McCauley

Client

McCauley

Sector

Retail

Technology

Microsoft Power BI

The Challenge

Operating more than 30 retail outlets nationally and employing over 500 staff, McCauley Health & Beauty has grown from a family pharmacy business to be ranked among the top 500 companies in Ireland. The retailer had been in pursuit of better BI (Business Intelligence), moving from Excel spreadsheets to an early iteration of Power BI but still feeling there were untapped insights that could benefit the business. The goal was to be able to move from descriptive analytics, understanding historical data, to a more predictive model, where key insights could be used to drive more critical business decisions. Power BI enables everyone at every level of an organisation to make confident decisions using up-to-the-minute analytics. An issue with McCauley’s initial deployment is that the environment was populated with multiple user reports with similar names, creating confusion and repetition. Ergo was brought in to clean it up and take the business to a new level of data-driven decision-making.

The Solution

First, Ergo worked with McCauley to improve the existing suite of reports. The company uses Microsoft Dynamics Nav as its ERP system, a single source of transactional data that Ergo looked to access more easily using Power BI functionality. The goal was to analyse KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) for a better understanding of profits, margins and stock levels. These insights are then shared with key users through standardised reports shared via Power BI Apps. The way Microsoft enables data analysis in the cloud reflects the big change in BI, the move to ELT (Extract/Load/Transform) instead of ETL, where the data transformation is carried out at the target destination. Essentially, the data flow in Power BI cleans the data within the cloud, significantly reducing the time to insights and helping organisations bypass lengthy data warehouse projects. Consistency, compliance and best practice governance are embedded in Ergo BI projects, with policies put in place to ensure employees adhere to strict regulatory requirements around data. This will become more important for McCauley as it opens up Power BI access to regional managers, store managers and reps. The plan is that they will all be able to log in and directly access the reports they need.

The Benefits

Ergo’s data analysts describe their work as shaping the data in the background so that Power BI’s data visualisation tools can share insights in the foreground. The difference to McCauley’s management team has been profound. “We always had a broad understanding of what drove sales and success for our stores, but Ergo’s work around Power BI has given us much more insight and granular detail,” said Tony McEntee, Chief Executive at McCauley Health & Beauty.

McCauley is now starting to see a faster time to insights from sales transaction tables that have generated 23 million rows of data since 2017. A report for a weekly meeting, for example, that used to take a day is now generated within five minutes. The old way relied on manual intervention in Excel, one of several steps that was eradicated as Ergo systemised the process.

By cleaning the data and avoiding duplication, Ergo has consolidated the number of active reports down from 25 to five and brought McCauley into line with best practice visualisation. By leveraging interactive functionality and smart filtering, reports have a standardised look and feel, making them more familiar to people who may only use them intermittently.

The biggest win, however, has been the advanced intelligence Power BI now delivers, with year-on-year time intelligence around seasonal trends, and behavioural analysis on buying habits that give the retailer a better understanding of customers. Basket analysis digs down into the type of products sold in different stores at different times of the day, enabling the business to make smart data-driven decisions about how to position products and promotions.

Best of all, Ergo has provided the business with a foundation for ongoing Power BI optimisation. For any business in Fast-Moving Consumer Goods, being able to slice-and-dice data is critical. The next phase will be to tap into data sources from a new online portal and accurately measure the impact it has on revenue and margins.

Tony McEntee is seeing a roadmap where Power BI can play an even more significant role in business planning. “The work Ergo has carried out has allowed us to be a lot more proactive in planning for the future rather than just reporting the past. We now have a foundation to take it to the next level and make business decision making even more informed.”

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