December 11, 2017
Categorized: Cloud | Retail
Written by: Timothy Kasbe, Chief Information and Digital Officer, The Warehouse Group
The retail industry is facing unprecedented digital disruption as shoppers increasingly move from traditional bricks and mortar outlets to buying online. Digital technologies have put immense power at every customer’s fingertips, and they rightfully expect all retailers and service providers to cater to them as individuals.
The businesses that succeed in this environment are the ones that invest in their data as a competitive advantage, creating a foundation for innovation and transforming their business model. That means designing a modern cloud and technology infrastructure that supports the latest analytics tools, working in real time.
That’s tough enough with one chain of stores, but when you factor in multiple other retailers with operations spread across 225 outlets and 13 online stores supported across ten different data centres, it becomes exponentially more complex.
That was the situation I found myself in when I joined The Warehouse Group, New Zealand’s largest general retailer, earlier this year. The Group operates well-known brands The Warehouse, Warehouse Stationery, Noel Leeming and Torpedo7 brands – four different brands brought together under one banner and generating nearly NZ$3 billion in revenue. They were all on different platforms and my first priority was to consolidate and streamline the infrastructure across the Group, reduce our data centre footprint, and move to an op-ex model.
The cloud platform needed to be fast and reliable, yet flexible enough to integrate new mobile-based services – because shopping with us increasingly involves a digital component such as online shopping using our site or app, browsing on a mobile device while in-store, or click and collect. Moving to IBM Cloud is enabling us to deliver that enhanced experience for customers so they can engage with us from anywhere, at any time and through any device.
Cloud sovereignty was critical to strengthening resiliency and redundancy across both the North and South Islands. Customer facing apps, the main website, point of sales systems, inventory and financial systems all enable us to serve and delight our customers. We felt it was high risk to operate our core retail platform on clouds overseas, with the geopolitical landscape constantly changing and net neutrality laws under review in many countries. We didn’t want any of that sensitive data held overseas and risk suffering lag time on every transaction due to net neutrality and bandwidth throttling.
We’ve been very transparent about the dramatic changes we’re making across the business and the need to invest in our digital future. With our underlying infrastructure now in order, we can look ahead to introducing exciting new services to make our customers’ lives easier, such as electric car delivery services in Auckland, or planning how we could apply artificial intelligence technology to further improve the customer experience.
By moving to cloud, we’re preparing our company and our 12,000 people for a hyper competitive future and leading the way into New Zealand’s customer service revolution.