Case Study: Asda Stores & CenturyLink Deliver an Enhanced Customer Experience through “toyou”Service

AT A GLANCE

Industry: Retail

Challenge: Expand the business model to include delivering products from third-party consumer companies using stores as pick-up and fulfilment centres for online orders

Solution: Create new warehouse systems to manage single-unit fulfilment services for new product categories with a hybrid IT solution that uses colocation, managed firewall, cloud and managed hosting

photo-for-case-studyOverview

As one of the UK's leading retailers, Asda prides itself on caring about the communities in which it operates. Owned by Walmart, its 162,000 colleagues serve up to 18 million customers each week across its 624 stores across the UK as well as online. "We are always looking at how we can improve the experience we offer to our customers. We know that convenience plays a huge part in our customers' daily lives so we are adapting our business to meet that change in consumer behaviour" said Dave Potter - Senior Director Infrastructure Operations

Challenge: Transforming warehouse systems for greater agility

Asda has developed an innovative end-to-end parcel solution called toyou. This market-leading solution takes advantage of Asda’s extensive logistics network to enable consumers to return or collect purchases from third-party online retailers across its stores, petrol forecourts and Click & Collect points. A consumer who buys a non-grocery product from a retailer, such as Missguided, would have the ability to pick it up or return the item at an Asda store rather than wait for home or office delivery. The goal is to provide a next generation parcel experience and enhance Asda’s reputation for convenience shopping.

Implementation required a much more agile warehouse and supply chain management system so the new strategy called for an outsourcing partner with dedicated hardware. There was also the need to host the new system off-site so that there was no reliance on a single store or team. Part of this approach included the outsourcing the administration of the operating system and application licenses to manage costs. Keeping costs low as the business model expanded supported the store's 'Every Day Low Cost' brand position.

“When we introduced toyou, it was vital that we didn’t put extra pressure on our legacy IT infrastructure. We needed this potential customer base expansion to be a seamless transition, ensuring disruption was kept to a minimum.” said Steve Fisher – Senior Programme and Engagement Manager.

Solution: Partner with CenturyLink for a full suite of managed services 

Asda chose a warehouse management software platform from CenturyLink's partner Manhattan Associates. The multi-faceted solution was deployed in a colocation arrangement at two London area data centres. CenturyLink Managed Hosting administered Asda's operating systems, and Oracle and SQL databases on a full life cycle basis as part of the solution. Asda created its complete development, test certification and production environments for the Manhattan Associates platform on that dedicated infrastructure.

Asda used CenturyLink Dedicated Cloud Compute to provide Compute and Managed Storage with further capacity on-demand to house the data flowing through Asda's business. The security requirement was accomplished with a dedicated cloud firewall protecting the entire solution.

CenturyLink instituted Disaster Recovery services between the two data centres at the application and database level, as well as managed firewalls to secure the data. CenturyLink also implemented Managed Load Balancing to manage the entire virtual environment and interface to the all the linked warehouses.

Results: Lean IT operations                                                                         

Asda was able to launch this pioneering venture move to partner with third-party consumer goods companies in November 2015. They adopted a lean internal IT approach as a result of moving most of their IT operations to CenturyLink. CenturyLink support staff enabled the company to expand its business into this novel third-party fulfilment strategy within its current capabilities.

Future plans: Organic growth, consolidation

Having launched almost a year ago, Asda and CenturyLink are continuing to develop the working relationship and discuss what opportunities could be available as toyou grows and develops.

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