The story of how rapidly growing Charlotte’s Web partnered with Data Clymer to improve its data architecture, management, and analytics. The result was a 25% increase in customer acquisition, a savings of over $2 million in operational costs, and the creation of a robust data culture to support future growth. By learning to optimize its data, Charlotte’s Web was able to monetize its data. 

Why Charlotte’s Web?

Charlotte’s Web is a well-known children’s book written by E.B. White and published in 1952. But that’s not what Charlotte’s Web the company is about. What it is about is helping people by developing CBD-based products to improve the quality of their lives. So where does the name come from? It comes from the story of Charlotte Figi, a young girl who was born with Dravet syndrome, causing her to have seizures, sometimes hundreds in a week, and some lasting two to four hours. Eventually, the Figis discovered something that greatly alleviated the frequency of the seizures – CBD. And the company that became Charlotte’s Web formulated a low-THC high-CBD strain of cannabis for Charlotte, and the number of seizures dropped to only two to three per month. 

Sadly, Charlotte passed away in April of 2020 at the age of 13. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who got to know Charlotte and her family, wrote on cnn.com that he told Charlotte’s mother, “Thank you for sharing your beautiful Charlotte with the world. She taught us so much, and we are all better for it. We are more knowledgeable. We are more enlightened.”

As pioneers in the CBD industry, Charlotte’s Web products improve the quality of life for tens of thousands of customers every day. As one of the largest CBD companies in the US, they require fast, precise, and actionable data to deliver for their customers. 

The problems: data silos; clunky reporting; an underdeveloped data culture 

Like many fast-growing early-stage companies, Charlotte’s Web was facing widespread challenges due to the robustness of their data management and the analysis simply could not keep up with the rate of growth the company was experiencing. As a result, they faced issues of siloed data, data management, data governance, and slow analytics done in Excel by a loosely defined “data gang.” With no central data warehouse, analysis could only be performed from one system at a time. PowerBI directly queried their production ERP database, and they were stuck with the limited reporting provided by their e-commerce platform. Plus, they found PowerBI to be too unstructured, so it was only used by a select few employees, and virtually none of those users trusted the data. 

As summed up by Darren Kuehne, Manager of Business Intelligence: “A minimum of 65% of the data gang’s time was spent managing data, not analyzing nor activating insights.” The net result wasn’t ideal for the business: the analysts were the most informed yet least empowered contributors to a disparate range of projects throughout the organization. “We had hours of data management that was done in Excel to produce simple charts for presentations and planning, and we weren’t enabled to lead progress in the organization, even though we could see heaps of business value in our data. Worse than that, the data gang had more manual maintenance of these reports than they could manage in a typical work week.”

When he started as Charlotte’s Web CIO in 2019, Paul Lanham immediately recognized that data management was weighing down capable analysts. And – worse – it was creating a critical hindrance to building an actionable data culture. He began a technology selection process to enable the data gang with Darren at the ship’s helm. 

As a seasoned CIO, Paul identified the need to leverage flexibility, scalability, and timeline of a SaaS solution for the business intelligence (BI) stack. Within weeks, Charlotte’s Web had a full BI stack selected and implementation was underway. Together Darren and Paul understood that the BI stack required specialized IT & data science skill sets to fully empower the enthusiastic data gang. They began building a BI team charged with leading the rapid change Charlotte’s Web needed to continue its rapid growth. Molly Pagden and Ayan Sarkar joined the team late in 2019 and quickly helped facilitate the foundational change in BI operations at the company. 

The Solution: Data Clymer, Instant Data Team, & Modernizing Data Stack

Enter Data Clymer, a full data stack innovation partner, focused on data culture transformation. With deep experience building and designing data warehouse & BI solutions, they understand how governed data democratization can enable self-service analytics and ultimately change the way an organization thinks about data. When data is democratized and analysis is shown to be accessible, timely, relevant, and actionable, the entire organization becomes data driven and 

Data Clymer provided an “instant” data team that was up and running in a matter of days. The team was able to implement the entire Ecommerce reporting & analytics solution with a full data stack using a Panoply data warehouse, Matillion ETL tool, and Looker business intelligence platform. And they did it before Darren hired a single analyst. “Being it was my first time standing up a reporting infrastructure, having Looker, Matillion, and Panoply experts from Data Clymer who could be sounding boards was pivotal. They greatly influenced the support we received from all the vendors and were able to implement a system that I wouldn’t have been remotely close to delivering myself.” 

Integrating best-in-breed partners for the data stack

Panoply 

Panoply is a fully managed cloud data warehouse solution that comes with some built-in connectors. It is extremely simple to start using – create an account, connect some data, and go. Without Panoply’s plug-and-play administration experience, Charlotte’s Web could not have hit its six-week requirement for launching the BI stack. Their data warehouse is well-supported, well-documented, and is scaling with the business.

Looker

Looker is a best-in-class fit for Charlotte’s Web because of its capabilities for driving governed data democratization. Since KPI definitions are stored in a single place using the LookML data modeling layer, everyone in the company is guaranteed to be using a consistent calculation. Looker is also significantly more user friendly than the previous BI tools Charlotte’s Web had used. 

The team at Charlotte’s Web is succeeding by leveraging popular Looker features, including scheduling reports for email delivery to setting alerts when KPIs exceed certain thresholds. Kuehne says, “Looker’s scheduling feature has bridged communication gaps that I’ve observed since I started in 2018.”

Matillion

Matillion is an optimal ETL solution for Charlotte’s Web. (For example, in the ERP database, the rowversion datatype was a requirement for interpreting the incremental key, but the warehouse didn’t support it.) In addition to processing alternate datatypes, Matillion provides the ability to load only the data that was created or updated since the last ETL job run. The result: fresh data syncing with the data warehouse in record time. Load times decreased from six hours to one hour per run.

Matillion also expedited the development of one of our favorite design patterns:  “always on” tables.  This approach keeps the final stage analytical tables always up-to-date by incrementally loading them instead of performing a full truncate-and-reload, which improves performance and eliminates the possibility of having incomplete data in the table at any time.

A thriving data culture that has earned credibility and delivered tangible results

In just six weeks, Charlotte’s Web went from entirely siloed data and no BI stack to delivering reports to cross-functional stakeholders. Since then, Data Clymer has collaborated with the new Charlotte’s Web Business Intelligence team to build out the rest of the central data warehouse and analytical data model. 

The larger organization has shifted its relationship with data to create what we call data culture transformation. With the new data gang – called the Data Docs – they’ve been able to achieve multiple micro-wins that add up to a more efficient data culture:

  1. A scheduled Data ER (office hours to address complex questions)
  2. Slack channel to facilitate collaboration
  3. Cadenced Business Review meetings where stakeholders and the Data Docs sync on actionability of data and insights
  4. Ad hoc meetings to ensure new stakeholders who join the Charlotte’s Web team can access the data they need to succeed. 

In addition to exchanging a lot of Slack messages daily, Data Clymer consultant Rob Seaberg meets regularly with Molly Pagden and others on Charlotte’s Web data team, including Standups on Mondays, Wednesday, and Fridays and a Sprint meeting every Friday. Consistent and open communication is a key part of driving Charlotte’s Web data culture. 

Now, Charlotte’s Web leaders in eCommerce, Marketing, Sales, Operations, and IT have stable, consistent, and distributed access to the same data. This data culture at Charlotte’s Web supported the business when it had to pivot with agility in the COVID-19 era. With brick-and-mortar stores being shuttered, the e-commerce business needed to increase its share of revenue without significantly increasing expenses. The results from the company’s Q2 2020 earnings report illuminate the collective results of the win: “Strong DTC sales largely offset a 54.5% decrease in B2B retail sales which accounted for 28.2% of total revenue in the quarter. DTC net sales grew by 33.6% year-over-year as online traffic and high conversion rates increased through ongoing marketing and social media programs. Year-over-year new consumer acquisitions increased 25% and conversion rates increased 77%. DTC net revenue accounted for 71.8% of total revenue in the second quarter compared to 46.4% for the same period in the prior year.”

Late in 2021, Data Clymer and Matillion co-sponsored a webinar in conjunction with Charlotte’s Web that provided insights into how their teams worked together to optimize the data management, data architecture, and data analytics of Charlotte’s Web. They identified how they collectively turned “dirty” data into useful information saved the company over $2M in operational efficiencies.

During the webinar, Molly Pagden, Business Intelligence Analyst for Charlotte’s Web, identified several significant milestones that have been reached as a result of the partnership. 

  • Full control over data ingestion and creation of transformative pipelines
  • Development of a one-time clean up scripts to correct tables that had become plagued by duplicative and messy data
  • Reduction in report run times from as much as 40 minutes or more to less than 2 minutes
  • Drastically improved data ingestion processes
  • Implementation of always-on tables that are always available and up to date 
  • Utilization of upsert and delete logic
  • Development of an evolving data culture that has democratized data access and utilization
  • Demonstration of efficiently turning data into usable information and enhancing the credibility of the data team across the organization

An invigorated and robust data culture means efficiently turning data into actionable and democratized information. When it’s done right, it is continually evolving and delivers the kind of results you see above.

 

Check Out: “Data To Go – Data Clymer” Webinar

 

Charlotte’s Web case study v1.3 2021/12


Data Clymer is a premier consulting firm specializing in full-stack analytics and data culture transformation. Our proven methodology includes full data stack implementation, data democratization, custom training, and analytics to enable data-driven decisions across the organization. We have curated a set of best practices from our deep expertise in Snowflake, Sigma, Looker, Matillon, DBT, Fivetran, Tableau, BigQuery, and more. 

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