Carrefour moves its on-premises landscape to Google Cloud VMware Engine, leveraging data to offer consumers tailored ecommerce experiences, while reducing operating costs by 40% and energy consumption by 45%.
Originally published at Google Cloud
Google Cloud results
- Boosts sales and engages shoppers with personalized offers by building a recommendation engine with Google Cloud
- Reduces energy consumption by 45%, by moving from on-premises data centers to the cloud with Google Cloud VMware Engine
- Builds smoother ecommerce experiences by managing APIs with Apigee, scaling up and down with ease
- Minimizes service disruption for shoppers or employees with seamless migration across on-premises apps
- Reduces operating costs by 40%
What makes French cuisine the envy of the world? One reason is the abundance of quality ingredients, from the eggplant in ratatouille to the apples in tarte tatin. Making products for healthy, sustainable meals affordable and accessible to everyone is the mission of Carrefour, one of France’s biggest and oldest retail chains.
France’s largest private-sector employer and an ambassador of French food culture, Carrefour is also one of the country’s most important exporters. With around 13,000 stores in more than 30 countries, and half of its yearly €78,6 billion turnover in 2020 generated outside of France, Carrefour is a true global player. Its ongoing success is largely down to its pioneering outlook: in 1963, Carrefour opened France’s first hypermarket, and as early as 1992, the company launched its first line of organic products, quickly adapting to shoppers’ changing attitudes towards food.
After 60 years of change, this desire to understand customer needs and offer the best retail experience on the market remains Carrefour’s raison d’être. Today, this means offering omnichannel experiences and meeting customers where they are, whether that’s online or in-store. To stay true to this mission, Carrefour decided to modernize its aging IT infrastructure by moving to Google Cloud as part of its ambitious transformation plan “Carrefour 2022.”
“Every change we make must have a clear customer impact. To serve everyone, we need to understand everyone, and that’s only possible if we leverage our data the right way. Google Cloud combines a unique customer focus with the right data and infrastructure solutions, making it a perfect match for Carrefour.”Nicolas Forgues, Chief Technology Officer, Carrefour France
A shared vision of customer centricity
Up until 2018, Carrefour used a mix of on-premises data centers and some public and private cloud services, mainly for ecommerce features. Back then, fewer than 5% of Carrefour’s apps were running in the cloud. With numerous stores spread across many countries, this led to a scattered and heterogeneous infrastructure environment, restricting Carrefour’s ambition for growth and agility.
“We’ve been around for more than 60 years, and Carrefour’s IT infrastructure reflected our age and history. To be able to scale rapidly, provide our customers with even better services, and remain agile as we continue to grow, we had to simplify our landscape. That’s why we decided to move to the cloud.”Nicolas Forgues, Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer at Carrefour.
Customer centricity is at the heart of Carrefour’s transformation plan. When selecting technology partners, the Carrefour team looks for a dedication to match theirs, and that’s what they found in Google Cloud. “Every change we make must have a clear customer impact,” says Forgues. “To serve everyone, we need to understand everyone, and that’s only possible if we leverage our data the right way. Google Cloud combines a unique customer focus with the right data and infrastructure solutions, making it a perfect match for Carrefour.”
Making the transition seamless for shoppers and employees
To accelerate Carrefour’s transition to the cloud, Forgues’ team began by closing down Carrefour’s many on-premises data centers and then moving applications to the cloud. Due to Carrefour’s large application landscape, there was no one-size-fits-all solution to the migration: while some workloads were easily rehosted with a lift-and-shift migration, others required refactoring or were decommissioned altogether.
Carrefour has a large VMware footprint, so the team selected Google Cloud VMware Engine to extend and migrate its on-premises workloads to Google Cloud. Using VMware HCX to extend on-premises workloads to the cloud seamlessly within minutes, Carrefour avoided disruption for employees and customers.
Google Cloud VMware Engine, a native Google service, allows organizations to seamlessly migrate and run their VMware data and workloads within Google Cloud. The solution offers flexible on-demand capacity and full operational consistency with existing on-premises environments, allowing users to harness the power of Google Cloud to modernize infrastructure, operations, and processes.
“To transform your applications, you need to transform your operating model,” says Forgues. “Google Cloud VMware Engine is a powerful tool that enables us to accommodate our journey to the cloud with the pace of change that is required for an organization of our size. By 2022, we’ll have 50% of our workload in the cloud, and most of it on Google Cloud.”
“By moving to Google Cloud, we’ve been able to cut our running costs by 30%, and that’s just the beginning. As we continue to implement best practices and adapt our operations to the cloud, we’ll be able to reduce our costs even further in the future.”Nicolas Forgues, Chief Technology Officer, Carrefour France
Saving big by switching off what isn’t needed
With its workloads and applications increasingly based in the cloud, Carrefour quickly made efficiency gains by leveraging FinOps techniques, such as switching off non-prod machines automatically. And whereas machines had to be sized generously to absorb possible peaks in traditional data centers, Carrefour can now upgrade resources automatically if needed.
Serving up personalized shopping experiences
While saving costs and resources elsewhere, the Carrefour team can fully focus its attention on its core mission: putting customers first. To get to know its customers on a deeper level, it’s using Google Cloud to tap into Carrefour’s vast data pipelines.
BigQuery has become the cornerstone of many of Carrefour’s data usages. Relying on BigQuery, the Carrefour French data teams have developed a new platform called Darwin that enables access to many datasets in a totally secure way.
Darwin enables the company’s data scientists to access enormous amounts of data within minutes (ie: 15,000 SQL queries/month), and in a structured way, helping them to develop smarter models that reflect customer behavior. Together with Google Cloud, data science teams have set up a recommendation engine for its ecommerce services, enabling them to create personalized recommendations based on customer preferences.
“Being able to leverage the AI expertise of Google Cloud is a huge benefit for us. With our new recommendation engine, we can tailor the shopping experience to our customers’ needs and increase sales. During COVID-19, our e-commerce revenue increased by 60%–70%, and part of that success is due to personalization.”Nicolas Forgues, Chief Technology Officer, Carrefour France
But data insights aren’t restricted to a select few data scientists: Carrefour uses Looker to visualize data and analyze the results in intuitive dashboards, boosting the company’s data monetization program. By providing data-based insights to suppliers, Carrefour can also improve collaboration with business partners.
Making shopping a breeze with smooth ecommerce platforms
Besides tailored recommendations, Carrefour’s customers also benefit from smoother ecommerce experiences. The building blocks of Carrefour’s digital platforms are thousands of APIs. Faced with billions of API calls and high peaks, as well as ups and downs in customer demand, Carrefour’s previous API management solution couldn’t deliver the latency and scalability required to handle ecommerce requests without issue. Today, Carrefour uses Apigee to easily and uniformly manage its APIs.
“Apigee was the perfect fit to overcome the limitations of our previous setup. Performance bottlenecks directly affect the user experience, and Apigee helps us scale up rapidly and manage our APIs to make sure our ecommerce services run smoothly.”Nicolas Forgues, Chief Technology Officer, Carrefour France
Reducing waste and carbon with Google Cloud
As one of the world’s leading retailers, Carrefour takes its role in the food economy and its impact on the environment seriously. The partnership with Google Cloud offers new opportunities for the Carrefour team to act on its commitment to sustainability and food transition.
“Just by migrating from our physical data centers to Google Cloud VMware Engine, we’ve reduced our energy consumption by about 35%,” says Forgues. “And, with Google’s commitment to operate on carbon-free energy 24/7 by 2030, the energy we are consuming is greener than before, enabling us to significantly lower our global carbon footprint.”
Another initiative co-created with Google Cloud is Carrefour’s produce assortment solution, which enables local store directors to better regulate produce orders according to their needs. This reduces food waste while giving shoppers timely access to the right items.
“Our digital transformation is part of our mission to make healthy, sustainably produced food available to everyone. With Google Cloud, we’ve been able to build the technological foundation for this transition, strengthening our customer focus while reducing costs and emissions. Now we’re ready to tackle the world’s most pressing challenges together.”Nicolas Forgues, Chief Technology Officer, Carrefour France
Leading the way towards a healthy and sustainable food future
Building on the company’s already vast Google Cloud footprint, Forgues wants to deepen the partnership in the coming years. “We’re only scratching at the surface of some of the solutions we’re using,” he says. “We’re going to dive much deeper into GKE to orchestrate our workloads, for example, to increase agility and scalability across the organization.”
With a more agile and efficient IT landscape, improved customer insights, and a continued commitment to sustainability, Carrefour is in a better position than ever to make the global food transition a reality. “Our digital transformation is part of our mission to make healthy, sustainably produced food available to everyone,” says Forgues. “With Google Cloud, we’ve been able to build the technological foundation for this transition, strengthening our customer focus while reducing costs and emissions. Now we’re ready to tackle the world’s most pressing challenges together.”