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5 min read

Sustainable Clothing Rack meets Modern Data Stack: ThredUp’s ETL Revamp

By Etleap Marketing
June 11, 2024
Blog Sustainable Clothing Rack meets Modern Data Stack: ThredUp’s ETL Revamp

ThredUp’s Databricks Data Intelligence Platform migration coincided with the need for a more robust ETL partner. With the emergence of AI-powered E-commerce, teaming with Etleap to deposit disparate source data into one place proved a key differentiator in consignment market dominance.

After seamlessly integrating its diverse data sources into Databricks Data Intelligence Platform with the help of Etleap, ThredUp is:

  • SAVING $100K annually in engineering costs
  • UNLOCKING a frictionless customer experience with AI Search functionality
  • ELIMINATING pipeline glitches with complete and trustworthy data
  • OPTIMIZING ad spend on Google and Meta
  • ACCELERATING profit-driving uses cases like the Customer Data Platform (CDP) and Resale-as-a-service (RaaS)

Across Generations, Shoppers are Thinking Secondhand First

ThredUp entered the secondhand apparel market in 2009, modernizing thrift with technology that makes it easy for people to buy and sell clothes, shoes and accessories. Today, the company is one of the largest online resale platforms, offering more than 55,000 brands across value, premium and luxury – from Gap to Gucci. The U.S. secondhand market will reach $73 billion by 2028; and amid intense competition, harnessing data has been central to ThredUp’s ability to corner the market.

Evolving Data Infrastructure Underpins Business Growth 

Aniket Mane joined ThredUp in 2014 as a data engineer. At that time, the company’s infrastructure was only capable of processing transactional data. Anticipating the growing influence of behavioral intel, Mane began building a data warehouse to unify multiple data sources.

“Crafting a business strategy around connecting transactional data with behavior data was the main impetus for the data warehouse,” explains Mane, currently the VP of Engineering.

With customer clickstream data and other sources integrated into a data warehouse with the help of an ETL SaaS partner, ThredUp propelled agile business strategies forward.

“Data connectivity and transportability has been our superpower,” says Mane.

However, as the variety of source data for marketplace optimization grew and AI capabilities became prerequisites to retain a competitive edge, ThredUp stood at a data crossroads.

Data Infrastructure Makeover with Etleap

ThredUp’s ETL partner at the time lacked critical features for building profitable projects. Data was often incomplete, leading to a lack of trust. Most pressing was the need for pipeline robustness to support AI use cases, where input data is dynamic and changes in real time. Ultimately, Mane and his team desired an ETL tool that offered simplicity, isolation, flexibility and scalability.

“We wanted a new provider who offered a single-table single-pipeline solution,” explains Mane. “Schema change handling was another game changer for our use cases.“

This paradigm shift, along with the desire for predictable pricing and connector quality, led ThredUp to Etleap.

“Etleap’s proactive approach to data management and comprehensive feature set aligned perfectly with ThredUp's objectives,” recalls Mane.

Thredup AI ambitions required a robust data lake platform with structured data. It turned to Etleap to get all the tables from its transactional systems to their Databricks Data Intelligence Platform. 

“Etleap helped us move to Databricks Data Intelligence Platform faster, significantly reducing our time-to-market,” says Mane.

Throughout a two-month migration, Etleap provided connection creation and validation support for both new and existing sources, including MongoDB, Google Ads, Criteo, and TikTok ads, among others.

“Etleap’s Databricks Data Intelligence Platform connector and validation support empowered us to meet current needs while laying the groundwork for future use cases.”

 

Aniket Mane, VP of Engineering at ThredUp

Powering Customer Analytics

The crown jewel of ThredUp´s data-driven strategy is its Customer Data Platform (CDP), where ThredUp combines data from multiple sources to create a centralized hub where all customer interactions can be visualized, analyzed, and acted upon. Sources like Kustomer, which empowers the customer service analytics team, play a critical role in the CDP.

“Etleap worked closely with our team to onboard the Kustomer connector,” says Mane. “This enables us to optimize how our customers interact with our website.”

Among key business metrics that ThredUp monitors is how much marketing spend on platforms such as Google and Facebook is returning. ThredUp needed to take the data for marketing spend, optimization data, and UI and tie that with internal data. By building a data-driven attribution methodology, ThredUp could achieve more effective ad deployment and shorter payback periods.

"With Etleap’s connectors, we launched a new marketing channel in a day, optimizing our quarterly marketing spend plan of a few hundred thousand dollars,” says Mane. “Etleap completes the data loop, allowing our analytics team to shine in front of our marketing executives.”

“The trust and completeness of Etleap’s pipelines means our CDP runs on time with accurate data, elevating customer engagement and satisfaction.”

 

Aniket Mane, VP of Engineering at ThredUp

Labor Resource Savings

ThredUp´s data engineering team previously expended countless manual hours managing pipelines. The previous ETL vendor would sometimes miss updates. With millions of data rows built upon each other, a single faulty row upset all subsequent rows. If a bug showed up on ThredUp’s side the data team would have to reach out to the ETL vendor for a fix.


“It was a really big pain,” recalls Mane. “But Etleap engineers will catch a problem before we do.”


For ThredUp´s current demands, Mane estimates that without Etleap he would need more engineering horsepower to build and manage pipelines. With Etleap replication, data transportation and management became a clear winner and value-add for his team.


The time Etleap saves ThredUp’s data engineers and analysts allows them to pursue value-added projects on the business intelligence side.


“Our team can prioritize collaboration with stakeholders to build the right data sets, which power ThredUp´s key business objectives,” says Mane.

“Etleap is all about accountability and ownership. My team is less stressed knowing Etleap will be on top of any pipeline issues that arise.”

 

Aniket Mane, VP of Engineering at ThredUp

Integrating AI Search

Perhaps the most pressing business critical project was launching AI search capabilities. As AI has gone mainstream in the last couple of years, customers now expect predictive search assistance to take the guesswork out of secondhand shopping and help them find exactly what they want.

“Data is the foundation for any AI-based project,” explains Mane. “AI models must be trained, fine-tuned, and optimized.”

To stand out in the crowded e-commerce market, ThredUp needed to develop a tool based on image processing vectors that matched visual search language with personal style.

“AI workflows require data to be massaged or transformed,” says Mane. “Etleap extracts ThredUp´s source data and transforms it into a consistent format before loading it into the data lake.”

Going forward, ThredUp is aiming to further enhance its marketing data platform for better spend optimization. It also aims to integrate AI search on their website to improve user experience and help them find the right item.

“With Etleap´s pipelines we can analyze incoming data on day one and accelerate our AI use cases.”

 

Aniket Mane, VP of Engineering at ThredUp

Data-Driven Profitability

In the online consignment arena, one of the biggest challenges for start-up companies has been achieving profitability. To grow revenue, ThredUp has introduced a novel Resale-as-a-Service (RaaS) offering that lets major brands plug into ThredUp’s existing infrastructure to offer customizable, scalable resale experiences to their customers. Data that powers the ThredUp marketplace also powers ThredUp´s RaaS.

“With Etleap pipelines into the Databricks Data Intelligence Platform we were able to build a reporting layer and dashboard in our BI tool for our brands around how the resale program with ThredUp is doing,” explains Mane. “It enables advanced graphing and reporting capabilities.”

In the end, ThredUp´s investment in an Etleap data makeover delivered benefits beyond the technical. The rationalization of its data infrastructure ultimately gave ThredUp teams the confidence and autonomy to pursue tailored use cases on an accelerated timeline. The future of the company, not to mention the secondhand shopping experience, looks brighter as a result.

“Etleap´s team culture is different than other SaaS companies ThredUp has worked with. Etleap can cook the same dish, but its proactive approach to monitoring data truly sets it apart.”

 

Aniket Mane, VP of Engineering at ThredUp

If ThredUp's story resonates, you can experience firsthand how Etleap's innovative technology and customer-centric approach can transform your data pipeline operations. Don't just take our word for it - request a demo today and explore how Etleap can meet your unique data needs. Etleap is free to trial for up to 4 weeks.

About ThredUp:
ThredUp is transforming resale with technology and a mission to inspire the world to think secondhand first. By making it easy to buy and sell secondhand, ThredUp has become one of the world's largest online resale platforms for apparel, shoes and accessories. Sellers love ThredUp because we make it easy to clean out their closets and unlock value for themselves or for the charity of their choice while doing good for the planet. Buyers love shopping value, premium and luxury brands all in one place, at up to 90% off estimated retail price. Our proprietary operating platform is the foundation for our managed marketplace and consists of distributed processing infrastructure, proprietary software and systems and data science expertise. With ThredUp’s Resale-as-a-Service, some of the world's leading brands and retailers are leveraging our platform to deliver customizable, scalable resale experiences to their customers. ThredUp has processed over 172 million unique secondhand items from 55,000 brands across 100 categories. By extending the life cycle of clothing, ThredUp is changing the way consumers shop and ushering in a more sustainable future for the fashion industry.

 

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