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Advantage Solutions: How Data and Advanced Analytics Are Shaping The Future of E-Commerce.

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The Client
Project Category
Data Warehouse
Advanced Analytics
Reporting and Dashboarding
Strategy
Automation
Industry Vertical
Retail Merchandizing | E-Commerce | Sales and Marketing
Timeline
Since 2021

Winning In The E-Commerce Space Means Having A Solid Data Strategy.

“Whatever the present circumstance, there is always a better solution.”

That was the guiding principle of Sonny King, Founder of Advantage Solutions more than 30 years ago.

Today, Advantage is an industry leader offering customizable and technology-enabled sales and marketing solutions using real-time data driven insights to empower brands and retailers to grow sales, lower costs and solve problems.

Advantage’s unique perspective to identify needs, pain points and areas of opportunity has been a benchmark of the company’s strategy and has allowed it to proactively invest in advanced technologies, seize opportunities and acquire analogous businesses along the way.

But outside the walls of their traditional brick and mortar clients was an emerging sector – a fast growing niche of companies dedicated to helping independent and large-scale retailers and manufacturers navigate the often unforgiving and ever evolving ecosystem of managing online marketplaces like Amazon.

So, in 2014, Advantage began making several strategic acquisitions to enrich their digital commerce line of business, with a primary focus on companies that delivered a deep knowledge of client-side online marketplace optimization. In short, these companies are experts in tailoring brand-first driven strategies that help retailers and manufacturers navigate several critical factors within marketplace ecosystems, including: brand management; listing optimization; price monitoring; advertising; data-mining research; logistics, and customer review management.  

These marketplaces are not one size fits all. To have a winning e-commerce business, you need access to actionable, real-time data. Without it, businesses fly blind, guessing what might work, while wasting valuable time and resources on strategies that do not deliver results. Having rich, actionable data allows businesses to fine-tune their operations for maximum efficiency and profitability.

For Advantage to scale and build upon existing systems with their newly acquired acquisitions, they needed a technology partner with the experience to deliver a data strategy and build a unified data warehouse and create a data-driven culture with up-to-the-minute analytics, giving leaders a clear view of operations while improving efficiencies and effectiveness across a myriad of disparate sources.

What We Did
Developed a powerful SaaS-built data warehouse on Azure with Snowflake
Implementation on Azure Services, including: API Management, Blub Storage and .NET
Constructed an ETL to deliver fully managed, serverless hybrid data integration with Azure Data Factory
Implemented an array of AWS services, including: CloudWatch, IAM, SQS, Seller Central APIs and Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3)
Data visualization via Microsoft Power BI and Microsoft Power Automate to streamline repetitive tasks and paperless processes

The business challenge: From flying blind to actionable insights in real-time.

Data is the lifeblood of e-commerce. It not only helps businesses understand who their customers are, what they want, and how to market to them, it is also critical in determining how sellers approach their overall strategy within the marketplace itself.

Manufacturers and retailers must navigate a myriad of omni-channel layers that all require tremendous insights to stay ahead of the curve and remain competitive. And because e-commerce data exists almost entirely in a virtual space, it generates complex and comprehensive datasets that must be aligned to business processes to provide anything meaningful.

The challenges Advantage faced was twofold: management needed access to data in a timely manner along with an analytics solution that would allow leaders in key departments to make decisions faster and with more accuracy.

Without this, Advantage’s Digital Commerce unit was essentially flying blind. Lacking any IT infrastructure, leadership was forced to rely on several different island systems all pulling from disparate sources leading to fragmented, conflicting, and poor data quality.

And, without any automation in place, manual intervention was required. Departments were tasked with combining, unifying, and massaging this information into excel spreadsheets and using basic third-party software tools to generate reports. Without a unified system, management was left to make decisions based on data that was weeks, and in some instances, months old.  

This severely hindered any attempts to parse, measure and analyze any key performance indicators (KPIs) within a product’s category, while reducing the visibility on how well a product was selling, the inability to align purchasing orders from vendors with sales systems, and uncertainty with warehouse management systems for shipping and delivery.

From The Client
Our operational challenges have been extremely difficult to manage and [they] have demonstrated a high level of technical expertise, integrity, professionalism and teamwork.
– Kendrick Oates, Product Manager at Advantage Solutions

Winning In The E-Commerce Space

In 2021, e-commerce sales amounted to approximately $4.9 trillion worldwide, according to Statista – a leading provider of market and consumer data. That figure is forecast to grow by 50 percent over the next four years, reaching nearly $7.4 trillion by 2025.

The complex e-commerce ecosystem is fraught with monthly, weekly, daily, and even hourly changes that include factors like pricing strategies, customer segmentation, search optimization and rankings, and product reviews.  

Winning on marketplaces like Amazon and its 5-million-plus sellers requires tremendous dedication lead by actionable insights. And in order to understand the ins and outs, companies must be laser focused on every aspect of the buyers journey to deliver a seamless experience, while improving operational effectiveness and efficiency along the way.

After analyzing the business processes during a month-long discovery phase, InfoMagnus analysts and technology consultants concluded that Advantage needed a holistic, comprehensive, end-to-end solution – one that would allow team leaders to get access to near real-time data allowing key stakeholders to respond quickly to market factors and adjust the course of action if needed – ultimately transforming Advantage into a data driven business.

To meet the requirements, InfoMagnus designed and implemented a data warehouse that integrated several outside sources from the most important operational systems by bringing everything into a centralized location daily. The data is modeled in a way that is aligned with Advantage’s reporting and analytics needs via several dashboards and analytics solutions for different domains of the business, including: sales and brand management, inventory management, sales summary dashboards, and advertising trend analysis.

Accelerated Growth With Data And Analytics

As a trusted technology partner, InfoMagnus was able to deliver a centralized data warehouse and analytics solution on-time and on budget using several advanced technologies that will allow Advantage’s digital commerce units to absorb large amounts of information, while providing high level visibility within several category metrics.

From a solution standpoint, InfoMagnus developed a completely new SaaS-based data warehouse using Snowflake hosted on Azure cloud to facilitate secure data storage, enable real-time analytics and enterprise-wide data sharing. This combination of cloud-based computing allows Advantage team members to view diverse data sets in a single, native system.

In an effort to accelerate growth InfoMagnus technologist architected unified API management capabilities to streamline workflows across hybrid and multicloud environments, while giving Advantage teams the ability to automate repetitive tasks and boost efficiency all within a customized dashboard.

Thinking ahead, the data platform is designed to be expandable allowing for scale, utilizing timely data driven insights with the ability – in the future – to build intelligence and AI capabilities to not only look at the historical, but to predict what is going to happen in the future with recommended actions.

Becoming A Data Driven Business

Without the right tools in place, it's difficult for businesses to make data-driven decisions.

Advantage's transformation into a data-driven business has allowed the company to overcome the challenges it faced with management's access to timely data and accurate analytics. The implementation of a data warehouse by InfoMagnus has given Advantage the ability to respond quickly to market factors and make adjustments as needed creating a more efficient and effective operation overall.

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