Sarah Bouvil arrived in Brazil from France in 2013 to join Decathlon, and currently holds the position of e-commerce director. In this interview, Sarah shares her views about the importance of using data to monitor online business and make better decisions.
Sarah, Decathlon is very well-known in Brazil, and it has a strong identity worldwide. Can you tell us a little bit about the company’s history, its mission, and its values?
At Decathlon, our goal is to democratise sports. We offer products with the best value in the market, and we believe that innovation should not be a matter of price. Vitality and accountability are the values that most represent us.
Decathlon was founded in France in 1976. Today, we are global leaders in sporting goods distribution, with 930 stores around the world, 7,000 sporting good items for 55 different sports, and 20 exclusive brands.
Decathlon came to Brazil in 2001 and currently has 19 stores in the country, in addition to the online store decathlon.com.br, which opened in 2012.
What were the main goals of your digital analytics project?
Many companies don’t realise the value of the data they have. I meet colleagues from other companies who make decisions without analysing historic data. The way I see it, by analysing data before defining a communication plan, before determining a brand’s merchandising, and before organising the featured products on the site’s main pages, I can save time and ensure better decision-making. We don’t have “speculative” meetings – we want to understand and respond to our customers’ expectations.
Therefore, our digital analytics project began with the goal of growing the data culture within all e-commerce departments: purchasing, loyalty, usability, product, customer service… Everyone can learn and improve thanks to analytics numbers.
Beyond the cultural aspect, data reliability, efficient visualisation, and simplified usage and sharing of information all make a difference when it’s time to make a decision.
And one more thing – analytics is not just limited to a screen with a dashboard showing real-time metrics. My KPIs (key performance indicators) are always linked to actions. For example, a dashboard should allow us to understand at a glance whether performance is up to par with forecasts, and react quickly if this is not the case, by analysing more detailed reports.
Please tell us about the project’s main stages.
We hired AT Internet consultants who guided us through implementation and correct usage of AT Internet solutions. The first step was to list our business goals and define the KPIs accordingly.
The next step was the implementation phase. With the tagging plan, our IT team updated the data layer and configured the tags directly in our TMS (Tag Management System). We also updated some of our site’s elements in order to track all interactions of visitors to our site.
Once the tags were implemented, we began using the tools. AT Internet helped us customise a few specific dashboards for the diverse needs of our different teams. Quickly thereafter, and even without historical data, we reached some interesting insights. For instance, we identified the most-sought-after products that customers were sometimes unable to locate on our site.
I’ve summarised the three main steps. It is important to note that an analytics project is continuously evolving, because the objectives are adapted to the context, and that context changes all the time. Just like in the sports world, agility is very important.
Can you give us examples of how you’re using the analytics solution today?
Sure. It’s gratifying to see our teams consuming analytics data today. Without analytics reports, people seem lost. It’s like being in São Paulo traffic without Waze… That’s how it feels.
The marketing team focuses on the site’s performance. Those in charge of each major product line study the navigation paths, internal house ad performance on different pages and positions, product conversion rates, and customer behaviour in the purchase pipeline. Search engine analysis allows us to identify the interest in products and understand trends.
Each user has access to an interface for analysis, and we also have a screen out in the open that displays a dashboard with real-time data and our most relevant KPIs. We also receive a daily report that is e-mailed in the morning. Some use Excel directly to automatically pull web analytics data. For instance, we have a file that is configured to show all products (with IDs) with abandonment and purchase figures, as well as the conversion rate for the product page.
Personally, I like to access the data directly on my mobile phone at any time, night or day.
So, when you’re having breakfast, you’re already checking your analytics data in order to act quickly if the store’s performance is not meeting expectations?
Yes, exactly. In fact, most of the time, even before breakfast. 😉
Do other teams at Decathlon use web analytics data?
Yes, the product team.
At Decathlon, we have a product team for each sport category. These categories are mountain sports, swimming, team sports, etc. … And, within a single category, we can have more than one brand.
We began a test with one of the teams, involving a web dashboard that displayed an overview of the main product KPIs, as well as the most abandoned and most purchased products.
Another team that benefits from analytics data is the communications team. AT Internet’s tool is very helpful for creation. People monitor a campaign’s performance and can assess the positive impact of a new action in just a few minutes. The possibility of testing encourages the team’s creativity and, in the end, our clients have the last word on whether it works or not. The people in charge of campaigns get accurate customer interaction figures. Using the API, they can extract lists to plan e-mail retargeting campaigns.
How do you see the evolution of digital analytics in general?
Today, digital analytics helps us better understand our customers and allows us to adapt our relationship with them. I would like to democratise the use of data even more and have more interactions with the physical world. We’re currently in an “omnichannel” world, we realise that people want to experience both online and offline environments. I see a convergence of data to personalise the customer experience, and I dream about using big data to take advantage of weather data, traffic data and the news, and enrich and adapt our offering to democratise sports even further!