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Patch grows data capabilities with Snowflake

A Snowflake data warehouse pulls in data from various SaaS systems to provide master data for management reports for horticulture retailer Patch

Plant supplier and delivery website Patch, which was founded four years ago with a goal to connect people with plants, has deployed Snowflake as it continues on a journey to become more data-driven.

The site uses content and social media to inspire people to take up gardening, alongside an e-commerce offering, which delivers plants direct to people’s homes.

Patrick Johnson, head of product at Patch UK, said: “Plants are difficult logistically. They are living things, they can’t be stored in a warehouse and can’t be turned upside down.”

While garden centres tend to cater for people who are able to pick plants themselves, Johnson said that city dwellers may struggle to collect plants.

The company has been growing quite quickly and saw a big spike in sales during the lockdown due to the fact that garden centres were closed. Johnson said people were not at their usual place of work and wanted their home space to be more comforting, adding: “They still wanted to connect with nature, and plants are a good way to destress.”

Unlike other companies in the horticulture sector, Johnson said Patch is very much a technology-enabled business. “Horticulture has been slow to move online. Most brands focus on a different demographic. We focus on people who live in smaller houses and in cities and who do their shopping online.”

The company uses a number of software-as-a-service (SaaS) products, including ZenDesk for customer relationship management (CRM), and a SaaS-based e-commerce platform.

The way business metrics are reported by the various applications differ, which means that Patch could not easily correlate the data easily. For instance, Johnson said that measuring the percentage of customer conversions based on looking at the proportion of those customer who hit the site and those who end up buying something was being measured slightly differently between the applications. 

To solve this, he said the business intelligence (BI) team at Patch created a data warehouse that pulls data from the systems used by the company into Snowflake, which is then used to do the reporting. “Snowflake allowed us to pull all the data together,” he said.

Every decision made at Patch is driven by data and the entirety of its operational data is now run through Snowflake’s Cloud Data warehouse. Snowflake has enabled Patch to run reports and dashboards to better understand their customers to tailor their products and services accordingly. 

According to Johnson, Patch has been able to harness its data strategy around analytics to focus on getting business value from data, rather than worrying about infrastructure, storage or performance, thanks to Snowflake.

Since migrating to Snowflake, Patch’s data analytics team no longer wastes time maintaining their data sets. Instead, it allows them to focus on extracting insights from data and improving their service. This means they can spend time building and improving data models, building reports and developing data science pieces.

“With Snowflake, the BI team can focus on adding value, rather than doing administrative tasks,” added Johnson.

The project is continuously being enhanced. Johnson said that it took less than three months to start providing the reporting required by the management team at Patch. One of the new initiatives has been to support the business as it starts to offer nationwide delivery of plants. Johnson said that this needed new operations for third-party logistics, which meant that a whole plethora of different metrics needed to be tracked.

He said the company is pulling in data from ZenDesk into Snowflake and using natural language processing to “read” the text messages customers submit. “When combined with the product order, this can help us to identify issues such as which plants are more susceptible to damage,” added Johnson.

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