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Kohl's leverages Google Cloud Platform for omnichannel retail

April 16, 2019
Thomas Kurian

CEO, Google Cloud

Since I started working at Google in December 2018, a constant source of inspiration has been hearing from customers about how they are digitizing their businesses using Google Cloud. I want to share some of their stories and news about some exciting new products we are introducing which is why I’ll be posting here regularly. So, let’s get started.

How Kohl's is leveraging Google Cloud Platform for omnichannel retail
Kohl’s is an omnichannel retailer focused on driving traffic, operational efficiency and delivering seamless omnichannel customer experiences. Ratnakar Lavu is Kohl’s Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer. He, and Kohl’s, are at the forefront of retail technology innovation, focusing on a frictionless customer journey across digital, mobile and more than 1,150 stores. As part of this journey to more closely unify its online and offline experiences for customers, the company was looking for supporting cloud services that would continue to drive  best-in-class data center infrastructure; the ability to manage data at a very large scale; and industry leading analytics and machine learning tools to continually understand real time data streams and help personalize experiences for their customers.

Kohl’s recognized the opportunity to take on a cloud partner to help drive the improvement of the speed and reliability of their operations, while they focused on a number of innovations to deepen customer experiences. “At the time, I was looking for an open and scalable platform to partner with our Kohl’s technology team as we transform our business by shifting to the cloud,” Ratnakar told me. “Google has great engineering talent as well as demonstrated experience solving stability and scale in its own Ads and Search business. At Kohl’s, we need to be bold and innovative in today’s retail environment, and therefore need partners who deeply understand how to manage risk.” 

Kohl’s leveraged several capabilities of Google Cloud. For example:

  • They built applications to automate deployment, scaling and operations.

  • They used monitoring capabilities to monitor for things like response time.

  • Scalable technology provided an infrastructure to elastically scale to site traffic.

  • They ran their infrastructure across multiple regions for high availability.

In 2017 and 2018, record-setting numbers of customers visited Kohls.com during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend and the digital platform experienced high double-digit growth both years. The capabilities provided by Google Cloud Platform (GCP) and Google’s data center infrastructure supported Kohl’s servers and systems during these key timeframes.

In addition, the Kohl’s team partnered together with Google’s core engineering team and services organization to optimize applications and make them more reliable. Our Customer Reliability Engineers (CREs) worked with them in advance of their peak time frames to test the infrastructure for performance, scaling, and fault tolerance. “Google CRE and services teams collaborated with us as we ran drills and exercises during each phase of preparation for peak time frames,” Ratnakar said. “As we continued to understand better how to scale, monitor, and support our applications in GCP and we are pleased that we worked with the CRE team as partners on monitoring services, alerting teams, and triaging work.”

We are grateful for our partnership with Ratnakar and the Kohl’s organization and are so happy to see their success using Google Cloud. Many other retailers, be they among the top 10 globally or bringing their new perspective to retail experiences, are also transforming their digital business models to capture new opportunities using Google Cloud.You can learn more here.

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