With nearly 500 stores across Canada and the US, New Look Vision Group (NVG) is a leader in the eye care industry. Post the pandemic, they have regrouped to create an online presence through their foray into eCommerce, launching virtual try-on to support frame selections from the comfort of customers’ homes. To ensure that they exceed customers’ expectations, fulfil internal stakeholders' needs and support their expanding business operations well - they procured Microsoft BI and Power BI Stack. It has led to elimination of manual errors, performance improvement, and to cost savings.
New Look Vision Group Inc (NVG) is a leader in the eye care industry with a network of nearly 500 stores operating mainly under the banners New Look Eyewear, Vogue Optical, Greiche & Scaff, Iris, and Edward Beiner across Canada and select US markets. They also have laboratories backed by state-of-the-art technologies. Their product portfolio comprises Sunglasses, Ophthalmic Lenses, Eyeglasses, Contact Lenses and Frames for all age groups. To support evolving customer needs, necessitated since the onset of the pandemic, the NVG Group launched a measurement-enabled virtual try-on product, a first in the world, leading to newer customer behavior and its data.
The importance of data analysis for taking critical business decisions was known to the employees at different levels of the firm. “But across the group, different banners and the departments within these were doing their fulfillment Excel-based data analysis for better business understanding,” says Sikandar Azam, Senior Director, Enterprise Data and Business Intelligence at New Look Vision Group.
“We were putting in a lot of effort but these were scattered and siloed and were marred by inconsistencies both in the aspects of analysis and the format in which data was getting captured due to which the reporting was heavily delayed. We needed to standardize our data analytics efforts and eliminate siloed manual efforts to boost our productivity.”
New Look Vision Group needed a unified data estate with strict data governance and defined rules at dimensions and facts levels. “We realized a normalized data warehouse could act as a foundation to eliminate the inconsistencies in our data,” says Mr. Azam.
But this was not it, some practices required efforts to change user behaviors. One such practice was prevalent with the procurement team for managing inventories and fulfilling shopper demand. They were connecting the ERP directly with an excel spreadsheet and with repeated use, it was morphed into a large, complex file prone to manual errors and delays in placing procurement requests.
“With the help of the Polestar Solutions team, we managed to set up an Inventory cube. Now, users have an Inventory cube which they can consume in Excel via connecting with an SSAS cube. The data is normalized and easy to understand with all predefined metrics available to them, “ explains Mr. Azam.
The centralized data warehouse acts as an easily accessible reservoir for clean data. Departments extract and transform this data for their day-to-day use without any discrepancies and additional efforts for validating the authenticity of the source that in turn leads to efficient and superior operations.
For a retail chain like NVG, well-oiled business performance is a function of streamlined operations across sales, finance, procurement and supply chain. But the existing processes were not responding well to the operational changes of other departments, primarily due to inconsistent practices. They needed a data analytics platform to focus on business reporting and visualization to bring crucial business numbers in front of business stakeholders for streamlined operations and cross-functional collaborations.
“With my prior experience with Microsoft BI stack, we started implementing Power BI for our reporting and automation purposes. We opted for a hybrid model with 70 user licenses for on-premises Power BI Report Server and 5 Power BI SaaS licenses. Since the scope of the requirements was huge, we reached out to the Polestar Solutions team for their expertise with SSAS Cubes and Power BI Dashboards,” states Sikandar.
Before, they were pulling the reports once a week as they used to take hours. “Prior to setting up Power BI Report Server, finance users would take about 8 hours (2 hours X 4 users) every Monday to prepare the weekly sales report using data from manually reconciled Excel files. After implementing automation of sales data and production of the weekly reports takes just 5 seconds, “ says Mr. Azam. “Additionally, users can now generate these reports on their own, interact, drill-down, add comments and download the report for their own analysis, attach to their email weekly and share it across.”
NVG used the pandemic as an opportunity to accelerate its innovation roadmap. In particular, it launched a new remote measurement and virtual try-on service, supported by a video conference with an optician, to help customers select and buy glasses without needing to go into a physical store. With this, customers can scan their faces in the mobile app which draws a detailed map with 20,000 of measurements and quickly comes with a frame recommendation basis their face capture. Customers can then virtually try on frames, add lenses, and complete their purchase.
“Not only that, but the app also allows them to book a virtual appointment with an optician integrated with GoToMeeting software”, adds Mr. Azam. “Early on it was crucial for the business to gauge how customers are responding to this new model. Our new VTO dashboards were produced manually, which was time-consuming. With Polestar’s help, we were able to automate them into Power BI. These dashboards helped our omnichannel group capture crucial customer touchpoints, forecast demand and generate insights/feedback for possible adjustments required.”
This image highlight some of the other reports that were automated basis the criticality for the business operations:
Store Performance Report: Region-wise store visits & transactions drill-through reports
NVG Corporate Sales Report: Overall label-wise business sales performance report
IT Support Center Report: An overview of tickets and priority-wise closure reports
Product Sales Report: Category, store & region-wise sales reports with insights on key parameters
Distribution Centre Dashboard: Stock level, inventory, and order fulfillment & distribution timelines
VTO Dashboard - Details on customer journey through mobile app try-ons to conversions
CMO Dashboard - Info on traffic and revenue through email, social channels, eCommerce, etc.
“Coordinating with the Polestar Solutions team has been a delightful experience. Since there is a time zone the difference, we literally meet in the middle and the team has been very professional and supportive to lend their ears, responding diligently and quickly turning around the proposed changes or activities. With me being an early riser and someone who starts his day sooner than the most, I personally enjoy this setup,” opines Mr. Azam.
“What stands out for me is the Polestar team’s approach. These folks do not just limit themselves to operational tasks, but they bring their own ideas and thoughts into the activities. They know their role, why they are building a dashboard or a cube and which visuals to use and what all metrics reports should capture to make life easier for the end-users. Lastly but very importantly, they build these fantastic Power BI dashboards that I and the end-users are in awe of,” adds Mr. Azam.
The reports and dashboards delivered offer near real-time business-level metrics at the executive’s level such as sales revenue reports across stores, filtered through regions and categories. Whereas for business users at mid-level like store managers, the reports capture the most granular details pertinent to their decision-making to assess the operations across finance, sales, and procurement teams. The store managers can see the Opto-availability, exam reports, and total Opto-exams conducted. The distribution centers can track the inventory availability, get insights into fast-selling units, and pre-raise the fulfillment orders in case of shortages. The finance team can track overall business performance and drill down as required without lots of manual intervention.
These reports are available on their iPads backed by the Power BI App and link to the company VPNs. Users can download these reports as PowerPoint Presentations or PDFs and directly embed charts and graphs into any existing files. It generates more value from the data and pushes the boundaries with quicker and innovative business processes.
Sikandar Azam, Senior Director, Enterprise Data and Business Intelligence
New Look Vision Group, Canada
The vision ahead is to expand it out to all the remaining banners under the NVG and offer these benefits at each store level. We also want to replicate this powerful use of data in HR practice with use cases across Payroll, Employee Retention, and Performance. Some advanced analytics applications like demand prediction & forecasting plus some AI capabilities for auto-insight generation are also on cards.