Smartbox Group, a leading European retailer of gift experiences, has expanded its relationship with NUtanix to support its digital modernisation project.
Smartbox leverages Nutanix software to modernize its IT infrastructure, streamline operations, and reduce costs in order to delight customers with tailored, real-time experiences.
A seamless omnichannel customer experience is now a must have for retailers, as customers expect online shopping experiences that draw from their digital behaviour and are tailored to them. This requires real time data analysis, across multiple sources as well as a modern technology infrastructure that is automated, secure, supports the use of artificial intelligence, and, is most importantly, always available.
Providing gift boxes, gift experiences, and memories for clients across Europe, Smartbox serves 11 countries, distributing nearly 6.5 million gift experiences annually, as well as its unique brand of gift boxes to 10,000 major outlets through retail partners and online stores. The sheer scale of its operations and its many webstores demand constant uptime, scalability during seasonal peak times, flexibility in development, and tailored experiences to its customers.
“Our previous systems were just not able to support our business vision and something drastic had to be done if we were going to be able to continue to support our business expansion across Europe and ensure customer fulfilment,” says Paul Cash, director: IT operations at Smartbox. “Nutanix, more than any other partner, has allowed us to get more out of our IT infrastructure, so it can add value to the business.
“Its solutions have enabled us to take back control of our environment and allowed us to focus on innovation first rather than maintaining a legacy infrastructure.”
With a keen understanding of the challenges and opportunities in the retail industry, the Smartbox team invested in a hyperconverged environment that marries the best of its on-premise IT systems with public cloud services, to be more nimble and quickly adjust to customers’ needs. Its base requirements included the need for full visibility across all IT assets and services, advanced data analytics, the ability to control cloud usage, and scale out DevOps.
To support this shift, in the last 18 months Smartbox has adopted Nutanix AHV, which has both allowed it to reduce its datacentre footprint from 12 to one and provided it with enhanced flexibility.
Additionally, the company has moved some elastic workloads, like its eCommerce storefront to AWS.
The overall environment supports hybrid cloud computing, with seamless connectivity between its Nutanix-powered datacentre and its public cloud environment. The IT infrastructure now better caters to its development teams and is stable enough to run its web services and all core backend applications.
Smartbox is also using Beam to keep public cloud costs in check – which often was 30 to 40% higher than budgeted prior to the deployment. With Beam, the IT team can now utilize a cost based model to show departments the actual footprint and cost of running application environments and the IT they consume. Additionally, Nutanix Era has helped Smartbox simplify databases and management solutions across many environments, while Prism Pro supports automated infrastructure management, all to drive more flexibility.
“Retailers need the flexibility to change the course of their business at a drop of a hat. Whether to cater for seasonal fluctuations, to scale up or down for a sale, or to add digital services – automation and adaptability are what stands between failure and success,” says Dom Poloniecki, GM: sales, Western Europe and sub-Saharan Africa region at Nutanix.
“Smartbox has really got the mix between public and private cloud right, it not only understands the costs of its on- and off-premise infrastructure but is able to prove the value of IT to the business and ensure that each department is responsible for its own costs. Smartbox is not just keeping the lights on – it is delighting its customers and creating greater loyalty.”
Looking ahead, the company plans to leverage its Nutanix software investment tools to deliver self-provisioning of IT resources across the business. It is working to create an environment where its developers are able to spin up changes to its sites, add promotional offerings, and create new products, without having to wait for IT to approve requests. Smartbox believes this will allow it to more proactively act on business opportunities and more easily adapt to customers’ needs.