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Danone: Deploying new ecommerce strategies globally with commercetools on Google Cloud

About Danone

Danone is one of the most successful health food companies in the world, with products available in more than 120 countries worldwide and sales of €24.3 billion in 2021.

Industries: Retail & Consumer Goods
Location: UK

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About commercetools

commercetools is a leading software for next-generation B2C and B2B commerce built on modern MACH principles (microservice-based, API-first, cloud-native, and headless).

By implementing commercetools on Google Cloud, Danone can quickly develop new ecommerce solutions to connect directly with consumers, collecting and analyzing sales data to better serve their needs.

Google Cloud results

  • Enables Danone to respond quickly to changing consumer needs by helping to deliver new digital commerce solutions rapidly
  • Offers easy scaling for Danone's commercetools deployments powered by Google Cloud to meet peaks in traffic
  • Delivers insights into consumer behavior, with data made available for further processing and analysis
  • Adapt to the needs of specific markets internationally with flexible functionality, from sampling to direct sales

Tech solution to sell baby formula directly ready in weeks

Balancing innovation and an entrepreneurial spirit with social responsibility is becoming increasingly important as we all become more aware of our impact on the planet. It's an approach that can bring multiple benefits, from employee retention to customer engagement. For Danone, balancing innovation with a social purpose has been part of its mission from the beginning, when its founder first began making yogurts to help children with intestinal infections.

In order to bring health through food to as many people as possible, Danone now operates four key business lines, each with its own range of locally and globally recognizable brands: dairy and plant-based products such as Actimel, waters such as Evian and Volvic, early-life nutrition including Cow & Gate, and specialized nutrition through the Nutria brand. Danone's goal is not only to support the health and well-being of populations around the world, but also to make eating and drinking habits more sustainable.

To maintain its leading position in multiple sectors, Danone recently launched its 'Renew Danone' strategy. Luke O'Connell, Head of Data and Technology at Danone, is part of a new team formed to promote digital innovation. "We're reimagining the way we do business by connecting and integrating specialist functions such as IT into the business side of the company," explains O'Connell. "The teams that are supporting technology and data are much closer to strategic decision-making and execution."

Five years ago, when a baby formula supply crisis resulted in empty shelves across Europe, Danone needed an ecommerce solution that it could implement quickly. It chose commercetools, deployed on Google Cloud. Since then, it's implemented in a number of markets internationally to meet its evolving ecommerce needs, from direct sales to product sampling.

"As consumer needs evolve, the ability to offer a basket anywhere, and to connect with them directly, have become really important," says O'Connell. "That's what commercetools on Google Cloud is helping us to do."

Choosing modular technology for rapid deployment

In 2013, cross-border trade concerns in China created availability issues for infant formula, leading to shortages of the Danone-owned brands Cow & Gate and Aptamil in Europe. With unpredictable surges in demand leaving store shelves empty and parents frustrated, Danone needed to create a more direct way to reach consumers.

To build and implement a solution as quickly as possible, along with the infrastructure necessary to support it, Danone decided to look for modular solutions based on the MACH approach, which is microservices-driven, API- and cloud-first, and headless. As well as deploying quickly, this would enable it to choose a solution powerful and flexible enough to deploy across multiple markets internationally.

"Across our markets, we use a range of different web content management systems," says O'Connell. "We chose commercetools because it can easily plug into all of them, which is really attractive for a decentralized tech organization, and also minimizes the cost and time to deploy. It's also future-facing, enabling us to pick and choose from the most effective components for a more modular system in the future."

"As consumer needs evolve, the ability to offer a basket anywhere, and to connect with them directly, have become really important. That's what commercetools on Google Cloud is helping us to do."

Luke O'Connell, Head of Data and Technology, Danone

Deploying commercetools on Google Cloud

In order to deliver its headless, flexible yet powerful platform, commercetools runs almost all its services on Google Cloud. "We've historically been cloud-vendor agnostic, but it's become increasingly clear that Google Cloud best meets our customers' needs and ambitions," says Monia Spartà, Head of Infrastructure Alliances at commercetools. "It serves the billions of API requests made every day by our customers, and helps us to empower them to design unique and engaging commerce experiences."

By choosing Google Cloud as their cloud platform to run commercetools, customers can make the most of the Google Cloud ecosystem to extend and scale commercetools, securing and managing APIs with Apigee API Management, building and running microservices with Google Kubernetes Engine and Cloud Run, and getting data out of commercetools using Pub/Sub. And as commercetools is now available through Google Cloud Marketplace, it's even easier for customers to choose Google Cloud as their cloud platform to deploy commercetools.

Connecting directly with consumers to solve supply issues

With commercetools, Danone is able to deploy customized digital commerce solutions and online consumer experiences to fit its changing needs across multiple markets. For its baby formula deployment, Danone was able to add custom features that the particular use case required, such as rules to limit the number of units purchased, to make sure the situation in stores wasn't replicated online. Thanks to easy integration, the technical deployment of commercetools following Danone's initial choice of the solution was ready to go within weeks.

"The technological part was ready long before the fulfillment, logistics, and payment provider parts of the puzzle fell into place," says O'Connell. "Using commercetools on Google Cloud, it's easy to add a commerce component such as a cart to an already-existing product page. There's no new web design for consumers to navigate, making it a seamless and integrated experience for them."

"We've historically been cloud-vendor agnostic, but it's become increasingly clear that Google Cloud best meets our customers' needs and ambitions. It serves the billions of API requests made every day by our customers, and helps us to empower them to design unique and engaging commerce experiences."

Monia Spartà, Head of Infrastructure Alliances, commercetools

Adapting flexibly to use cases across the globe

Following the success of its baby formula direct sales deployment, Danone continues to expand the ways in which it is using commercetools to connect with consumers. In the UK, Danone's healthcare division is deploying it to enable B2B consumers to order medical samples directly. Not only does that make the process easier for consumers, it's also helping Danone to gather important data on who its consumers are, and how they use its products.

"Previously, our sampling service was very labor-intensive and time-consuming, with medical professionals ordering samples using paper-based forms and sales reps physically transporting them," O'Connel adds. "As the sampling models are all zero-cost and have strict restrictions on order numbers, the process of creating a digital sampling service has really demonstrated the flexibility of commercetools." Healthcare professionals also can also choose delivery to their own office or directly to a patient.

Danone is able to connect its sampling orders data with its Sales Reps' field software, meaning reps can use it to check in with consumers and follow up on orders, improving the relationship with consumers and creating new sales opportunities.

Using new data and insights to deliver better services

For O'Connell, one of the biggest advantages of deploying commercetools is that Danone has started collecting commerce data and processing it at scale. "For the first time, as a consumer packaged goods company, we understand who our consumers are, as previously we have always had to rely on third-party data," says O'Connell. "Connecting directly with our consumers is not just right for them and commercially advantageous, it also brings us great data and insights."

Because it's so flexible, teams in markets globally can deploy the platform to suit their own needs and business objectives. "We can spin up a new instance of commercetools and deploy in minutes, whether that be for a new use case or for a new market," says O'Connell. "And as commercetools offers powerful scalability thanks to Google Cloud, if another availability crisis happened, we would be able to cope with the extra traffic seamlessly."

With the need to innovate as part of its 'Renew Danone' plan, O'Connell is looking forward to developing more ways of reaching out to consumers. "Danone knows that the relationship with the consumer is changing, and using commercetools on Google Cloud, enables us to think faster," he says.

"For the first time, as a consumer packaged goods company, we understand who our consumers are, as previously we have always had to rely on third-party data. Connecting directly with our consumers is not just right for them and commercially advantageous, it also brings us great data and insights."

Luke O'Connell, Head of Data and Technology, Danone

Tell us your challenge. We're here to help.

Contact us

About Danone

Danone is one of the most successful health food companies in the world, with products available in more than 120 countries worldwide and sales of €24.3 billion in 2021.

Industries: Retail & Consumer Goods
Location: UK

About commercetools

commercetools is a leading software for next-generation B2C and B2B commerce built on modern MACH principles (microservice-based, API-first, cloud-native, and headless).