The use of data in a business is by no means a new thing, nor is it something that can be dismissed as a fad but, as Pets at Home chief data officer Robert Kent explains, its potential is not yet being realised

In the retail space - one of the more ‘data mature’ industries - businesses have been using data to make better, smarter and more profitable decisions. And for the most part, quite successfully.

Yet they are only scratching the surface. There is far more that can, and should, be done with the information retailers have at their fingertips. However, to do this, retailers first need to address the questions of how, why, and who should be using data within their organisation. The answers to which lie in embedding a strong data culture across your organisation. 

Utilising data to deliver an outstanding experience

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Retailers are striving to provide the best possible service to customers across all channels with the goal of building brand loyalty.

We all know that this relies on a keen understanding of the consumer, underpinned by data collection and analysis. But here’s where many retailers fall short: they make this task the responsibility of one individual or team, and by doing so, create de-facto gatekeepers.

In reality, this structure is limiting their potential for success. Implementing a data culture in your business means that employees across the board must be empowered to use and interpret data to understand customers, accurately anticipate their behaviour, and offer the products and services they need.

At the start of the pandemic, Pets at Home experienced not only a huge shift in customer behaviour, but also an unexpected spike in demand for pet-related products driven by a pet “baby-boom”.

Part of our response was to make online shopping more comfortable and convenient, so we launched our Click & Collect and Deliver from Store services. Behind the scenes, what made these two initiatives so successful was our data culture. By equipping colleagues across all our stores with data analytics tools, we were able to map the performance of the service; its uptake, customer satisfaction, and product performance.

Giving our associates access to these insights allows us to consistently reevaluate areas of improvement to deliver the best service we can overall. 

Implementing a strong data culture

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While data analysis is becoming more embedded across Pets at Home, we started with a blank canvas. We had no team or technology, but with patience and the support of our c-suite, our core team of pioneers has gone from zero to just under 50 in 18 months.

Our aim is to normalise data at the basic level, so everyone can understand it and everyone uses it. This will create much more personalisation and consistency in how we interact with our customers around the country and across channels. 

I’m a big believer in showing by doing rather than telling, and this is what we’re working to achieve at Pets at Home. Someone once said to me, “Rob, stop telling me you’re funny; tell me a joke”. My advice to other retailers is to apply this same mentality when building your strategy.

Creating a data culture is a journey that can bear fruit – if done right.

Robert Kent Pets at Home

Robert Kent is chief data officer at Pets at Home, a customer of data visualisation company Tableau