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Customer Story

Barnes & Noble Drives Profitability Using AB Testing for Product Placement in Stores


Barnes & Noble Key Stats

Industry: Retail
Department: Business Intelligence
Region: North America



Barnes & Noble was founded originally 150 years ago by Mr. Barnes and Mr. Noble. It was bought by Leonard Riggio about 50 years ago and now it has 600 stores all across the country.

Barnes & Noble uses Alteryx to create analysis of retail store AB tests, as well as one-sided statistical tests. With the power of Alteryx AB testing, Barnes & Noble can task a single analyst to manage dozens of tests simultaneously and provide business leaders rapid insights.

Describe the business challenge or problem you needed to solve

Before Alteryx, retail store testing was inaccurate, confusing, and time-consuming. Barnes & Noble carries a tremendous range of products such as gifts, music, toys and DVDs. To test profitability and drive repeat visits requires a vast amount of data, which can take hours to run through in an Excel model.

The types of analysis they were asked to do was are for example, testing if bestsellers would do well in the back of the store, or testing where a cafe could go in the store. In all circumstances, good data is needed to provide great insights and all within the speed required by the business and its partners.

Barnes & Noble wanted to customize the AB Analysis and AB Controls tools. They wanted something that could be more modular to allow certain numbers to be plugged in. This would allow the business to measure the results and provide an easy way to share them with business partners. In addition, Barnes & Noble also needed a method to measure a single store’s performance, as well as a controlled group of stores.

Describe your working solution

Barnes & Noble’s method for testing is a follow, they have a group of stores where they do a change and a group where they do nothing. They then compare the two and measure between them, and they provide this analysis to business partners.

The Barnes and Noble Testing Suite

Barnes and Noble built two test analysis models in Alteryx to replace the older AB analysis model in Excel. The first one, the Group Analysis model, measures the entire impact of the test on every single store in the test group. The second one, the Store Analysis model, looks at a single location matching them to nearest five matches. This allows Barnes & Noble to find outliers between any control stores and any test stores. They then output to Power BI, where they have created standardized reports and dashboards. This allows them to:

  1. Determine the goals and KPIs of any proposed test with their business partners.
  2. Test store selection with the store operations and merchandising teams.
  3. Determine length of test and operational parameters.
  4. Generate control stores using the BN control match macro and send to store operations.
  5. Measure test results with group and store analysis macros.
  6. Present results using the BN test report.

Describe the benefits you have achieved

When Barnes & Noble started using Alteryx, the team ‘immediately jumped to hyperspace’. It was previously five months from going from the Excel methods, to building the workflow and then another two or three months building these Macros. They now have results within just a couple of minutes rather than several hours in Excel.


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