Case Study: How Northgate Market Is Future-Proofing Grocery

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Case Study: How Northgate Market Is Future-Proofing Grocery

By Jamie Grill-Goodman - 07/26/2019
Northgate called on open-source software platform to develop a complete end-to-end ordering system for the retailer.

As consumers alter how they shop for groceries, retailers must bring their digital offerings up-to-speed. Family-owned grocery chain Northgate Market knows this first-hand. 

The retailer, operating out of Anaheim, CA, offers both the staples of a typical grocery store and authentic ingredients imported directly from Mexico. It brings this unique experience to more than 40 locations throughout California, from Los Angeles County to San Diego County. However, Northgate, which opened in 1980, was struggling to update its digital offerings to meet customer and vendor demands for seamless ordering experiences.

With complex, legacy websites in place that offered limited internal capabilities, bringing new food items to market was often delayed. Not only that, but Northgate's main customer-facing website wasn’t ADA compliant, creating larger brand reputation issues, and siloed data was also a big issue.

These legacy websites “led to slower performance and made it nearly impossible for us to scale into new markets and compete at the level our customers demanded,” Harrison Lewis, CIO for Northgate Market, told RIS.

To solve these issues Northgate called on open-source software platform Pimcore to develop a complete end-to-end ordering system for the retailer. The solution gives Northgate’s customers and vendors the ability to order online, and provides a detailed track record of retail store stock and vendor-specific requirements. The website was also overhauled to meet ADA standards, making offerings accessible to all customers.

When Pimcore replaced these websites and overhauled our data management approach, we were able to lower overall implementation and support costs, which gave us more resources to improve customer experience,” says Lewis.

In terms of Northgate's ADA compliance portal it was crucial that the grocer overhaul this component of its site to make its platform fully inclusive for all customers.

"Becoming ADA compliant helped us protect our brand from being tarnished and further enabled us to succeed, as we were able to support new customers on the platform that we were unable to service before," Lewis explains. "This was of the utmost importance to our transformation, and Pimcore’s web content management platform enabled us to customize both mobile and desktop experiences with multilingual interfaces and responsive content.”

Northgate also faced another challange – siloed data – which was a big issue for the retailer’s customer experience strategy.

“All of our product data was spread across systems and isolated applications, and we needed a way to consolidate this information in a single format so it could be easily accessed by our stakeholders (i.e. individual stores, vendors, associates),” says Lewis. “Pimcore provided an open-source solution that allowed us to centralize all of this information into one, easy to access record so experiences could be consistent across parties, making it easier for our teams to distribute content across channels.”

Today Northgate is able to provide a streamlined user experience for its associates, which has really helped the business processes be more efficient and effective.

“We worked with a UX expert in order to make sure that this system was as easy to understand as possible for all necessary stakeholders,” explains Lewis. “Pimcore helped guide our associates through the entire transformation process in order to ensure full buy-in from our associates who would be using the technology, and a seamless shift to an updated data management solution. Now, our associates feel confident interacting with the new systems, as it gives them more time to focus on providing differentiated, next-level customer experiences, rather than focusing on back-end issues they faced time and time again.”

By ensuring that digital assets and product information are organized and consolidated, Northgate can now accelerate the speed at which they’re able to deliver differentiated customer experiences and innovate moving forward.

In fact, Northgate’s work continues today, with ongoing data-focused projects, including the retailer’s migration of 500 development and production servers to Google Cloud Platform, led by Pimcore. The move enables Northgate to build a more mature digital environment, future-proof its IT department and compete at scale with online grocery leaders.

Northgate launched the Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) initiative to migrate all their servers from on-premise and AWS to Google Cloud Platform (GCP) in order to eliminate multiple on-premise data centers and provision a standardized and scalable environment. This has helped improve the robustness of the IT services by enhancing control on utilization, security, and monitoring.

“It is clear that the future is in leveraging cloud services, not hardware,” says Lewis. “We recognized we needed to reinvent our strategy and really future proof our infrastructure, and Google Cloud Platform was exactly what we were looking for. Pimcore was instrumental assisting us in rationalizing our server environment resulting in a 60% reduction in server count. And, they assisted in preparing our data, network, application, and security architectures along with our talented IT associates for the cloud.”

Northgate future-proofs itself not only by leveraging GCP’s App Engine and Compute Engine options, but also the ability to crunch large amounts of data to aid in optimizing their operations. Northgate is utilizing GCP’s Big Query capabilities and building a Data Lake. TensorFlow will be employed for machine learning and truly help innovate how the business operates. By using a single cloud platform, Northgate is reducing rogue environments and ensuring increased data integrity and security.