Big Data Journey — Strategy Storymap for Online Art Marketplace

This article lays out the Big Data journey for a fictitious online art marketplace — Celebrations using the Big Data storymap tool to help visualize the Big Data journey and help the organization understand the key components of Big Data Strategy.

Big Data storymap is a concept introduced by Bill Schmarzo. The author states “The goal of a storymap is to provide a graphical visualization that uses metaphors and themes to educate our clients about the key components of a successful big data strategy. And like any good map, there are important “landmarks” that I want to make sure you visit.”

Source: Bill Schmarzo. 2013.

About Celebrations

Celebrations is an online e-commerce marketplace to buy unique handcrafted products as well as vintage items from across the globe to support diverse artisans, crafters, and collectors. Celebrations value proposition is to nurture the entrepreneurial and creative spirit of artisans and provide a platform with a wide variety of products that are one-of-a-kind and attractive. Its business model is providing a low-cost subscription service for sellers and scaling business with repeat, habitual buyers that are looking to gift someone, style themselves, or celebrate events. Celebrations revenue stream is primarily derived from the commission earned on each sale transaction along with paid ads that sellers run.

Our key competitors include Etsy, Amazon Handmade, Shopify, Big Cartel, Artfire, Aftcra, and Indiemade. The goods on the platform are wearables, bath/beauty products, home decor, and food. Vintage items are defined as more than 20 years old. Our marketing channels include the platform and ancillary channels like partner websites, social media, in-house workshops, advertising on TV, and most importantly word of mouth.

Sellers sign up on the marketplace by paying a fee. This enables them to set up a shop within the platform. They can list as many products as they want and add tags so they can be searched more easily. Sellers can also pay for running paid-ads on the Celebrations platform, where they are charged for clicks.

Buyers can ask sellers questions before they make a purchase. Celebrations collects payment from buyers and transfers it to the seller’s account in the mode of payment they prefer. Additionally, buyers can share reviews and provide ratings for the products purchased.

Following is Big Data Storymap for scaling Celebrations

Big Data River

Celebrations Big Data River is deep and insightful, wide and diverse, fast and powerful. We will leverage artificial intelligence and agile approaches to expand our processes to capture and augment data. This includes structured, unstructured, real-time, near-time, batch processing data. We can mine social, mobile, point of sale, payments, shipping, inventory, merchants’ stores, blogs, discussion boards, online art forums, art newsletters, and external data sources.

Source: Bill Schmarzo. 2013.

Traditional Town

In the early beginnings, Celebrations has been operating using traditional data warehouse and business intelligence technologies. Our data warehouse architecture is not robust enough to handle the new age demands for mining vast growing volumes of data in real-time. This is an impediment to our vision to scale exponentially in the next three years and be the most preferred shopping destination. This significantly limits our ability to mine vast volumes of data, understand data correlations, overlay patterns, and integrate unstructured data into our internal data. We are unable to gain insights buried in social media reviews, partner website reviews and traffic data, support call notes, and consumer comments on our own website. Our analytics function is limited to operational aspects of our business. We do not have established ways to gain insights and integrate into our business practices, optimize processes, and for product/platform development. These limitations further prevent us from targeting new markets and new product development.

Source: Bill Schmarzo. 2013.

Business Model Maturation

  • Business Insights: Integrating unstructured data from social media, reviews, partner websites with internal data to uncover actionable insights and recommendations.
  • Business optimization: Leveraging analytics and experimenting with optimization models to determine the best mechanism of managing logistics for inventory, shipping, and distribution. Integrate best practices into an existing business. Optimizing post-purchase experience to nurture trust when a buying experience isn’t optimal, gain trust and loyalty with repeat buying.
  • Data Monetization: Selling insights to partners that can be leveraged to drive business to artisan shops and get more business from other popular platforms at no cost to sellers. Curate pages for buyers that take them to sellers’ shops by leveraging artificial intelligence that adapts to both desktop and mobile displays. Investing in marketing funnels by creating relationships with partners to continue capturing new markets and audiences around the world.
  • Business metamorphosis: Leverage buyer and seller usage patterns, product performance, seasonality to create a customer-focused product-centric business model via an analytics-enabled platform. Hone the platform to deliver economic, social, and ecological impact, keeping pace with the technological changes. Identify operational gaps that could be filled by M&A opportunities.
Source: Bill Schmarzo. 2013.

Value Journey

  • Evolving the platform to create an open customized craft fair feel.
  • Mining buying patterns and leverage behavior insights to create more compelling user experiences.
  • Deepen engagement by inspiring buyers to upgrade, simplify their lifestyle and spaces by suggesting apt products.
  • Identify sellers with fast-moving items and provide the option to print shipping labels at home.
  • Determine required insights: Data insights needed are prioritized as behavioral analytics, business logistics, and operations optimization, product development, platform development, and educational outreach. These support our targeted business outcomes.
  • Define data strategy: We will have an ongoing gathering of structured and unstructured data at a set cadence defining real-time and near-time needs. Key metrics will be identified including data access and availability methodologies.
  • Build analytic models: Our analytics tools, models, and algorithms will be continually refined to meet the changing needs of our buyers, sellers, and marketplace.
  • Big Data architecture: Deploy Google Cloud platform as the Big Data architecture and cloud services for analytics function and maturity.
  • Incorporate insights into apps: We will operationalize the insights from analytical models into our business applications, platform development, and architecture.
Source: Bill Schmarzo. 2013.

Operationalizing Big Data

This section defines the process of continually uncovering and publishing new business insights by establishing a process to gain analytics insights and integrate them into operational systems, processes, and applications. To enable this transformation the following operational process will be set up and established:

  • Collaborating with sellers to capture product requirements.
  • Engage community stakeholders on projects.
  • Acquiring unstructured data from social media, platform product reviews, partner reviews, etc., and integrating with internal data sources.
  • Integrating analytical insights from sales trends, membership, revenue stream, distribution channels, partners into the platform and product development as well as the design of educational workshops.
  • Collaborating with distribution channels and shipment agencies to determine the best models and uncover operational efficiency.
  • Collaborate with collectors to identify vintage products that collectors are most interested in.
Source: Bill Schmarzo. 2013.

Value Creation City

Celebrations provides value to both their buyers and sellers. The value creation process includes transforming the following core business areas:

  • Customer experience: Deliver a personalized and differentiated buying experience that drives long-term loyalty and profitability. Uncover buyer preferences, buying patterns to suggest products based on the special occasions they are interested in. Customize the sellers portal to help them grow their business by providing meaningful, relevant dashboards and metrics not only on current business but on potential opportunities.
  • Customer support: Provide seamless customer support and promptly address grievances.
  • Product Development: Ensure products listed are unique, special and attractive to buyers. Identify which types of products are driving sales and correlate this to educating artisans.
  • Platform Development: Provide ways to intuitively search products from across the globe. Ensure products are classified correctly and meet the criteria of vintage, category type, etc.
  • Platform Maintenance: Reduce platform downtime and issues. Analyze our server, network performance for predictive maintenance and fine-tuning our platform architecture.
  • Online Marketing: Determine which campaigns and influencer marketing are most effective to attract buyers and sellers that strike with both domestic and international markets.
  • Advertising: Creating inspirational advertising that builds an emotional connection.
  • Shipping Operations: Optimize global shipping of products to make it timely thereby reducing delays and impediments. Provide economical ways of shipping internationally.
  • Support artists: Run relevant seller education workshops in areas of business development and overall small business management. Encourage artists to create what is selling.
  • Distribution: Ensure optimal inventory levels of fast-moving, popular handmade goods.
  • Payments Architecture & Management: Enable fraud detection. Provide multiple payment modes to buyers and sellers.
  • Human Resources: Hire talent that best meets the growing organization’s needs.
Source: Bill Schmarzo. 2013.


Bill Schmarzo.



Exec Director StratEx - I bring to the table blend of data science, finance and strategy management skills with 20+ years of experience in insurance & fintech.

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Poonam Rao

Exec Director StratEx - I bring to the table blend of data science, finance and strategy management skills with 20+ years of experience in insurance & fintech.