HelloFresh Dials Up Data Analytics to Deliver 600 Million Meals

600M

meal kits delivered in 2020

11,000

employees making data-driven decisions

100+

hours saved each week in data discovery

As a meal-kit pioneer, HelloFresh is changing the way people eat, delivering step-by-step recipes and fresh, affordable, pre-portioned ingredients right to customers’ doors. When demand for meal kits soared during the COVID-19 pandemic, HelloFresh democratized employee access to trusted data and analytics, ensuring smooth procurement processes and just-in-time deliveries, more than doubling its year-over-year revenue.

“We’re getting much faster time to market for delivery logistics and marketing data and analytics, saving two to three hours a week for a large number of employees.”

Kai von Grambusch

Director, Data and Analytics

From its start in 2011, data has been critical to HelloFresh’s success. Data scientists use analytics and forecasting models to anticipate customer demand and ensure smooth procurement processes for the just-in-time deliveries to customers—without accumulating costly perishable overstock. The marketing team also uses analytics to drive its efforts and align growth with the ability to fulfill orders.

At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, HelloFresh needed to quickly scale analytics to help meet an increased demand for meal kits, since more people were opting to eat at home. The company sought to democratize data to make it easier to find and to use for more than 11,000 employees in 14 countries. By doing a better job of documenting key data, the company could create a single source of truth that’s easy for data users to find.

At the center of these efforts is Kai von Grambusch, Director of Data and Analytics at HelloFresh Global, who made it his mission to ensure that data owners and employees across the organization have the best tools to do their best work. For data scientists, that meant gaining insights faster to help them adapt to the increase in demand and make smart decisions regarding their creation and distribution.

Breaking Down Data Silos with a New Decentralized Architecture

In 2019, HelloFresh leadership identified data as a further key strategic asset to support or fully automate decision-making across their value chain. Their ultimate goal was to build data products that become trustworthy assets across the organization, so that data users can easily discover, understand, and securely use high-quality data. 

Led by Global Senior Directors of Data, Clemence W. Chee and Christoph Sawade, a phased reorganization began to unlock analytical data at scale. But their decision to transition to a data mesh architecture also required a new approach to data management and data infrastructure. Both leaders set up new teams and are currently expanding their headcount rapidly, hiring data professionals. 

“The idea is to decentralize data ownership, making domain owners and producers responsible for the quality of their own data and treating data assets as a product to be delivered to the rest of the company,” von Grambusch says. “We believe this is the way to scale data and enable our future success as a company.”

For the data mesh approach to succeed, Kinda El-Maarry, Global Data Governance Lead, and von Grambusch needed to establish new standards for data governance, and the right tooling to catalog metadata and track data lineage. Those capabilities were essential for maintaining high-quality data and making it easy for all HelloFresh employees to find it.

After evaluating solutions from several vendors including Informatica, Alation, Collibra, and Talend, the team decided to use Informatica Enterprise Data Catalog to classify and document data from its Cloudera cloud data warehouse and other critical sources. With better documentation of datasets in one central place, HelloFresh employees have more clarity into where the data comes from, who owns it, and whether it meets their needs. 

For example, an analyst looking for data in one of the HelloFresh markets can locate that data with confidence—instead of sifting through dozens of tables that may or may not contain the right data.

Von Grambusch’s team also selected Informatica Axon Data Governance to give data owners a portal to collaborate on data governance and have a centralized repository for business terms, KPIs, and other metrics. 

“Informatica provides a great enterprise data platform with integrated data quality capabilities to cover our cataloging and data governance requirements,” says von Grambusch. “It’s very easy to assign ownership, understand data lineage, and certify data, so people know what data they should be using to make decisions.”

“Demand forecasting became even more important and difficult during the pandemic. With Informatica’s Data Governance Solution, our employees were able to get the data they needed to help us succeed.” 

Kai von Grambusch

Director, Data and Analytics

Data Democratization Saves Employees Hundreds of Hours Weekly

By democratizing data and removing bottlenecks to advanced analytics, von Grambusch helps HelloFresh maintain its data-driven competitive edge. During the COVID-19 lockdown, food delivery orders skyrocketed, presenting data scientists with new demands for data analysis. Now, when employees search for information, they can confidently begin working with the right data immediately—instead of spending time investigating or re-creating datasets themselves.

“We’re getting much faster time to market for delivery logistics and marketing data and analytics, saving two to three hours a week for a large number of employees who work with data across HelloFresh,” says von Grambusch. “We’re also getting more thorough analyses, because we’re using better-quality data and bringing in data that we might otherwise have missed.”

With clear accountability, data owners and stewards are stepping up and taking on more responsibility for updating, documenting, and certifying data. If someone has a question about a data asset, they know who to ask. “We’ve been able to take some of the friction out of working with data by using Informatica Enterprise Data Catalog, and it’s really gratifying,” he says.

Delivering During a Pandemic with Help from Data Analytics

The Data Infrastructure team at HelloFresh, led by Rodrigo Peternella, deployed the Informatica solution as the COVID-19 pandemic struck. The data catalog and governance practices that were put in place helped the company navigate this shift by forecasting and developing new insights quickly. “We saw an increase in people ordering HelloFresh boxes during the pandemic,” he recalls. “ We needed to make decisions even faster and adapt to the changing environment. And, with most of our employees working from home, it was even more important to have data documented properly and in place.”

Data analytics was the answer. By accurately forecasting customer demand and the amount of ingredients needed for the meal kits, HelloFresh could fulfill the increase in orders. It also used logistics forecasting to balance the food capacity in its warehouses, ensuring that all meal kits are fresh when customers receive them.

HelloFresh delivered more than 600 million meals to customers around the world in 2020, more than doubling its year-over-year revenue.

Von Grambusch concludes, “Demand forecasting became even more important and difficult during the pandemic. With Informatica’s Data Governance Solution, our employees were able to get the data they needed to help us succeed.”

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