Founded in 1921, the SAQ imports, distributes, and sells a wide selection of wines, beers, and spirits. Its sales network includes 409 stores and 429 agency stores across Québec, as well as the e-commerce website SAQ.com.
In 2015, the new Inspire personalization program was expected to generate high volumes of data for the SAQ’s analytics tool. With saturation becoming a concern, a more powerful tool to manage all these data was needed.
Using Alteryx Designer, the team experienced an exceptional boost in productivity and performance. It was then able to optimize its properties and maximize total store square footage from 1,969,700 sq. ft. in 2017 to 1,934,100 sq. ft. in 2021.
Founded in 1921, the Société des alcools du Québec (SAQ) imports, distributes, and sells a wide selection of wines, beers, and spirits. Its sales network includes 409 stores and 429 agency stores across Québec, as well as the e-commerce website SAQ.com. With rent being one of the SAQ’s major expenses, analyzing and optimizing each of its locations is critical. This is the main role of the SAQ’s property development team.
By pairing location-based data with consumer habits, location analysts can perform targeted market studies to effectively inform property decisions. One thing they check is whether stores align with the needs of the customer base in terms of location, size, type of branding, and product selection.
By identifying trends, the team is in a better position to support decision-making and the organization’s performance objectives. They run analyses that result in various actions being taken in the network: relocation, rebranding, implementation, mergers, reduction in size, and more.
The property development department was previously using a geographic information system (GIS) for location analysis. The results were satisfactory, and the team was always able to accomplish its goals, but efficiency was a problem. The data had to undergo extensive manipulations before it was ready for analysis, and this was at a time when the volume of data was fairly limited.
Not only did the location analysts have to manually prepare, extract, and convert the data, but they also had to study each store one at a time. To see the interaction between multiple stores, this operation had to be repeated as many times as there were outlets to analyze. It could take weeks to paint a complete picture of a sector.
“I could only process one case at a time even if I knew very well that there was interaction with different stores nearby,” recalls SAQ location analyst Marco Mercier.
The workload was heavy and taxing, and the team wasn’t always thrilled with the results.
In 2015, the SAQ launched its personalization program called Inspire. One of the goals of the program was to get a better understanding of customers’ spending habits and tastes. The property development department had serious concerns about the existing application’s ability to process the massive influx of data generated from this new program. It was in need of a new analytics tool.
“What we needed was a tool that could appropriately delve into this goldmine of information and let us explore and unlock analytical possibilities.”
– Marco Mercier
The SAQ appointed Korem as a consultant to identify an alternative solution to what it was using at the time. “Korem being a one-stop shop, we knew the company had the market knowledge and range of products to help us find a better solution,” adds Mr. Mercier.
Korem’s experts prepared a report comparing multiple solutions and recommending the best of them based on the SAQ’s objectives and needs. “Korem understood our department’s needs in no time,” Mr. Mercier adds.
After examining the report, the SAQ team quickly recognized that Alteryx Designer met all the criteria they were looking for and offered an unprecedented level of analytical potential. In the blink of an eye, the analysts had acquainted themselves with the new tool and were able to run a variety of analyses offering improved insight into the evolution of the SAQ’s store network. Still in use some years later, Alteryx remains the best solution for performing location analyses.
Since switching to Alteryx, the team has reveled in the fact that they have a tool that can process high volumes of data. In only a month, the Inspire program had more than a million active members. That number has since risen to 1.8 million today.
Data on Inspire members still undergoes a thorough anonymization process at the source before being stored in a single workflow, making it possible to analyze multiple stores at once. This translates into a major improvement in productivity for analysts, who can now have a better understanding of the context of a store’s performance while ensuring full compliance with customer privacy policies.
Data automation and automatic report creation also save time. Since the analysts are connected directly to the databases, they no longer need to validate data. And thanks to Alteryx’s visualization tools, creating graphs in Excel is a thing of the past. Now, when the team is asked to create a report on a store, it is able to respond to the request in a matter of hours. “Every chapter in our report is premade using workflows. We have our report in a few hours, and all we have to do is analyze it and interpret it.”
Taking advantage of the time Korem saved them, the analysts have had the opportunity to develop new performance indicators per store and per region. They can exploit Inspire data in depth and be more creative with their analyses. They were previously restricted to just locating trade areas, but now they can cover much more ground. Alteryx Designer has therefore unleashed the analytical possibilities.
“We’re doing analyses we never could have done before. Analyses that go way beyond location. We can get performance information on the physical network based on multiple criteria.”
– Marco Mercier
Optimized square footage
More advanced analyses
The property optimization that took place from 2017 to 2021 with the help of Alteryx Designer reduced the total store surface from 1,969,700 square feet to 1,934,100 square feet, which had the effect of increasing sales per square foot.
So, with Alteryx and the new analyses developed using the tool, the SAQ’s property department is all set to make the best possible optimizations. The property development team is analyzing a variety of elements like customers’ demographic and socio-economic characteristics as well as how long it takes them to drive to stores. With the rising popularity of online shopping, additional dimensions can be added to the analyses, like comparing the popularity of products sold in stores and online.
Using Alteryx, the SAQ, together with the property team, is well equipped to adapt to new retail trends and discern the needs of its customers, expressed through a variety of touchpoints, both virtual and brick-and-mortar.