Public Voting

Category: Data to Decisions

Iaroslav Boutorine

Associate Vice President, Replenishment, Canadian Tire

Supernova Award Category: 
Data to Decisions
The Organization: 

Canadian Tire exists to make life in Canada better by exciting and serving customers from coast-to-coast by providing essential things that Canadians need in their day-to-day lives. Canadian Tire Corporation, Limited, (CTC) is a group of companies that includes a Retail segment, a Financial Services division and CT REIT. Canadian Tire Retail, the largest retail chain in Canada with over 1,700 locations and a bustling e-commerce presence, has provided customers with automotive, hardware, sports, leisure and houseware products for over 100 years. The retail and gasoline outlets are supported by CTC's Financial Services division and the tens of thousands of people employed across Canada and around the world by CTC and its local dealers, franchisees and petroleum retailers.

The Problem: 

Canadian Tire knows that data holds the power to educate and empower various parts of our organization. Our key challenge, however, was providing access to data in a timely fashion. Data was siloed. This often meant we had an incomplete view of the situation at hand, as we were often missing a lot of data. This was compounded by the number of ad hoc requests from business users - as many as ten to fifteen per day. The analytics team struggled to provide timely answers to users in need. 

This also kept us from working on bigger, more strategic business analytics programs and projects, as we were inundated with one-off requests. Take for example, supply chain operations. Due to a shortage of drivers, lack of available warehouse space, and an unclear view of where stock was in their journey from distributor to warehouse to store location, coupled with rising consumer demand, we knew franchisees needed an analytics solution to deliver on their customers’ needs.

The Solution: 

Canadian Tire is now able to make the most of our data thanks to ThoughtSpot. We needed an analytics platform that would enable self-service analytics for our frontline workers so that, for example, a Canadian merchandising manager could ask, “How many windbreakers did we sell in Toronto in April?” and get an answer. ThoughtSpot’s natural language search and AI capabilities were key in the selection process. In the last two years, we implemented new ThoughtSpot Liveboards so merchandising and store floor managers can interact with our data, drill down into a specific product number, and see where it lives within our supply chain network. Across the business, users now have a clear understanding at the store level when the product will arrive, resulting in tighter promotional activities and less stock outs. These kinds of insights were previously only available to the corporate logistics department, but with ThoughtSpot, they are now available to frontline workers.

The Results: 

The impact from ThoughtSpot has been twofold. First, we have been able to provide a true 360-degree view into our products and customers because we can access multiple different data sources at once, breaking free from the data silos and fragmentation that hindered us in the past. Secondly, the speed at which both data professionals and business users can find and act on insights is unparalleled. ThoughtSpot is now used across Canadian Tire by over 4500 employees, many in non-technical roles. Previously, these users would require help from the analytics teams, or would make decisions without the data.  

Now, employees from corporate managers to frontline store operators can instantly and securely analyze trillions of rows of data with a simple, natural language query. For supply chain data specifically, we gave anyone the ability to easily look up the status of delivery by SKU. This has had a domino effect in how we time sales and promotions, ensuring there is stock and, by extension, a positive customer experience. This SKU level view has also uncovered data tracking inconsistencies; for example, a shipment may make it on a ship, but that ship does not depart for another two days. Employees across Canadian Tire now have a much clearer line of sight into the status of the supply chain. Since deploying ThoughtSpot, we have seen tremendous impact and as such has made the Modern Analytics Cloud fundamental to all business operations, from sales to marketing to finance.

Metrics: 

Before ThoughtSpot, we had users regularly interacting with Canadian Tire’s data in various fashion. Now, over 4,500 front-line business users at Canadian Tire use ThoughtSpot to make data-driven decisions across our organization. With ThoughtSpot’s simple, search based platform, users can explore our data to find insights that let them better understand our customers and tap into growth opportunities. The system has seen massive adoption; we have consistently seen employees ask 70,000+ questions per week, on their own, directly against their data to make better inventory and purchasing decisions. The ability to truly serve themselves and search for fast, precise answers has led to a 20% boost in sales over the last couple of years. In the last two years, Canadian Tire has further leveraged ThoughtSpot to improve on time fill rate, an indicator of how much of the demand ordered by Franchisees is arriving on time, by 5-6%, resulting in dozens of million dollars in incremental sales.

The Technology: 

Canadian Tire’s data analytics system is innovative due to both the technology used and the decentralized nature of its rollout. Through ThoughtSpot’s platform, Canadian Tire uses machine learning to analyze a variety of internal sales-related data and external environmental data to spot patterns, such as increases in particular items at individual stores. The system also uses natural language processing, enabling frontline employees to ask their own data questions and get answers.

Disruptive Factor: 

At Canadian Tire, we’re now able to empower every employee to engage with the entirety of our supply chain data, at any level of granularity. This lets us deliver a single source of truth while cultivating a culture of data fluency. Employees can now look up any product number and see where it lives within the Canadian Tire Supply chain network. Whether it’s on the ground, the water or in the air, our users know when the product is going to arrive, resulting in tighter promotional activity, less stock outs at the store level, and ultimately, happier customers and more revenue. In most organizations, this data would only be available within the logistics department. But by sharing access through an intuitive, self-service platform, we have uncovered tighter data tracking and consistency to directly correlate stock out opportunities with sales, or lack thereof. 

Also now, when going back and negotiating with suppliers, we can keep unit economics low, and ensure customers are seeing the best prices, all the way down to the store level. The data insights that employees at all levels, from analysts to executives, can access has helped Canadian Tire as an organization stand apart because customers truly feel the company is putting Canadians first.

Shining Moment: 

We trust that this data will help us to do our jobs well. ThoughtSpot has allowed us to evolve careers. As I recently transitioned from data and analytics to supply chain, ThoughtSpot gave me the insights needed for a fresh perspective to succeed in my role and contribute to the success of the company. If you look at Canadian Tire’s financial performance, we have grown double digits over the last couple of years, a lot of that growth is attributed to accessibility of data.

About Canadian Tire

Canadian Tire makes life in Canada better by exciting and serving customers from coast-to-coast by providing essential things that Canadians need in their daily lives. Canadian Tire Retail, the largest retail chain in Canada with over 1700 locations and a bustling ecommerce presence, has provided customers with automotive, hardware, sports, leisure and houseware products for over 100 years.