Customer Spotlight: Surfing the Data Wave

Using Qlik, O’Neill pairs internal and external data to make more well-informed retail decisions.

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The sport of surfing is an interesting study in extremes. Staying firmly planted on a surfboard in the face of crashing waves requires concentration, balance and strength of will. The ones who are generally the best have the best access to the ocean…and the best gear.

O’Neill was founded in 1952 right as the California surfing craze was entering its infancy in the United States. The base of operations moved shortly thereafter to Santa Cruz…but the spirit remained the same. Now you can find O’Neill apparel in 85+ countries worldwide for surfers, swimmers and snowboarders/skiers as well.

O’Neill Europe, as its name suggests, is collectively responsible for the design, purchasing and sales of the European O’Neill collection. Based out of the Netherlands, they are tasked with moving the brand forward creatively and ensuring the retail health of e-stores, wholesale shops and the standard brick and mortar establishments.

Data has always been of critical importance to O’Neill Europe’s IT Manager Rob Peters. He established a Business Intelligence Competence Center complete with a data warehouse in 2009 and saw the rollout of Cognos 10 BI software in 2010 (the first in Benelux to adopt).

Yet, as forward thinking as Peters was, he still wanted more:

“I knew from a number of key users that they wanted to make analyses which go beyond a simple report. They want to discover trends in our data, zoom in further and make comparisons.”

It just so happens that Peters was in luck, his BI partner E-mergo heard these concerns and introduced him to Qlik Sense. It didn’t take Peters long to see the potential:

“I was already familiar with QlikView, but not yet with Qlik Sense. I therefore downloaded a trial license and started playing around with it. You quickly become familiar with how it works. You can compare it to a Word document: you open it, then intuitively get started. Qlik Sense turned out to be easy to implement, incredibly fast and be very intuitive to use, and much less complicated than other tools I know.”

Peters made the purchase shortly thereafter and set out to start building apps. The first application he developed was for the consumer market:

“Through our own stores, the e-store, the marketplaces and a number of retailers, we have access to what is sold per day, per channel, per location and per product. We wanted to be able to analyze the specific consumer data in order to discover trends and make comparisons between the various channels.”

The first app was dubbed Consumer Sales and allows users to go on what Peters calls “a voyage of discovery”.

“[Users] can look at data – and compare data – about countries, locations, suppliers, sales date, product dimensions, segments such as snow and lifestyle, but also at external factors, such as climate data. And the nice thing is that, if you ask yourself a question you can find the answer straightaway. Which then allows you to immediately take action!”

Not only had Peters been able to give his colleagues access to data in ways they had never seen before, but now they were able to begin thinking proactively regarding the changing seasons. They could begin to anticipate trends and plan for what customers wanted before the demand reached critical levels.

Peters had immediate success creating the Consumer Sales app and generated even more organizational efficiency by creating a Wholesale app as well. That app focuses on partner retail shops and investigated data that is more closely tied to seasonal collections which do not fall within the quarterly finance reporting cycle.

For both retail management and e-commerce users at O’Neill Europe, Peters could not be more pleased with Qlik Sense:

“Qlik Sense is exceptionally fast. This motivates our users to drill down and to really start discovering. Qlik Sense is also self-service: because the application works extremely intuitively, our users can get straight to work without training. For us, Qlik Sense was really the next logical step to gain insight into our data, and increase the effectiveness of the business.”

As impressive an impact as the O’Neill brand has had worldwide: Peters was able to think ahead of that next wave and produce some gnarly results from his data using Qlik Sense.

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