Arc'teryx Takes a Self-Service Approach to DataBy Samuel Greengard
Over the last quarter of a century, North Vancouver, Canada-based Arc'teryx has established itself as a leading manufacturer and retailer of high-performance outdoor gear. The company has pioneered a number of innovations, including waterproof zippers for pants, jackets and other clothing.
The result? Over the last five years, the company has experienced rapid growth, averaging about 30 percent annually.
For Arc'teryx—which operates a website and branded stores, and also sells through other retailers such as REI and Nordstrom—data is now at the center of the business, and it increasingly defines how the company develops and sells products.
"We require deep and broad insights into marketing, sales, finance and operations," says William Jackson, senior manager of information systems. In the past, "One of the biggest problems we had was that anytime someone had a question about what was going on, they had to enlist the help of a software developer or a report analyst. It was a fairly complicated and time-consuming task."
Taking a Self-Service Approach to Data
As a result, the company began looking for a self-service approach to data that would fit with its expanding digital business requirements. After examining several vendors and approaches, Arc'teryx turned to Qlik Sense and Qlik DataMarket to plug in and analyze data from both internal and external sources.
The latter source includes important weather, financial, population and geographic data that can be used to better understand markets, customers and sales patterns. "It provides perspectives that weren't easily available in the past," Jackson says. "We now have a 360-degree view."
The visual self-service tool has dramatically changed the way Arc'teryx approaches the business. The company went live with a previous dashboard in 2010 and upgraded to the most recent tools in 2015. The use of big data is powering decisions about where and how to expand brick-and-mortar locations, what products to sell in stores, service and delivery processes, and supply chain efficiencies. The dashboards, which are now used across several departments, offer dynamic capabilities.
"You just open the GUI and specify which fields you want to include, along with the level of aggregation, such as whether you want to look at sales data at the city, county, state/province or national level," Jackson explains. "It's possible to view products, vendors, shipments and other information in context."
At present, the company relies on about a dozen data fields to populate 24 different dashboards, but it plans to expand the data sets in the future. The data platform provides a high level of flexibility and scalability, Jackson says.
For example, Arc'teryx may turn to social data and additional supply chain data in the future. "We are able to use extensions, essentially APIs, to plug in different types of data sets," he says. "We currently have a variety of projects we're looking at."
The migration to the Qlik system, which was relatively seamless, has continued to pay dividends, Jackson says. "We have been able to dig deeper into our data, revealing insights that … identify key markets for expansion, and improve our supply chain and relationships with vendors," he reports.
"Ultimately, this transforms the way we are able to run our day-to-day global operations."