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The Data Dialogues: Alex Romac of Paravel

J.D. Crabtree
May 20, 2020
Interviews

Here at Yaguara, we are interacting with eCommerce teams daily that are pushing the industry forward. One company we’ve had the pleasure getting to know (and learn from) is the team over at Paravel. Paravel is a direct-to-consumer brand based out of New York City that creates the world's most resilient canvas luggage and travel accessories. And while they make a pretty sleek product, they are just as thoughtful behind-the-scenes. I had the opportunity to speak with Alex Romac from their team about all things data and dashboards. So without further ado…


Hey Alex, thrilled to be speaking with you about Paravel among other eCommerce topics. But before we jump in, do you mind sharing the Paravel story? And your role and responsibilities there?

J.D. Crabtree

Hi J.D., Excited to speak with you. Paravel is a sustainable DTC travel goods company started by Indre Rockefeller and Andy Krantz 3 years ago. We offer bags and accessories ranging from rolling suitcases to personalizable duffles. I handle all things Data and Analytics acting as the primary resource for reporting, understanding our customer base, and any ad hoc analyses.

Alex Romac

The three year mark is such an interesting time for an eCommerce business, at this point there are probably a lot of learnings around product-market fit, customer journeys, and strategies that did or didn’t work. You’ve been with Paravel since nearly the beginning, what is something you found interesting throughout the company’s growth to this point?

J.D. Crabtree

There are so many great stories, but I really like what happens when we launch a new product. It's interesting to see how the product performs from a new vs. repeat customer perspective over the course of the first few months. Our new rolling bag, The Aviator, is the perfect match for anyone with one of our duffels, but also instantly appeals to people who are just learning about Paravel. 

Alex Romac

The Aviator is definitely a nice addition to the product line, looking forward to seeing how it does over time.

Let’s talk about your professional journey for a bit. How did you end up working in the analytics and data department of a company? Did you always have an interest in this side of an eCommerce business?

J.D. Crabtree

I got my start in my previous role at a ride-share start up, running simple python scripts to pull and clean data for other team members and myself. I really started to get into ecommerce analytics at Paravel. The business and the team grew quickly so efficient data analysis became increasingly important. I started to leverage SQL on a daily basis to answer questions faster and create queries for recurring reports that saved me a lot of time. It has been very rewarding to provide the team with insights that were previously out of reach or that took too long to come up with.

Alex Romac

Thanks for sharing, sounds like data has always been on the mind and now you found a niche you accel at with eCommerce.

Data visualization, specifically Dashboards, starts having a substantial presence in everyday activity in a role such as yours. So how many team and personal Dashboards do you work with? And how often are you looking at these Dashboards?

J.D. Crabtree

We have a pretty agile dashboard set up. I have a few for each marketing channel, a sales overview, and a more granular report that I look at monthly. I look at many of these reports on a weekly basis. When there are larger decisions being made such as inventory planning and forecasting sales, it's helpful to have many of these dashboards pre-built so that the focus can stay on strategy and not waiting for a report.

Alex Romac

Definitely agree that you don’t want to play the waiting game during crucial times.

As you know, we are big fans of data visualization at Yaguara. Once you know which metrics to look at, they still need to be presented to you in a way that is easy to understand and provides you the information that you are looking for when you are looking for it. Like understanding the underlying metrics themselves, the art of presenting those metrics in an effective way that facilitates action without impeding productivity is vital to a successful data operation.

With that being said what are the top metrics you look at in your Dashboards?

And following that, what trends do you typically look for when visualizing these top metrics over time?

J.D. Crabtree

Couldn’t agree more. Presentation is something that I am constantly working on. The top metrics I am looking at are AOV, UPT, Return Customer Rate, Personalization Rate, Traffic Sources as a % of all traffic, and Blended ROAS. In the three years we have been in business, our product mix and messaging has changed significantly. Therefore, I look at these metrics holistically as well as categorically to observe trends. The longer back I look, the more I tend to look categorically rather than at specific styles. For shorter term analysis, I like to look for week over week changes as well as relative performance compared to trailing 30 day performance.

Alex Romac

Speaking of your company’s history, do you mind sharing about a time at Paravel where the use of data and dashboarding drove a positive outcome for the team?

J.D. Crabtree

Our personalization dashboards have been a big help. They have influenced merchandising, how we advertise certain products, and reinforced decisions to invest in new ways to customize products.

Alex Romac

That’s awesome, I’m a big fan of teams moving towards a data-driven merchandising approach. It is the historical core of every retail organization, and that function is finding itself at a critical inflection point.

As you continue to dive deeper into leading data and strategy initiatives for eCommerce teams, where do you think is an area you could further grow?

J.D. Crabtree

I’m most excited about becoming better at enabling others to leverage dashboards and tools to make their jobs more dynamic. I’m really working on preparing analyses with the end user in mind from the start. Working with teams to lay out the concrete actions that will be influenced by dashboards helps improve product adoption as well as saving me time!

Alex Romac

Alright I have to ask, do you have any predictions around your industry and/or data in eCommerce?

J.D. Crabtree

My Magic 8 Ball told me that travel will still happen, just not as much by plane this next year. Luckily, Paravel has a diverse product offering that is perfect for weekend car trips. I think it will be hard for companies that are primarily focused on air travel. Regarding eCommerce Data, I think it will only become more important to find and measure efficiencies as larger companies enter the digital market. It has never been easier to access data about your business, but deciding how exactly to use it will still be a challenge. I think the companies that will do the best will be those that have pre-defined goals and consistent testing frameworks.

Alex Romac

Alex, couldn’t thank you more for this exchange. It is insightful and inspiring to learn more around what you and Paravel are continuously building. Anything else you want to share with the crowd before signing off?

J.D. Crabtree

Thanks JD. Thank you for building a tool that makes it easy to contextualize these metrics on a project level. It is very helpful for the team to see everything tied together.

Alex Romac


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