Overstock: Revolutionizing data and analytics to connect soulfully with their customers

By | November 20, 2015

You know Overstock.com right? The website where you can get more than a million different items – clothing, household, jewelry, electronics, you name it. But Overstock is much more than that – self proclaiming that it is a company with a soul. What does that mean?

“One of the things that I would say is really distinctive about Overstock compared to other companies that I’ve worked for is we really are about being soulful and doing the right thing; and there’s a kindness and a generosity at the executive leadership level that I think comes across in some of the extras that we have on the website right.” – Mohican Laine, Senior Director of Enterprise Business Intelligence and Reporting

Mohican Laine Sr. Dir. of Enterprise Intelligence & Reporting

Mohican Laine
Sr. Dir. of Enterprise Intelligence & Reporting

So where does data and analytics play in this soulful space? Everywhere! Founded in 1999 as a small, online product liquidator, Overstock has grown into a data-driven company with a culture of innovation – creating a dominant brand with revenue of $1.5B in 2014.

“Well it’s really an exciting time at Overstock, particularly with the centralization of our analytics and reporting group.  We have the support of the CEO who’s very passionate about data and is very adamant that we ensure that we’re data-driven at a decision level daily.  I think having support at the executive leadership level is a key factor in driving success of any analytics or reporting organization, and we certainly have that.” – Mohican Laine, Senior Director of Enterprise Business Intelligence and Reporting

Getting the right people, process, and technology in place set the stage for game-changing opportunities with data allowing for true innovation connecting individually with Overstock customers.

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Seth Moore VP Analytics and Business Intelligence

“A big piece of it is about first understanding what the customers demand and what they’re in the market for.  Once you have used the data to understand that and understand what the consumer is passionate about, then you can reach out via any number of media – search and targeted display advertising, social media, and email.There’s lots of different outlets to speak to them but first and foremost you need to use the data and understand what the message is the customer is looking for, and then the channel that’s speaking to them becomes just that. It’s a commodity by which to get the message across.” – Seth Moore, VP, Analytics & Business Intelligence

Innovation, consumer insights and “listening through data” led Overstock to create multiple services for their customers including:

  • Worldstock – a global marketplace for handmade items from artisans;
  • Farmers Market – connecting consumers with farmers and growers from their local area;
  • O.info – a free information service;
  • Cars – an alternative to the traditional car buying process, connecting consumers with local car dealers with pre-negotiated, dealer discounted pricing;
  • Insurance – finding the most affordable quotes so Overstock consumers save money;
  • Pet Adoptions – a public service enabling Overstock’s search technology to match people with pets from local shelters.

Through all of these services, Overstock is further relating to customers, learning preferences, interests, and channels.

“Customers who use that functionality, who understand that pet adoption service, and who interact with it – we can observe what they do thereafter. We can see how they come back and engage in the retail business via that connection with pets and things that they’re passionate about in a non-retail environment.” – Seth Moore, VP, Analytics & Business Intelligence

How they do it.

Overstock’s solution is Teradata Unified Data Architecture™ which includes a Teradata Integrated Data Warehouse, Teradata Aster, and Hadoop. Overstock has integrated Teradata Customer Interaction Manager with the solution and can take Screen Shot 2015-11-19 at 3.48.22 PMcustomer actions (web logs, social media data), customer preferences (channel)  and external data (weather, location, etc) and truly individualize offers and promotions to very web savvy e-consumers.  The fact is – consumers expect this kind of customization these days and Overstock delivers. And here’s where it gets really cool.

“So realistically we’d love for everything to be in the EDW, but you can’t store that much data in it. Hadoop catches everything and then the stuff that you really need structured to interact with on a very regular basis, you end up doing some ETL on and structuring and putting into the EDW. Then having that Aster interface that can query and mine and join data sets from both Hadoop and Teradata prevents you from living in a siloed data world.” – Seth Moore, VP, Analytics & Business Intelligence

Teradata QueryGrid™ allows the business faster answers by transparently harnessing the combined power of multiple analytic engines to address their business questions.  All the technology in the world is great – but then it needs to translate to the business visually. That’s where Overstock took it to the next level with the Aster App Center.

“We were challenged earlier in the year, by our leadership, to explain visually how a customer moves through the stages of their journey on our website – from acquisition to abandonment.  We utilized Aster and the App Center to visually show how customer segments move through the website.  We showed that to our executive team and you could see them have that a-ha moment of, ‘Oh! Okay! We understand and now we can make decisions on how best to change either the website or marketing campaigns to utilize that data or take advantage of what we understand that we didn’t before.’” Mohican Laine, Senior Director of Enterprise Business Intelligence and Reporting

Thank you to Overstock for sharing your very cool and very soulful story of success.

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