Modern Data Platform

Retail & Consumer Goods

Marketer Features Novel Product Insights with Innovative Azure-Based Reporting

Moving top-brand consumer goods products off store shelves is the chief priority for a North American sales and marketing giant. More than 30,000 employees across 100-plus offices work directly inside retailers and behind the scenes to keep products selling. 

On the front lines, close to 16,000 staff members keep stock visible, organized, and accurately priced across North American retail stores. Backstage, nearly 600 analysts focus on metric-based measurements to gauge product success.

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The marketer recently decided to expand the vast analytics capabilities it already offered to the manufacturers it partners with. It collaborated with BlueGranite to design and implement an advanced Azure solution that features even deeper proprietary analytics offerings, and largely automates a once onerous report building process.

Massive Datasets Needed Hands-on Manipulation

Business managers behind the marketer’s operations analyze product sales, market share, and promotions to drive revenue and increase market share. They use pre-aggregated, syndicated North American sales data from multiple sources and match it with other information to get deep product insight.

Building proprietary reports was a substantial, time-consuming process. The multi-sourced, raw product datasets had to be manually mashed together to create each report across the company’s vast client network. Complicated, inconsistent information added to an already immense workload. 

Working with the marketer’s business management and IT departments we collaboratively built an Azure analytics and data platform to automate the formerly tedious, inefficient report building process; it refreshes data weekly and monthly, pulling information for multiple clients from five source systems into a consolidated data model to create in-depth product overviews. A set of client-agnostic, metadata-driven code allows consultants here to analyze at least 160 categories of data, such as weekly distribution and individual sales for countless products. While the solution currently incorporates several major manufacturers, it can scale out to accommodate any number of clients.

BlueGranite designed a separate, but complementary project for the marketer, based on image recognition, that assists the more than 16,000-person retail team with its work across 280,000 stores, including ensuring products are in stock, on end caps, and priced correctly. Management with the marketer use an exclusive application to direct retail team members as they complete in-store tasks. Once they complete each job, those employees photograph their finished work and upload it to the app. BlueGranite used Azure’s Cognitive Services Vision API to analyze those pictures, flag issues, and to ensure quality task completion.

Cloud-First Technology Revolutionizes Report Builds 

BlueGranite helped the marketing giant build a cost-effective, cloud-first modern reporting solution. Azure components drive the solution, which feature machine learning and AI capabilities, and user-created reports with Power BI and Power BI Premium's rich, interactive dashboards.

The consolidated, standardized, modern reporting solution combines key proprietary data with multisource, pre-aggregated syndicated data. It includes Azure services such as Functions, Blob Storage, Data Factory, Databricks, Data Lake Store, Logic Apps, Analysis Services, and DevOps, and also features Power BI. The economical solution eliminates the need for a custom build for each of the marketer’s many major clients.

Modern Data Platform Built to Evolve 

This streamlined, scalable, dynamic Azure platform multiplies the marketer’s capabilities, as well as its offerings, and holds the potential to vastly increase profits. It also holds promise for countless future machine learning and AI capabilities. Reporting that once took hundreds of analysts endless hours to pull off is now largely automated. The business managers, who formerly spent the majority of their time manually building client reports, now devote that additional time to working directly with clients to boost profits. 

BlueGranite’s additional image recognition and evaluation application helps this company’s management oversee and direct the in-store retail team to ensure quality. Future AI possibilities include a project that looks for opportunities or strategic influencers within a client’s data.

The Azure platform holds massive potential for the marketer’s current customers, as well as future ones, as it allows ease of incorporation, both of new customers and parameters, and offers rapid results. A system that once required a development solution for each new client now only requires the click of a few buttons to bring customers onboard.  

Technical Overview

  • Instituted new advanced analytics and machine learning capabilities in a single unified platformallowing for more complex modeling than previously possible. 

  • Improved capabilities to investigate retail at greater scale will improve product sales. 

  • Designed a platform that makes use of the marketer’s existing skill sets. 

  • Uncovered opportunities, including a way to look for additional prospects or strategic influencers within a client’s data, and integration with a management application. 

  • Created a solid platform for future machine learning and AI capabilities.