The Company operates a chain of more than 3,000 stores in Europe (Austria, Belgium, Hungary, Great Britain, Italy, Finland, Sweden), Asia (Japan, Korea) and Australia, and incurs significant costs for maintaining the IT infrastructure of its stores. The Customer had extensive plans: to optimise costs, carry out a large-scale modernisation of equipment in all retail locations and ensure timely software updates taking into account changes in tax legislation and requirements for fiscal documents in each country of its presence, as well as provide global support for the IT infrastructure of its stores 24/7. In 2018, ICL Services was invited to render services under this contract.
Goals and objectives
- It was necessary to optimise the IT infrastructure maintenance costs in the stores, including those relateв to cash registers, POS terminals and store servers (30,000+ devices).
- It was necessary to ensure a large-scale upgrade of equipment in order to replace outdated checkouts and terminals throughout the territory of the Company's presence. It was necessary to coordinate the supply of equipment and provide guidance to the contractor engineers directly in the stores, while making the necessary changes in the software.
Implemented our solution
- The service team includes more than 80 professionals: application developers, testers, infrastructure support specialists. Two test laboratories were established, where we arranged samples of equipment operating in stores throughout the geography of the Company's presence: a fleet of card readers, printers, mobile devices and self-service kiosks. Laboratories allow us to take into account the peculiarities of hardware when developing software, as well as to conduct all the necessary tests with high quality.
To ensure the required speed of development and delivery of updates, the project team applied DevOps approaches, in particular, Continuous Deployment (CD) and Continuous Integration (CI), as part of development and support: our DevOps developers are involved in supporting the solution and testers participate in the development of new releases.
Our project team used GitLab software to work with application code and infrastructure configurations, as well as to launch the CI/CD. When developing the trading platform, the team actively used Azure DevOps tools to provide a full development cycle from Scrum team management and code storage to automated deployment and testing of releases in a private cloud.
The builds are fully automated—the process of assembling artefacts and deploying software versions to the development environment takes place automatically. In addition, deployments were automated using Jenkins, which made it possible to ensure prompt mass deployment of software in all the Company's stores, taking into account the specifics of each country.
Slack and RedMine were used to facilitate communication between project teams (knowledge exchange, task scheduling and improvement of development processes).
- Infrastructure During the Pandemic.
Given the urgent events in 2020, the fashion retail industry is faced with the need to significantly optimise all key processes. In a number of countries, the Customer was forced to cut down the staff, and our developers were tasked with converting the existing cash registers into self-checkout terminals at minimal cost. After a series of experiments in the laboratory, where our engineers and developers used the experience of other projects with the participation of large retail companies, ICL Services engineers came up with the decision, which consisted in disabling a number of software components intended for the cashier and making minor software modifications without the need to purchase additional equipment. The solution completely satisfied the Customer, and we ensured its application in the selected stores.
- Way Forward.
The customer appreciates the quality and is attentive to the cost of services, the willingness to quickly respond to requests and make the necessary changes. But the market itself is changing rapidly, so we cannot be satisfied with what has already been achieved. Thus, our plans for the future are as follows:
- Further improvement of time to market to ensure even faster software delivery. We will achieve this by fully automating the software testing cycle.
- New projects to develop the marketplace and enable new services of the Customer.
- Active implementation of Agile practices in close coordination with the Customer. We have provided basic training for the teams involved in projects and will actively expand the use of Agile methodologies in order to speed up receiving feedback and making and implementing product development decisions.
- We have provided system integration for the trading platform, which is an end-to-end point of sale (POS) solution, including development, testing, installation and service.
- Our experts are involved in the development and customisation of the trading software platform of our partner for the Customer, taking into account the specifics of each country, such as the need to comply with fiscal requirements and support local loyalty programs. For some stores, we provide software integration with a third-party trading platform.
- Our team has made a significant contribution to the development of a purpose-designed solution for automated updating of the cash register software. This software platform provides software updates and deployment, infrastructure configuration and provisioning, as well as integration with the Customer's hardware. The platform also allows the Customer to semi-automatically update the software of cash registers and servers in stores and helps diagnose and reveal errors, information about which is then transmitted to the support team.