Beauty and lifestyle retailer Douglas offers more than 130,000 products across its network of online shops, beauty marketplace, and over 2,000 stores. Based in Düsseldorf, Douglas looks to inspire its customers to live their own kind of beauty with a previously unparalleled assortment of products. 

Formerly a multi-channel retailer, Douglas is now evolving into Europe’s leading digital beauty platform that integrates its shops and marketplace partners on one platform. Snowflake caught up with Thomas Wrobel, the Director of Global Customer Marketing and Data at Douglas, to find out how the company redesigned its digital infrastructure, broke down data silos, and embraced analytics.

A Digital-First Strategy Needs a Powerful Platform

In 2020, Douglas’ online store accounted for more than one billion euros of revenue for the first time. Its ecommerce business platform already accounts for almost 40% of the company’s revenue, and ecommerce sits at the heart of the company’s #FORWARDBEAUTY digital-first strategy.

However, with the increasing speed of digitalization, it quickly became apparent that the beauty company needed to transform its underlying technology. Douglas’ legacy on-premises data warehouse had been developed primarily with retail stores in mind, and it increasingly became a limiting factor for strategic initiatives.  

When the resources of Douglas’ data center needed to be increased, the company decided it needed a modern platform to not only add capacity but to consolidate its data architecture and make data insights more accessible across the business. The goal was for processes to be optimized and simplified.

Transforming High-Value Analytics with Snowflake 

As part of its digital transformation strategy, Douglas selected Snowflake on Azure as its modern platform to eliminate data silos and consolidate data into a holistic database, establishing a single source of truth. 

Snowflake was chosen for its ability to offer unlimited and highly scalable storage and compute power, its user friendliness that ensures data democratization throughout the company, and its ability to enable near real-time data insights.

Douglas gradually implemented new use cases on Snowflake’s platform, prioritizing the ones that added the most value to the business. Data sets such as Douglas’ complete article inventory, the tracking of online revenue, and its organizational structure were among the first to be migrated. This approach made it possible to design the first, high-value analytics use cases for Douglas’ top management early in the transition process.

Enabling Real-Time Analysis for Every Department 

Thanks to Snowflake, Douglas is becoming a more data-driven company. While the company was already capable of real-time analytics in ecommerce, it is now possible for any business unit to conduct data analyses across retail and ecommerce data sets. By breaking down silos and democratizing access to data, Douglas’ employees are able to design and run analyses themselves, without needing to rely on data scientists or BI specialists. 

This process has also increased efficiency across Douglas. According to Wrobel, “Instead of migrating the same data set each week or month for a report, end users can now create the data once and access it in near real time without lots of manual work. This reduces the time employees spend on repetitive work and enables them to spend more time on value-added tasks.”  

“Snowflake reduced the runtime of a test query from over two hours to a mere 40 seconds.”

—Thomas Wrobel, Director of Global Customer Marketing and Data, Douglas    

Adapting to the Pandemic

The first wave of COVID-19 spread through European countries unevenly; lockdowns and reopenings all occurred at different times. By reviewing customer traffic and demand data, Snowflake enabled Douglas to draw lessons from stores in countries that reopened before others.

Douglas used this intelligence to ensure it had the most in-demand products available and the right number of employees in stores in countries that were able to reopen only at later stages. This enabled Douglas to not only operate safely, but also gave the retailer a competitive advantage. 

Harnessing Data for Future Growth

Snowflake is strategically important to Douglas and has democratized data across the organization, meaning that anyone, from a controller to a marketer, can now easily access data without needing additional skills. 

The retailer’s future growth is now tied to how robustly it can leverage this data. Today, business success is closely connected to the quality of the customer experience, whether online or offline. According to Wrobel, there is still a lot of valuable data that Douglas has yet to tap into that will empower it to personalize the shopping experience for all of its customers.

“We will continue to make more data available to people across the company to analyze, draw conclusions from, and improve the business through their individual lenses.”

—Thomas Wrobel, Director of Global Customer Marketing and Data, Douglas