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The Path to Customer Analytics-Led Product Design at Claire’s: Sean MacCarthy

Sean MacCarthy, Executive Director, Global Analytics and Store Segmentation at Claire’s, shares his vision for customer analytics-led product design at Claire’s and how he’s working to make it a reality

Accessories business Claire’s has become a household name since it was founded in 1961. Getting a piercing at a Claire’s store is a right of passage for many children across the globe. But for this reason, the Claire’s model is unusual in today’s increasingly digital business landscape.

As Claire’s Executive Director, Global Analytics and Store Segmentation Sean MacCarthy shares in this interview ahead of his appearance at Corinium’s 2021 CDAO Fall events, the company’s legacy has influenced his strategy for modernizing its analytics capabilities.

When MacCarthy joined Claire’s almost five years ago, he found that the company’s leadership was hungry for data-driven insights. But the organization’s data infrastructure meant building-out modern analytics capabilities with a creative approach.

Enabling Analytics Self-Service on Legacy Systems

MacCarthy cites leading the company’s transition to self-service analytics as one of his biggest achievement since joining Claire’s.

“The biggest evolution since I got here was really enabling people to self-serve,” he says. “It was building the tools out to be able to do that, so we could free up our own time to do the more strategic things that leadership wanted us to do while not abandoning the needs of the people who are working every day to make sure there was enough stock and staffing.”

To ensure these new tools were and continue to be adopted, MacCarthy has placed significant emphasis on making his team available to help staff from other departments with any challenges they encounter while getting to grips with them.

“From the time I started, we basically introduced the concept of office hours,” he says. “We've been providing those office hours such that we're there to provide feedback and answers, whether it's an Excel question or a data warehousing solution question, like, as we migrated everything over to the Azure stack, ‘How do I do this in Power BI?’”

“If I can't fish for everybody, I can teach a lot of people to fish,” he adds. “It's fascinating to see the difference in level and capabilities of people who come to those office hours asking questions. And I think it's provided real value for the organization over the last 24 months.”

Customer Analytics-Led Product Design at Claire’s

Like everyone in the business world, the Claire’s analytics team has worked tirelessly to adapt its plans in response to the challenges the pandemic has thrown at it over the past 24 months. Luckily, MacCarthy signed off his long-term strategy roadmap shortly before COVID-19 arrived. So, his team was able to press ahead with key initiatives to enhance the company’s customer analytics capabilities, despite the disruption.

“COVID-19 didn't stop us,” he says. “We went right to business, implementing all the technology stack updates [and] programs like our loyalty program. We launched that in the middle of COVID-19 - November last year in the US - and to incredible success, as well.”

“We [also] automated our data science ‘test and learn’ approach with a software solution,” he continues. “It just automates a lot of the data science behind 'test and learn'. So, we implemented that and then, in the midst of COVID-19, we were able to work out some meaningful tests with more speed than if our data scientists were handling them manually.”

The company’s loyalty program is a key building block upon which Claire’s plans to establish more personalized customer experiences. MacCarthy also believes collecting more first-party data about its most loyal customers will ultimately enable more customer-led product design processes.

MacCarthy says: “One of the things that I've been planning and dreaming about implementing is working with customer data to identify the next trend and what influences [customers] from a pure fashion perspective.”

“That's a big thing we want to explore with first-party data,” he adds. “By knowing more directly who my customer is and what she loves, we can start tying that out to product purchase behavior. Then, we can start mapping those trends for our designers and buyers.”

The company has not let the pandemic slow its evolution down, and it will continue to innovate and encourage its teams to explore how they can serve their customers and employees better.

Legacy organizations often struggle with digital transformation. But Claire’s’ example shows that, with the right leadership, even the most traditional businesses can build world-class analytics capabilities.

Sean MacCarthy will speak at Corinium’s 2021 CDAO Fall summit. Click here for more information or click here to reserve your place.