In 2015, this multinational optical retail chain began a digital transformation to create a single view of each of its customers across its global business in the UK, Ireland, Australasia, and Nordic countries. The retailers, which offers optician services for eyesight testing, and sells glasses, sunglasses, contact lenses, and hearing aids, knew it had to adopt a combination of modern retail technology systems to achieve this vision.
In 2018, the company introduced its e-clinical platform and consumer mobile app, which allows customers to virtually try on hundreds of pairs of glasses before they make their way to a store to purchase them. Tablets were also introduced to stores to give sales associates an added means to serve customers faster and more effectively.
At the start of this digital transformation, these new technologies were hastily integrated with the retailer’s legacy software and hardware systems, some which had been developed and maintained for over 20 years. This meant a disparate backend was created and data could not be kept in a single location, which made it difficult to scale.
Technologies that were already in-store, such as the large number of tablets digital, were also at risk of struggling with customer needs. As demands by store associates for applications and functionality grew, in-store infrastructure would also have to change to support future technologies.
To remedy this, the retailer decided it needed a brand-new retail platform that was a combination of retail and medical, and optical and hearing. In addition to projects to redevelop all its core systems, it would reduce its current 2,500 critical platforms down to approximately five.
At the same time as the development of the new backend retail system, the retailer worked on consolidating all existing customer data, including datapoints such as online interactions, in-store sales, and prescriptions. It involved taking all that data, along with hundreds of data applications, warehouses, and storage devices, and migrating them into a single customer record.
For the retailer, having a single dataset enabled in-store staff to better manage their customer interactions, know more about the customer’s past interactions with the brand online, and their activity in other stores. Customer relationship management datasets also contributed to better marketing practices, as they could tailor their strategies for marketing around individuals.
AWS Drupal was one of several legacy applications that was set for decommissioning and replacement with a newer solution. One of key drivers for this was that official support for this instance of Drupal was nearing its end.
This “Find and Book” re-platforming project was carried out by retailer to decommission its instance of AWS Drupal. In its place, they would implement Microsoft Azure DevOps and migrate all the current customer journeys to it.
Moving to a new platform would cause some disruption for the retailer, but the change to Azure DevOps also presented several opportunities to improve the customer experience and time-to-market for new features. The benefits of the new platform were:
- A modern technology stack
- Componentising of the SAS journey
- Test automation baked-in
- A single code base for all markets
- Configurable per market
- Removed dependency on lengthy release cycles
Once successfully implemented, the retailer would benefit from:
- Improved technical performance and stability
- Removed dependency on legacy Drupal platform
- Incorporation of new brand visual identity and improved design consistency
- Meet industry standard Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) AA certification for accessibility
- Improve performance for key pages in search engines such as Google, Bing, etc.
- Functionality to remain unchanged for existing user journeys
- User journeys are more configurable, enabling the creation of new journeys
- Localisation variances are stored as configuration
- Combined audiology and optical store pages
The retailer engaged several third parties to carry out the implementation and configuration of Azure DevOps, and the migration of existing customer data. To ensure the quality of this project, the retailer wanted a single, impartial partner that who could handle all the geographies they operate in, and would use a proven model backed by successful outcomes.