The ALDO Group is well known around the world for its fashionable footwear and accessories, cool retail stores, and exceptional customer service. What’s not so well known is how the company continuously drives the business forward using innovative technology.
At SAPPHIRE NOW 2016, I had the pleasure of speaking with David Dadoun, Senior Manager, BI and Data Governance at ALDO Group, about the new mobile visual business intelligence (BI) and reporting tool that has digitally transformed reporting and analytics for the sales and operations teams and has become the go-to source to view ALDO’s primary retail metrics.
Finding the right reporting solution
The ALDO Group has more than 2000 stores across 95 countries and sees in excess of 200 million customers each year. Keeping track of all that sales, customer, and store traffic data is hard. But generating up to the minute sales and store performance reports in a format that is easy for people to view and analyze on a mobile device is even harder.
In the past, corporate KPI reports were sent out on multiple PDFs. The information was there but it wasn’t fresh and it was very difficult to view and analyze on a mobile device. “Our district managers are on the road talking, coaching, and mentoring the store managers and sales staff. We don’t want them to have to walk around with laptops or go home or to an office to look through outdated PDF reports,” said Dadoun.
ALDO needed a mobile BI and reporting solution that would provide near real-time data in a visually appealing way. It also had to be engaging and easy to use to ensure user adoption. Dadoun and his team gathered the business requirements and began looking at the leading mobile BI applications available. “We looked at different options but the only tool on the market that filled the gap for a highly intuitive, interactive, mobile BI platform was SAP BusinessObjects Roambi,” explained Dadoun.
The team quickly built a prototype with the new tool using ALDO’s sales KPIs, wrote up a business case that clearly justified the cost, and presented the case to the executive team. “The executives loved it and gave us the green light to move forward in the beginning of 2015. In August of that year, which aligned with our second season, we launched the application to about 100 of our district managers, sales directors, and executives,” said Dadoun.
Fresh data anytime anywhere
One thing ALDO loves about the new mobile reporting app is that it works even when offline. Once the data is uploaded, all the reports and drill-down capabilities are fully functional. So whether you are a sales associate in a mall with bad reception or an executive on an airplane, you can still access the data and reports.
To keep the report data fresh, ALDO uploads flat files from its enterprise data warehouse into the app every 30 minutes. The flat files are pre-formatted for the reporting dashboards, uploaded to the SAP BusinessObjects Roambi cloud, and then pushed to each user’s device. “At most, the data and reports in the app are 30 minutes behind the last store transaction, which is amazing,” said Dadoun.
ALDO has two primary report formats, daily and weekly. The daily report shows how well the company’s eight main KPI’s are doing against their targets every single day, up to the last 30 minutes. The weekly report shows the week in total and any previous week. The reports are presented on a mobile device in fluid dashboards with interactive charts and graphs that are easy to view and use.
Big benefits for the business
The advantages of the new reporting app over the old PDF reports are enormous. “The time savings for our sales directors and district managers is huge, mobile accessibility to near real-time information anytime from anywhere is huge, and improving the speed to decision making is huge,” explained Dadoun.
Executives, district managers, and sales managers no longer have to collect countless PDF’s or pull out a laptop to figure out how an employee, store, district, or country is performing against company KPIs. They can simply pull out their phone as they walk around a store to check the numbers for things like sales, conversions, items sold per transaction, customer satisfaction, and instantly share that info with sales people on the floor.
To show how quick and easy the app is to use, Dadoun took out his phone and gave me a live demo of the prototype they built. Within a few seconds he was showing me ALDO’s KPI dashboard populated with sample data. “Here you can see the data aggregated at district manager level but I can also drill down and see how each store is performing across each KPI,” he demonstrated. He touched on a specific store and a chart popped up showing how close the store was from hitting its sales target for the day. Then he swiped right and a new chart came up that compared current store results to last year.
Each of ALDO’s main KPIs had a complete set of interactive charts and supporting metrics that brought the business to life. “It’s really a complete view of our key metrics and allows us to quickly check the pulse of our business at any level at any time,” said Dadoun.
High adoption rate spells success
The implementation was clearly a success because user adoption of the app has been incredible. “Upwards of 95% of users leverage the tool regularly,” said Dadoun. When ALDO was using PDF’s for reporting Dadoun had no idea how many people were using them or how often. With SAP BusinessObjects Roambi it’s the opposite. “We know exactly who is using the reports and who isn’t, which helps us identify who needs a little coaching or training or if something isn’t working,” said Dadoun.
Another reason adoption of the app is high are the collaboration tools. Dadoun said the users really like the ability to make annotations directly on a screen with a finger or stylus, and send them to someone. The tool automatically takes a screen shot after the annotation is complete and embeds it into a draft email. “So if you are a district manager and you see that a KPI for one of your stores is performing well, or not so well, and you want to highlight it, you can make a quick annotation on the screen and instantly send it to the store manager,” explained Dadoun.
Quality and simplicity were also fundamental aspects of the implementation. Dadoun is in charge of data governance at ALDO so he smartly leveraged this project to ensure that everyone agreed how KPIs were defined and calculated. “A key success factor for this project was to make sure that we all speak the same language, that we all look at the same KPIs, and that the data is clean,” said Dadoun.
Culturally, SAP BusinessObjects Roambi was a great fit as well. “Our company has a strong culture of collaboration, coaching, and supporting each other,” Dadoun said as he removed the ALDO pin on his lapel and handed it to me. On the back of the pin were three words: love, integrity, and respect. “These are the core values of our founder and I think this project supports them.” Other departments within ALDO are now clamoring for the app so I think he’s right.
UPDATE: Check out this new video interview with Dadoun taken at the SAP Retail Forum: