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Metabase at Sunglass Fix

  • Sunglass Fix uses Metabase to get insight into all aspects of their business, and to make that insight available to everyone at the company.
  • They track every order and outcome in a continuous improvement cycle to serve hundreds of thousands of customers in over 170 countries.
  • Commonly asked questions include:
    • What are our most popular products?
    • How many orders should we expect next week?
    • Are we meeting our Service Level Agreement?

About Sunglass Fix

Before Sunglass Fix came along, if you scratched your sunglasses, you had to buy a new pair. Now, Sunglass Fix makes it easy to replace damaged lenses so you can keep your favorite pair of shades. They’re focused on helping the world become more sustainable in both their products and their manufacturing processes. Since 2006, they’ve helped hundreds of thousands of customers in 170 countries repair their sunglasses. And they’ve won a bunch of awards while doing it for their customer service, their advanced materials and manufacturing, and their environmental sustainability.

Why Metabase?

CEO Craig Anderson wanted a better way for everyone to get the data they needed. Before Metabase, Sunglass Fix used reporting systems built in PHP, as well as some e-commerce reports—most of which weren’t very useful. The reports weren’t readily available or were difficult to build and maintain; their IT department controlled the reports, and they were run on demand. Any time they had a system change, or wanted to ask another question, it could take weeks to deploy a new report. So they looked for another solution. They wanted an affordable query and reporting tool that could meet their business needs: the tool needed to support real-time data, be flexible, and be easy to integrate. Since picking up Metabase, whenever they have a question, they can roll out a new report in minutes that will provide them with insight into that aspect of their business.

The data

Sunglass Fix uses metadata to monitor and report on almost all aspects of their business. They don’t hold much inventory—instead, they dynamically manufacture their lenses on demand, so being able to see data in real time is critical to their success. In addition to getting the most out of their data, Metabase has also helped find areas where they weren’t capturing data. Since Metabase has been rolled out and used daily in their business, they’ve modified systems and changed business processes to fill in those gaps.

The questions

Knowing which products are selling well and which are underperforming helps Sunglass Fix develop new products. They track inventory and forecasting, revenue and expenses, SLA performance, capacity planning, order fulfillment and issue resolution—there isn’t an area of the business that doesn’t benefit from using Metabase to ask questions. Their management, marketing, and production teams have been the heaviest users of Metabase, and now their manufacturing team has recently started integrating Metabase into their daily processes to improve capacity planning and fulfillment.

Unexpected benefits

Craig was surprised by just how fast it is to ask questions in Metabase. With their old reporting system, it took their developers about four months to build eight reports which helped them track sales by channels, some basic product sales figures, and some SLA stats. Once they set Metabase up, they had those reports built in a matter of hours—along with about 50 others. They knew Metabase would be useful when they first tried it out, but they didn’t anticipate how important Metabase would become to understanding their business: almost every employee is now a daily user of Metabase.

Craig’s advice for others

Don’t hesitate to give Metabase a try; I only wish I had come across the software sooner. And just as important as it is to get insight from the data you have, it’s critical to use Metabase as a way to find gaps in your data. If there are questions you can’t answer using Metabase, then build the system or business process that will capture the data you need to answer those questions. If the cost of capturing the data is low, then the benefits can be astronomical. Another thing we’ve found is that building aggregations on a daily basis has helped us address high-level questions. For example, our fiscal year in Australia doesn’t match the calendar year, so taking all sales and expense data and building an aggregate table once a day—by month and fiscal year—makes reporting fast. This kind of time series would have been much more cumbersome to produce previously. Now we can ask “what’s our revenue for YTD for this fiscal year?” and each day, we know.