Managing the data running through Asics

Chris Drouin of Asics Digital deals with consumer analytics and insights, machine learning models and data-driven solutions. He spoke to Toni Sekinah about the dream at Asics, a sports brand specialising in running shoes, of a single customer view as well as the benefit of moving to a cloud-based data warehouse.

Drouin serves as manager of Advanced Analytics at Asics Digital. He and his team are working towards a single customer view of the 50 million customers of the brand’s footwear and sportswear apps as well as users of the Asics Studio and RunKeeper apps.

Part of what drives this is his dislike of treating a customer as if every interaction was the first interaction with them, even though there may have been several encounters and purchases in the past. He said: “It is not a good experience to have somebody who has been running with RunKeeper for 10 years and say to them ‘Hey, would you like a beginners course to run your first 5k?’

“We’ve got a lot of features in the pipeline.”

To avoid this, he and his team are using a CRM solution with features that personalise the experience for the users and customers. One tool Asics is using is Salesforce Marketing Cloud to connect and communicate with customers. Asics employees globally also have access to Tableau dashboards which they use to “jump in” and answer questions from data directly.

“We’ve got a lot of features in the pipeline, particularly for our fitness apps users, so RunKeeper and Asics Studio, where we’re looking at ways to take that information and make their experience that much better and that much smarter,” said Drouin. Asics Digital is also using cloud-based data warehouse Snowflake to help with this.

Drouin said: “One of the things from the Snowflake perspective that I am looking forward to is the data exchange that they have set up where we can start potentially layering in data from other sources so that we know some of the context that somebody is operating in, like weather, so that we can provide that insight.”

He said that before the implementation of the cloud-based data warehouse, Asics used Amazon Redshift which was an improvement from the previous solution they used. “Previously we would take a production database and make a replica of it,” he said. However, he said that he and his team encountered problems on Redshift as well.

Drouin said: “We started to encounter some bottlenecks and maintenance issues. We were constantly filling up the available storage space on a Redshift cluster and when that happens the only real solution was to take the RedShift cluster down, add new capacity to it, and rebuild the whole thing. It was a somewhat time-consuming process.”

In the long term, he would ideally like Asics to be able to gain an understanding of how users feel about all its products including the shoes, apparel and fitness apps. “Data is going to power all that and help us make our decisions.”

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