Loblaw rises above COVID-19 demand spike using cloud

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Loblaw rises above COVID-19 demand spike using cloud

By Dan Berthiaume - 06/25/2020

Canada’s largest grocer met unprecedented online traffic and order volumes with Google Cloud resources.

When COVID-19 first hit Canada in winter 2020, Loblaw was one of a few grocery chains in Canada offering the ability to order online and pick up groceries the same day. As more customers moved their shopping to online due to fears of COVID-19 transmission, the company shifted quickly to meet the rising demand. 

As online traffic and order volumes reached unprecedented levels, the performance of Loblaw’s online grocery websites began to strain under the load. The retailer utilized Google Cloud resources to ensure it could scale and keep up with customer demand for food and other critical goods during the pandemic. 

Google Cloud activated its BFCM (Black Friday Cyber Monday) protocols, including a dedicated war room with Loblaw’s digital’s technology team where engineers from both companies worked side-by-side to quickly adjust the retailer’s platform and ensure an uninterrupted customer experience. Together, Loblaws digital and Google Cloud team members stabilized and settled into a level of online traffic that Loblaw now considers to be the “new normal.” According to Loblaw, systems are operating at a scale comparable to other large global e-commerce retailers. 

“In the matter of days, our online traffic spiked four-fold,” said Sharon Lansing, VP, online grocery Loblaw. “During this time, it was critical that our teams were able to find ways to better serve our customers and ensure that we were able to deliver that service quickly.” 

Loblaw has also leveraged the Google Cloud platform to scale up other aspects of its omnichannel operations, including its PC Express BOPIS service and Takeoff Technologies-based automated microfulfillment centers. To expand PC Express operations, Loblaw hired thousands of new personal shoppers, added thousands of slots for pickup every week, and introduced new technology to increase capacity across the country. 

Loblaw is now in the process of consolidating multiple data sources in Google Cloud, which will provide the ability to look across its enterprise data and find new ways to serve customers.