​How Sephora focused on data to prepare for Black Friday

The beauty retail chain turned to Domo two weeks out, as the alternative was 'crossing their fingers', Sephora Asia's Head of Business Intelligence said.

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Beauty retail giant Sephora found itself two weeks out from one of the biggest sales events of the year without a 21st century method for tracking sales and inventory.

Speaking at Domo City Tours in Sydney, Sephora Asia Head of Business Intelligence Christel Bouvron said that when she joined the organisation in October 2016, she was immediately faced with Black Friday and Excel spreadsheets used to manage stock during the sale event.

Quick to implement a data analytics platform that the entire organisation could leverage, Bouvron told Domo that while its BI and data visualisation tools looked "really cool", the organisation had two weeks to implement something that did everything she wanted.

"If you can help build me something that lets me track my sales in real time, then we'll start talking," she recalled telling Domo representatives at the time.

After sketching up what she wanted, Domo a week later shared a draft.

"It distilled it down much more succinctly to the business questions, it allowed us to measure where we were versus our targets across each of the markets we were managing, we added things around inventory because a one-day sale we had inventory counts every time someone purchased something," Bouvron said.

To Bouvron, it was important that the marketing channels weren't advertising products if they were going out of stock.

"It's very powerful, especially for marketing to not be advertising products as they're going out of stock, especially during a really big sale day we've always had stock problems ... we didn't want customers to be upset with us, but saying come get your latest eye shadow palette and then not have it is a big deal," she continued.

Sephora also used the tools to manage website traffic.

With Sephora boasting bricks-and-mortar stores in addition to a heavy online presence, the company is moving its analytics play into the offline world.

"When we first started rolling out Domo, we were focused on the digital commerce side of business, as the data was a lot more readily available there," she explained.

"Then last year, when we launched Fenty, which is Rihanna's makeup brand exclusive at Sephora, that was a huge launch for us and this time we were able to get store data into Domo, and just in time for the launch we were able to show daily sales across every single store, especially for the retail side of the business -- this was a game changer."

An omnichannel approach also gave Sephora the ability to monitor what was being sold at stores.

"At the same time, our brands were asking for updates ... we would have needed an analyst to go deep into the system, pull out data, put it into an Excel file, and send it out every day, including weekends -- so we saved a significant amount of time and we gave the brand access to Domo so they could look at their daily sales updates," Bouvron explained.

Bouvron believes it's important that staff across the business has access to BI and analytics tools, saying the "next-generation organisation is a data-driven one".

"If I look at Sephora Asia, we've got 500 employees just in the office, and then 300 stores; I've got a team of about five people, and so if that analytical data-driven capability just sat within my team, we're a little bit screwed," she added.

"A totally data-driven organisation, every single person in the organisation, including store managers, including the most junior marketing executive, they know what are their metrics they should be checking."

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