Sunday, June 16, 2024

Coles modernises shopping experience with Microsoft tech

Coles has leveraged Microsoft technology to enable faster application deployments and deliver secure and safe web-based experiences.

Whether customers are in-store, online, or engaged in a hybrid experience with their mobile app, the retailer says it’s committed to creating and delivering a consistently great experience, backed by data and insights.

In order to continue delivering dynamic e-commerce experiences online, in-store, and everywhere in-between, Coles believed it needed a partner who could keep up with its innovative, agile business model and empower its use of data to drive better customer experience.

With this in mind, Coles deepened its existing relationship with Microsoft, by integrating the use of Azure. This, says the retailer, allowed for faster deployments with a highly collaborative engineering process and delivered secure and safe web-based experiences for its customers.

Azure Kubernetes Service

When working on a new project, Coles Group Senior Engineering Manager Web Patrik Mihailescu says Coles doesn’t want all its engineers’ energy going towards asking questions about getting things up and running.

“We actually want engineers to be focusing on ‘what is the service doing?’ ‘What are we actually trying to achieve?’ The Azure Kubernetes Service has helped us to standardise and reduce that sort of effort,” he says.

AI

Coles is using data and AI to address customer needs, including “to predict what products need to be at what store at what time”, says Coles Group Chief Technology Officer John Cox.

“Our entire supply chain is being driven through a machine learning engine,” he says. “So, it’s giving insight at a super localised level. We’re also using it to ensure that we are scheduling our team members based on customer demand and making sure we keep the shelves stocked appropriately.”

Azure DevOps

Coles says it takes customer feedback seriously and its teams wanted to integrate productive updates and changes as quickly as possible to address friction points, add new features, and streamline processes.

With Azure DevOps, the retailer notes that it has been able to achieve “staggering efficiency” by shifting from monthly to weekly deployments.

“Instead of doing six-week releases, we now do weekly releases. And the build times now take roughly 10 to 15 minutes, compared to what used to be a couple of hours,” says Coles Group Senior Engineer and Manager for Platform Engineering Anton Vishnyakov.

Azure Cosmos DB

The customer experience, according to Coles, is further optimised through the use of Azure Cosmos DB.

This, explains the retailer, provides an aggregated view across channels to enable further customer insights, allowing Coles to provide an “even more” customised experience.

Together, Cosmos DB and Azure Kubernetes Service help Coles leverage Open AI to create “transformative solutions” that benefit customers.

Azure API Management

The Coles team uses Azure API Management gateway to ensure secure payment and processing for online shoppers by identifying, blocking, and countering fraudulent activity and bot attempts to enter the site.

Other

Azure empowers Coles’ app team, too.

“If a customer provides feedback that they’re having challenges with checking out, we can really drill-in with confidence and identify what range of issues they might be experiencing and then plan around how to remediate that,” says Coles Group Senior Engineering Manager Coles App Benedict Lowndes.

Coles has also worked with Gold-Certified Microsoft Partner Azenix to drive improvements in its pipelines.

Azenix reviewed current pipeline status and structure, provided analysis, and created custom build services to meet specific needs, which took build time down to 15 or 20 minutes.

Of Azenix, Mr Mihailescu says: “They understood the Microsoft service set well. They hit the ground running, really to be able to plug in some of the gaps we had.”

The Azenix team also brought deep collaboration, where they shared knowledge through brown bags and other sessions to upskill the entire team.

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