Case Study

How the global leading provider of retail analytics is using Tocabot to accelerate their growth

Retail Insight are the world’s leading providers of store-focussed retail analytics solutions. The company started 14 years ago in the original CEO’s kitchen with just three people, and has since grown into a market leading company.

Retail Insight work for both retailers and suppliers, providing data-driven insights that help them run their businesses more effectively and make better decisions. They work with some of the biggest names in grocery retail, from Tesco and Morrisons to Walmart. In order to keep up their stellar reputation in the marketplace, Retail Insight have to be able to deliver services based on thousands of data points, and while providing the service wasn’t an issue, gathering the data was proving to be the bottleneck in the business.

The Problem

For a business like Retail Insight, data is critical. While their business isn’t strictly about downloading data, they do a huge amount of it to support the analytics work they do for their clients. John Paul explains:

“We get the suppliers sales data and we do some analytics around it and produce things like the round shelf availability, order frequency, waste rates, wholesale compliance and all those key in-store measures that they use to go and make sure that certain products are on the shelf.”

“The only way we can get the suppliers data is by going onto their Extranet sites and pulling their sales data down, which is all very manual. We were at the point where we had three or four contracts where we had to go and download data on the day in the morning before the suppliers get online, and have everything ready for them. As we expanded that meant more people had to use their time to do nothing but pull down data manually, and with each new client we took on we needed a percentage of a person to do that manual work.”

When a business associate suggested John Paul speak to the team at Tocalabs about automation, he was intrigued, and decided to see what we could offer.

“We were staring down the barrel of having to bring in six or seven people to just do the data. People who would work from 6am until 10am just downloading data every day of the week, and we didn’t want to do that.”

“Our first meeting with Tocalabs was just me explaining what our problem was. How we needed to move the data away from the human resource and not hire in more, and free up what our people were already doing. I didn’t want to get loads of downloaders, and the work they’re doing is very repetitive, very manual and it doesn’t change day to day, week to week. We were staring down the barrel of having to bring in six or seven people to just do the data. People who would work from 6am until 10am just downloading data every day of the week, and we didn’t want to do that. The guys at Tocalabs eyes lit up as I told them this and said that was something they could help with. That was the beginning of it really.”

The Solution

Since Retail Insight needed to be able to locate, download, process and groom thousands of data points from hundreds of different systems for each customer, the solution provided needed to be intelligent, flexible and replicable. There couldn’t be a tailored solution for each client’s individual systems since that would mean hundreds of bespoke solutions. Instead, they needed a single, common way of working that is platform independent, that could go into all of these sites and pull down the data needed.

“Tocalabs suggested using robotic workers who could pull down the data that our people could use as a roadmap for clients, getting better insights. That sounded ideal to me. So after he walked the guys through the process, Tocalabs gave us a few log-ins, presented us with what they’d built and showed us how it worked.”

After a series of discussions with the ground level workers who would be using the solution, we deployed three bots, which would be hosted within the Tocabot cloud. This meant that Retail Insight only had to pay a single monthly subscription, and not a huge outlay for infrastructure. The platform gave workers the freedom to automate the heavily manual elements of their work on demand – like data downloading and processing – and free up their time for more valuable work.

“It was only about a week from that initial conversation to having the solution up and running. It was amazing. We started by testing it on one client, but now we’ve taken it and done it for all of our clients – just replicated it out. It’s been very easy for the guys. Tocalabs are always on call when we need them, even if it’s just to tell them what’s working well or what we’d like it to do. They’ve taken all that on board and we’ve contributed to the road map of where the product will go.”

After spending some time getting used to the system, we asked John Paul how the transition had been, and how his team had adjusted to this new, augmented way of working.

“It’s been easier than we thought it would be.  From what I’ve seen it seems very intuitive, point and click, drag and drop type stuff. I mean, I’ve had to script something out occasionally, but it seems very easy to use and move resource around when you need it.”

But the biggest impact of all wasn’t with John  Paul, it was with one of his team – who until then had spent most of her time doing those manual data downloads.

“Now Victoria, our main data downloader, is actually doing more analytics and strategy, so it’s had a big impact on her and the joy she gets from her job. We try out a lot of tools in what we do, but they don’t stick very often and usually get abandoned. We’ve tried maybe 20 or 30 solutions for the business, that have never stuck, and it gets frustrating for everyone. So for something to stick in the business and make such an impact is great.”

The Impact

For John Paul and his team at Retail Insight, the impact has been very noticeable. For Victoria in particular, her day to day work life now looks very different:

“It’s allowed us to now bring on as many clients as we want without taking on human resource. So now we’ve got one person who manages all those downloads, which took a team of about five or six people before”

“It takes a lot off my plate. I do some very, very boring mundane jobs that are very, very repetitive, so having something like this is good because it’s not boring. I’m not good with Python or Selenium or coding in general, so it’s good to have the drag and drop style interface too. It makes it really intuitive, like anyone can use it. And all the guys at Tocalabs have been really, really helpful. They’re always there if you need them.”

John Paul adds that the impact hasn’t just been positive for the employees:

“It’s allowed us to now bring on as many clients as we want without taking on human resource. So now we’ve got one person who manages all those downloads, which took a team of about five or six people before. And now we can actually give better service by pulling extra data from openly available information or polling other databases. It could really help us for data collection in the future, since our business isn’t actually about the repetitive things. It’s more around creating analytics and software for our clients, and the software is helping us keep the clients we’ve got and keep growing.”

“I don’t think the customers have noticed any change in our quality of service. But for us it just means we can scale quicker and cheaper. If we take on another 10-20 customers, then we can just buy an extra couple of bots to handle the load, instead of three to four human resources that would be a huge cost in management, time, training and so on. It’s a much better solution.”

“If I had to give them a score, they’d be a 10, definitely. I would definitely recommend them to potential clients. Maybe not competitors though!”

At Tocalabs, we are dedicated to helping businesses realise their true potential through automation, AI and Intelligent Automation solutions. Our team work closely with businesses like Retail Insight to provide tailored Intelligent Automation and AI software solutions that do exactly what you need them to do, when you need them to do it. We understand the challenges that come with implementing intelligent automation in your business, and our solutions are designed to make that process as simple and streamlined as possible. With our help, your business processes could be automated to flow seamlessly and efficiently, without any of the growing pains.

Our experts understand what it takes to make Intelligent Automation successful within your business, and will work with you to achieve your goals and make your business run smoothly at all times. To find out more, get in touch with the Tocalabs team today.

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