2 July, 2020

Using Data to bring real value to our business and our customers

Using data to influence decision making is what Data Analyst Liz really loves about her role here at M&S – but not everyone understands why this is a key contribution to the transformation of M&S.

“When I meet people for the first time, I tell them that my main job is storytelling with data, making the metrics easier to understand and compare, to make educated decisions. Most people know what a report and a graph is, so I describe my job as looking at the processing and calculations which go on in the background – to help answer the question ‘why is this happening?’”

“It can also be useful to use examples of how my work can be used to help increase profitability. For example, what would increasing the availability of Percy Pigs mean, how do we reduce the waste for a whole new sandwich line, or how many units of one product should we have on each shelf. I’ve realised that any non-data person will tune in to something that is Percy Pig related!”

Since joining M&S, Liz has made her mark on some seriously meaty projects (excuse the pun), including a ‘Shelf-Fill model’ she recently built recently in Power BI.

“We created this for the forecasters to determine what proportion of the shelves would be full, given several factors - which can be changed by the user. This is now used to help the forecasters work out what the ideal shelf space should be, by product, and how much backstage stock they can expect. Working on something like this involved constant communication with the forecasters, as well as my teammates, to script the dataset and test both the functions and user interface.”

Even though Liz has only been with us for a short time, she’s already been able to see the impact of her work in action during a placement at our Dorking store.

“Seeing how the availability, waste and backstage stock metrics came to life because of the Shelf Fill model was great - and really helped me with other bits of work. It also helped me to appreciate how early deliveries are and how hard everyone works in our stores to serve our customers. It highlighted why we need the reports we do - and some of the challenges we face in Food.”

Even though Liz sometimes get frustrated when trying to work out how to calculate certain metrics, or make sure she has the right product groups for analysis – she’s always glad to have put in the work.

“When you can produce a good tool or report for someone to use, to make their job easier you can get such a buzz!”

Join our Talent Community

Interested in a career in Data at M&S? Join our Talent Community and be the first to hear about live vacancies.

Inside M&S