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UK Tool Centre has operated a large showroom of 10,000+ products for over 60 years, and recently launched their ecommerce channel. Like many fast growing b2c businesses, they struggled with a complex retail buying structure, and the ability to link their Warehouse Management System (WMS) across logistics, supply chain, and marketing functions. Alteryx serves as the great glue between their website and core accounts systems, and departments such as marketing - who once struggled to get meaningful performance data from the WMS – can now glean insights every day.
Describe the business challenge or problem you needed to solve
Last year, I took on a leadership role at UK Tool Centre. As you would expect from the name, they are in the tool business, and in common with lots of businesses who appear to be digital, they are not. Their back room processes were mandrolic.
When I came to UK Tool Centre:
It had no clear brand proposition
It didn’t know what its conversion process was
It didn’t have a customer retention program
It didn’t have a warehouse management system: 39,000 SKUs and no idea what is in the database and in the warehouse
It had very poor quality data: data sitting in silos with very little automation
Despite all that, it was still doing quite well, 40% year on year growth. It was clear to me that this business had pedigree and had opportunity. We tried various solutions, but for a small business, the solutions that are on offer, large-scale SAP-style solutions, are expensive, difficult to configure and very difficult to achieve an ROI given the scale of the business.
Describe your working solution
We began a data-led journey. It started with what I am going to term the first Alteryx-friendly design agency, The Observatory, who began by crunching the raw Google analytics data to identify who the key customers are and how we are going to speak to them.
The other piece of work The Observatory had started us on was migrating from a legacy bespoke ecommerce system that was broken, to a state of the art Magento enterprise implementation, working with our partners iWeb.
We had to reorganize and categorize over 39,000 products. The purchase orders had some verbatim notes and some poor soul had to work through each of those notes and meticulously check that every single penny that’s due is paid. Inevitably, the process is error-prone. It creates significant discrepancies in stock value, mis-revenue, underselling, etc, etc.
So on day two of Alteryx, we designed a very lite solution where we were going to take the purchase orders from PeopleVox, and add the additional information that we need to be maintained - for example free products etc. We would create an Alteryx interface to manage this process, and when we were satisfied that all data fields were configured, we would write that to a draft bill in PeopleVox.
In the past, without Alteryx, we would write detailed requirements analysis, it is quite an involved software project – we have multiple APIs, multiple data sources and a complex workflow. So typically, we would iterate through with a team of software developers for a period of 6 months, and in the end, the results would not work.
Now with Alteryx, in the time that it would take me to write the requirements analysis, I wrote an interface to PeopleVox and to Xero with help from Continuum, I ran draft purchase orders from PeopleVox directly into Xero accounts. All of our product inventory with pricing content details, so that in the first iteration we were able to publish purchase orders from PeopleVox together with full inventory details to Xero.
This is day one. We are streamlined, scalable and agile.
Describe the benefits you have achieved
We had a significant job on our hands migrating 39,000 product records. They were categorized inappropriately: we were dealing with configurable products and with multiple price levels, checking the data integrity, bar codes and warehouse stock level. I single-handedly did the whole thing in Alteryx in under a week!