Intersport boosts analytics, marketing efficiency with Knime

Using the BI vendor's platform, the sporting goods retailer has reduced staff needed to attend to data, decreased time to build data workflows and improved marketing campaigns.

Since deploying Knime as its analytics platform, Intersport has dramatically improved the efficiency of its analytics workflow and increased the effectiveness of its marketing campaigns.

Intersport, founded in 1968 and based in Bern, Switzerland, is a sporting goods retailer with 5,800 locations in 60 countries. Most of its outlets are in Europe, but the company also has a significant presence in Canada and Australia and is expanding into China and Africa.

Knime, meanwhile, is an analytics vendor founded in 2004 and based in Zurich, Switzerland, whose most recent platform update featured a modernized user interface, a new environment for Python users and expanded integration with Snowflake.

The problem

Three years ago, the analytics system Intersport used to fuel its marketing campaigns was slow, labor-intensive and costly.

The company's data comes from various sources, including Salesforce to monitor sales information; enterprise resource planning tools to understand which items are in stock and which need to be ordered; and Google Analytics to monitor web page views.

But instead of getting automatically uploaded into a modern data warehouse or data lake where it could be easily blended and prepared for analysis, the disparate data had to be manually moved into a database. And then once in the database, data had to be manually joined.

As a result of all the manual work needed to use the data, it wasn't easy for business users to access. Instead, it was overseen by a group of dedicated data workers who controlled the flow of data and access to that data.

"It was quite complex, and things weren't really connected," Gianpaolo Valenti, Intersport's global data and analytics director, said in a webinar hosted by Knime. "It was quite time-consuming."

In addition, when problems arose, it was difficult to discover the root cause of the problem given that most of the process was manually executed by different people and there was no way to automatically search for what might be one mistake among millions of lines of code.

"Often, there would be an issue and it was difficult to be in control of what was happening," Valenti said.

The combination of labor-intensive tasks done manually rather than by automation added up to an expensive overall process of preparing data to inform marketing campaigns, Valenti added.

Knime's Sasha Rezvina and Intersport's Gianpaolo Valenti
Sasha Rezvina (left), director of product marketing at Knime, speaks with Gianpaolo Valenti, global data and analytics director at Intersport, during a webinar.

Addressing the problem

Valenti joined Intersport in 2019 and was tasked with improving the company's analytics operations.

By that time, he was familiar with Knime, having first used the analytics platform about four years earlier. When he took over as Intersport's global data and analytics director, rather than try out various analytics platforms to find the best fit for Intersport, he knew he wanted to adopt Knime and went about convincing Intersport's data stakeholders.

Primarily, he had to convince the members of Intersport's existing IT department that it was in Intersport's best interests for them to cede control of the data to enable a more efficient process and more widespread data-informed decision-making.

"When I joined Intersport, I had to build the strategy for analytics and that was a good moment to say, 'I think we should start using Knime,' and officially we've been using it the last three years," Valenti said.

To convince Intersport's data stakeholders, Valenti set out a series of clear goals -- higher profits, better brand awareness, improved inventory management and higher customer acquisition -- and his team used Knime's analytics capabilities to help develop a marketing campaign on a small scale.

Following the success of that pilot program, Valenti gained the support of Intersport data stakeholders and the company deployed Knime on a more widespread basis.

Now, Knime is at the heart of Intersport's analytics operations.

Using connectors that automate data intake, data from Salesforce, ERP systems and Google Analytics flows into data warehouses and data lakes that are connected to Knime. From those warehouses and lakes, data moves into Knime where it's automatically blended and prepared.

Some data then gets sent automatically to users via email, alerts or scheduled reports, while other data sits ready for analysis whenever a user might need it.

Meanwhile, it's easier to correct mistakes given the data visibility Knime provides, according to Valenti.

It's now much easier to merge all the data together. You can do data blending with simple joins, and in the case of mistakes, it's much easier to troubleshoot because you can visualize all the logic with Knime and quickly understand where a mistake occurred.
Gianpaolo ValentiGlobal data and analytics director, Intersport

"It's now much easier to merge all the data together," he said. "You can do data blending with simple joins, and in the case of mistakes, it's much easier to troubleshoot because you can visualize all the logic with Knime and quickly understand where a mistake occurred."

The result

In the three years since Intersport first chose Knime as its analytics platform, the sporting goods retailer has seen notable improvements in the efficiency of its analytics operations and effectiveness of the marketing campaigns the company's data is used to inform.

According to Valenti, Knime's automation capabilities has resulted in a 60% reduction in the number of team members required to manage and prepare data on a daily basis. In addition, those team members are now freed up from repetitive tasks to do more in-depth data analysis.

It now takes Intersport 50% less time to build workflows. And with so much of the process automated, troubleshooting is faster in 80% of the cases than it was before Intersport began using Knime.

Finally, marketing campaign effectiveness is up 80% over previous levels.

"The enrichment of our data has changed completely," Valenti said. "We use Knime as an orchestration tool to blend all our data, and we've been able automate a lot of [the process]."

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