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eyos: scaling from small startup to global business with App Engine

About eyos

eyos enables in-store shopper identification, automated in-store marketing and data-driven growth by connecting 100% of receipt-level data from physical retail stores to any existing platforms in real-time.

Industries: Retail & Consumer Goods
Location: United Kingdom

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With a highly dynamic solution built on App Engine, eyos' offering, eyos retail, enables high-street retailers to identify in-store customers through digital receipts, leveraging Google services to scale from a startup to a global business.

Google Cloud results

  • Scaled from startup to global business with managed services on App Engine
  • Enables access to brick-and-mortar retail data within 2.5 seconds of an in-store purchase
  • Rapidly delivers detailed logs and information for support tickets with BigQuery

Access to in-store retail data within 2.5 seconds

When a purchase is made online, retailers gather a wealth of information about customer preferences, behavior and activity and use that information to improve products, services, marketing and customer satisfaction. But despite rapid growth in online retail, the great majority of transactions still take place in brick-and-mortar stores, as Alexander Kayser, CEO and co-founder of eyos, explains: "Large high-street retailers typically have 80 to 90% of their business in the physical world and between 10 and 20% online. Small retailers and large ones, processing several hundred million transactions a year in their stores often know next to nothing about the people walking in and out of their stores, buying their products, and spending money in the shops. There's a tremendous demand from retailers to understand who their in-store customers are."

Loyalty programs, typically incentivized with discounts and offers, can be expensive for retailers to run, which is why Alexander and his team created eyos retail, a light-touch, non-invasive and EPOS-agnostic licensed software application that enables retailers to identify in-store customers and their purchases. It streams data into a retailer's digital ecosystem in real-time, so they can measure in-store sales impact of their digital ad spend, enhance their CRM database, enable offline product reviews and enhance the value of brick-and-mortar data.

In the beginning, this simple-sounding concept posed a major infrastructure challenge for the small startup team. Retailers experience strong fluctuations in traffic that can prove unpredictable, and the eyos retail app had to scale to match activity with a highly available platform.

"When we started out, Google App Engine's managed service was hugely appealing. We could build our product directly on the cloud, giving us much faster routes to market. It also meant we could focus on what we wanted to do and not worry about configuring servers in the back end," says Alexander.

"Our first client was a t-shirt shop with one store and one till. Now, our largest client operates on four continents. With each client that we bring on board, we need to scale dynamically in real time, as many factors, including weather and peak trading, impact in-store sales and transaction volumes."

Alexander Kayser, CEO and co-founder, eyos

From startup to scale with App Engine

Retail information from brick-and-mortar stores is geographically dispersed and subject to major fluctuations in volume which can be hard to predict. "Our application had to be ready to sit on tens of thousands of tills around the world," says Alexander. "So naturally, the first question was—where do we process the data, and how?"

To do that, the eyos team chose App Engine. As a managed solution, it gave the team the time and space they needed to get their product off the ground, while its simple, automatic scaling made it a natural fit with the team's expectations. "We didn't want to muck around with arranging servers," says Alexander. "We wanted to start building our product immediately. App Engine didn't just give us the fastest route to market, but its pricing system and scaling delivered a system that kept delivering right up to the present day."

As the company grew, it incorporated more Google Cloud products into its system, such as the Search API to enable natural language searches on transactions. eyos took advantage of Google Cloud's compatibility to remain agnostic, ready to connect fast to any customer CRM, services or partners.

"Over the years, we've added to App Engine with BigQuery, Datastore, Looker Studio and other products, to build an environment very much intertwined with Google Cloud. So from how our application on the till connects to the cloud, to how data is passed on to other systems, interrogated, queried, and reported, it's all part of one big system that's easy for us to manage and run," says David Humbla, Lead Cloud Engineer, eyos.

Real-time retail data access with BigQuery

The introduction of BigQuery delivered major advantages to eyos retail and its clients. Because BigQuery enables ultra-fast querying of huge datasets, eyos could upgrade its support services, providing rapid answers to support tickets from its clients. "We connected our support system directly to BigQuery and App Engine," says David. "So when a support ticket comes in, it is immediately enhanced with all relevant logs and everything we have in BigQuery, so the support team have all the technical information ready to hand. That wasn't possible before."

"If one of our customers wants to know anything about the in-store retail customer and transactional data across the world BigQuery enables us to return results within seconds. Sometimes, we get asked if we could deliver actionable data within one month of purchase. Good news is that we do it within 2.5 seconds," says Alexander.

"We trust Google to automatically scale to any need, both as we create new customers and as we process retail transactional data in real time throughout the day. Driven by in-store retail transaction volumes, we have hourly, daily, and weekly peaks in processing demand, across the globe. With Google Cloud autoscaling and managed servers, we don't even have to think about them."

David Humbla, Lead Cloud Engineer, eyos

Budgeting made easy with predictable customer-friendly pricing

Thanks to clear Google Cloud pricing, eyos keeps costs in check during rapid growth, including a reported five-digit increase in data volume in 18 months. "Optimizing Google Cloud to keep our invoices down is so straightforward," says Alexander. "We have a certain invoice level we meet every month and Google Cloud allows us to make solid plans to meet it, so we're not locked into anything."

Now with retailers using eyos retail across four continents, eyos is looking to use Looker Studio to create a clear internal picture of its growing estate. At the same time, the same tools are being tested to help customers keep track of their own activity in a simple, visually appealing format.

"We anticipate continued high-growth in the number of transactions we process through App Engine this year. It's fantastic to rely on Google Cloud, and to never need to discuss whether App Engine, Datastore or BigQuery will be able to support our growth. It's critical, because as a startup the first few years were fairly flat. Then when we hit our first bigger client, doors began opening fast. Throughout that expansion, Google Cloud kept us in a very comfortable position where we didn't have to worry about the technicalities of scaling. Now we're processing receipts in 30 countries," concludes Alexander.

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

Contact us

About eyos

eyos enables in-store shopper identification, automated in-store marketing and data-driven growth by connecting 100% of receipt-level data from physical retail stores to any existing platforms in real-time.

Industries: Retail & Consumer Goods
Location: United Kingdom