Pick n Pay reduces IT infrastructure cost with the adoption of serverless computing with AWS, and becomes nimbler in the process

Pick n Pay has completed migrating its IT infrastructure to Amazon Web Services, and will now work to extend into other cloud-based applications to deliver better digital services and cost savings for customers.

The move has seen Pick n Pay reduce its infrastructure cost by approximately 40% while driving up its competitiveness. This project forms part of the retailer's Project Future to drive efficiencies across the business and reinvest savings into lower prices for customers.

Pick n Pay's core infrastructure estate has moved completely to AWS. This includes the vast majority systems used to run the company ranging from finance and payroll, merchandise management, inventory management at store level and supply chain systems at operate the distribution centres, to its on-demand and online shop and data and analytics functionality.

This means that Pick n Pay no longer manages its own data centres or associated technology, allowing increased agility and speed to innovate.

This will now be housed in the cloud primarily in AWS in Cape Town, which is 140 times bigger than Pick n Pay's previous IT infrastructure. "The scale at which they work is very different to what we're used to, and we will be harnessing and leveraging these economies of scale across our business," explains Chris Shortt, Group Executive - Information and Technology.

Shortt says this has reduced project turnaround time from week to hours. "In the past, it could take weeks to increase capacity or receive newly ordered infrastructure requirements. This would have to incorporate planning, committing to a project term, and projecting the demand for the project before ordering it.

"We now have the flexibility to rapidly scale, almost immediately. An example is peak periods, such as Black Friday and Christmas, as well as our online scheduled delivery shopping service. Previously, we'd overprovision resources to make sure our systems could manage increased trade or traffic. Our systems are now automated to respond to demand accordingly. We no longer carry the cost for additional infrastructure and capacity while we wait for the demand to catch up."

This flexibility extends to experimenting with new innovations for customers. "Through the portal on AWS, we have space ready for installation and application within minutes should we want to test a system upgrade, for example. This is also more cost-effective as we only ‘pay-as-you-go' and can switch it on and off depending when it is being worked on."

Pick n Pay will also have access to AWS ecosystem of cloud-native applications to extend and complement its existing landscape, such as Snowflake for its ‘Data Lake'. "Internal and external data is now available to the entire business to run their analysis to inform key business decisions, they no longer require on the IT team to manage this."

Pick n Pay began the immense exercise of researching the feasibility to migrate to the cloud nearly three years ago.  

"This was a ground-breaking strategy in the South African market for a retailer with no reference ability. "We successfully migrated in seven months – with no hiccups – adding immense value to our business and customers through the applications and solutions AWS provides. Further opportunities remain to be unlocked as we will continuously introduce new and innovative functionalities to meet our customer needs using serverless computing," concludes Shortt.

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