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Just Eat: Personalizing a food delivery service through real-time teamwork and real-time data

About Just Eat

Just Eat is a leading global hybrid marketplace for online food delivery, providing customers with an easy and secure way to order and pay for food from their favorite restaurants.

Industries: Retail & Consumer Goods, Food & Beverage
Location: United Kingdom

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About Netpremacy

Specializing in complex cloud strategies, Netpremacy delivers on business and digital transformation. In 2019, it won Google Cloud Specialization Partner of the Year for Work Transformation Enterprise.

Just Eat scales its data analytics capabilities and personalizes its offerings with Google Cloud, while enabling its teams to work together in real time wherever they are with G Suite and Google Meet.

Google Cloud results

  • Scales at speed to make real-time data analytics possible using BigQuery and Google Kubernetes Engine
  • Personalizes the customer experience with an “Adventurous Index,” built using machine learning on Google Cloud
  • Minimizes disruption and maximizes productivity by enabling staff to work together online from anywhere using G Suite
  • Google Meet aids collaboration between teams and partners, enabling timely launch of a major campaign benefiting NHS workers

Data latency slashed from 24 hours to one second

Restaurant food isn’t just for restaurants anymore. Every year, the app economy helps hundreds of millions of people get their favorite food delivered to them without having to leave their homes. Founded in Denmark and now headquartered in the UK, Just Eat has been a pioneer of food delivery services since it launched in 2001. What separates Just Eat in an increasingly crowded market is its commitment to serving the widest choice of the greatest possible menus. “We cover a much wider geography than lots of our competitors, so customers in less populated areas can still access the app and have a meal delivered,” says Richard Haigh, CTO at Just Eat. “Instead of being focused on delivery and logistics, the core of our business is as an online marketplace. We’re dedicated to the restaurants we work with and how we can help make them successful. They’re the supply for us, and we match them up with people who want to find a delicious meal.”

“We always want to be one step ahead, and that means being able to view and use information in real time. Our data engineers felt that the best way to build a new analytics platform at scale was with Google Cloud.”

Richard Haigh, CTO, Just Eat

It’s a philosophy that has paid off. Today tens of millions of customers rely on Just Eat to bring them the food they love from more than 155,000 restaurants. As the company began to expand into new countries, it needed to strengthen its technology infrastructure to support that growth. One major part of this project involved putting more collaborative solutions in place to help teams innovate, so in 2014, Just Eat migrated to G Suite to enable real-time collaboration. Three years later, with a boosted data engineering team, the company was ready for its next big infrastructure project: a business intelligence and analytics solution that would help it serve restaurant partners and customers in a more data-driven way.

“We were reporting double-digit growth year after year, but scale and latency was becoming a problem, as growth means more data to handle as well,” explains Richard. “We always want to be one step ahead, and that means being able to view and use information in real time. Our data engineers felt that the best way to build a new analytics platform at scale was with Google Cloud.”

“BigQuery is at the core of everything we do with data. With six technology platforms around the world, connecting the data side of things into all those different event streams means that we can query everything as a single unit, faster and more efficiently. That’s very powerful for us.”

Richard Haigh, CTO, Just Eat

Bringing together millions of data points on a single platform

By 2017, Just Eat’s active user base was expanding at a rate that was stretching its existing data analytics solution beyond the limit. The company was convinced that it could be learning more from its data in terms of business analysis reporting and could take advantage of personalization through machine learning. So, it hired a new team of experienced data engineers who began searching for a new platform that could better support the company’s vision. These data engineers wanted to be able to scale at speed and have access to real-time analytics and machine learning tools. At the same time, Just Eat runs a hybrid infrastructure, so it was imperative that any new platform was compatible with the rest of the company so that it could unify all the data streams in one place.

Just Eat worked closely with Google Cloud Premier Partner Netpremacy to find the right solution for its unique needs, and together they chose to migrate to Google Cloud. “Netpremacy helped us a lot, making sure we got the right architecture and tools from the very start,” says Richard.

With BigQuery, Just Eat now has the ability to view and understand its various data streams on a single platform. Working closely with Netpremacy, the company has integrated this with its existing event-driven architecture. “BigQuery is at the core of everything we do with data,” says Richard. “With six technology platforms around the world, connecting the data side of things into all those different event streams means that we can query everything as a single unit, faster and more efficiently. That’s very powerful for us.”

Just Eat’s data engineers also make extensive use of Google Kubernetes Engine to deploy and update any applications that need to integrate with other parts of the infrastructure. Using Kubernetes, the open source containerization technology developed at Google, ensures that applications can work the same way on multiple clouds. “The portability of Kubernetes, and the service we get within Google Kubernetes Engine, make it very easy for us to deploy quickly,” says Richard.

For Matt Cresswell, Director of Data Platforms at Just Eat, it’s all about empowering the data science team with self-service machine learning pipelines. “Google Kubernetes Engine allows our data engineers to automate model training, deployments, and scheduling,” he says. “By codifying repeatable tasks such as infrastructure provisioning, feature engineering, versioning, and deployment, we can move faster, while maturing at an even pace across the business.” He adds that today, Just Eat orchestrates and operates all of its offline models from one Kubernetes cluster, providing predictions for customers, restaurants, couriers, and the business as a whole.

“We put a lot of effort into using our data to improve our competitive edge. The level of personalization that we can achieve using Google Cloud, and the scale at which we can do it, really helps us connect better with our customers, and therefore stand out from our competitors.”

Richard Haigh, CTO, Just Eat

From responsive and scalable data platform to data-driven business

With Google Cloud, Just Eat has made a dramatic improvement to its data analytics in terms of scale and performance. The company now ingests 250 million events per day in real time and has increased the overall amount of data it can make available to its teams from 39 terabytes to 930 terabytes as of June 2019. Since the migration, 99% of queries are completed within 100 seconds, compared with 875 seconds before. Data latency has been reduced from 24 hours down to a second. “This has been a quantum leap for us in terms of getting a much more responsive and scalable data service,” says Richard. “Google Cloud has played a fundamental role in helping us achieve more with our data.”

With all these numbers comes the result of being able to understand what’s working in the business and where improvements can be made. The use of Google Cloud has not only helped to improve Just Eat’s analytics performance, it has also led to fundamental changes in the customer experience. Using its new data analytics platform, Just Eat has adopted machine learning to build its own proprietary “Customer Ontology” framework, a unique way to better understand and predict what customers want through data. As part of this initiative, Just Eat has built an “Adventurous Index” which learns from customers’ order history in order to recommend other restaurants they might like. For some customers, this will mean a wider variety of recommendations, while for others it could mean seeing more of their favorites. Just Eat is already seeing results: its audience has started ordering from a wider variety of partner restaurants.

“We put a lot of effort into using our data to improve our competitive edge,” says Richard. “The level of personalization that we can achieve using Google Cloud, and the scale at which we can do it, really helps us connect better with our customers, and therefore stand out from our competitors.”

Working (and innovating) together under any circumstances with G Suite

Since 2014, G Suite has been a key component of Just Eat’s expansion across Europe, Australia, and the Americas. Today, as Just Eat Takeaway.com, the company has more than 8,000 people employed across its markets. G Suite has been essential in helping the company to connect its employees and collaborate quickly and effectively. The company offers its workers various hardware and operating systems based on their needs, and the ability to work from any location and any device on G Suite allows Just Eat to collaborate without any disruption or compatibility issues.

Gmail and video conferencing with Google Meet are the main tools of communication. In its offices, Just Eat has kitted out its meeting rooms with Chromeboxes integrated with the company’s diaries. Employees can easily schedule meetings and book rooms on Calendar, as well as rely on standardized, high-performance hardware. Chromebooks have also been very useful for the IT helpdesk. “Chromebooks make fantastic temporary lend-out devices,” explains Richard. “They’re just so easy to set up and when you get running, everything’s synced up.”

Meanwhile, live editing on Docs, Sheets, and Slides helps employees in different countries and timezones work together in real time wherever they are. The company has also started using Jamboards, digital screens that combine the freedom of a physical whiteboard with the connectivity that defines any other G Suite product. “G Suite has been central to collaboration within our business,” says Richard. “We didn’t have the ability to create and share our work as easily before, but today, it’s second nature to us.”

In early 2020, as much of the world went into lockdown due to COVID-19, G Suite proved a vital part of ensuring the business continuity of Just Eat. “We were already used to team members working from home or in other locations, so we were very well prepared for everyone to work remotely,” explains Richard. “It meant that we could prioritize the safety of our staff and send everyone home before the government had officially announced lockdown measures.”

Google Meet, in particular, was mission critical both for making staff aware of pivoting business priorities and as a means of communicating with partners. In the UK, Just Eat launched a prominent campaign within weeks of the lockdown to provide National Health Service (NHS) workers with discounted meals for them and their families. For Richard, the collaboration was successful in large part because of Google Meet. “The only reason that campaign came together as quickly as it did, was because we quickly got the development and commercial teams into discussions with the NHS,” he says. “That kind of collaboration is at the heart of what makes it possible for Just Eat to react so quickly, and it pays off powerfully when it’s for a good cause.”

Just Eat has also been using G Suite in new ways during the lockdown. The internal communications team set up a Friday quiz and a company-wide virtual watercooler on Google Meet, for example. “It’s been great to see the productivity tools in G Suite used to keep morale high,” says Richard. The company has also used the lockdown to examine the way it works and adopt more efficient practices. Working from home has actually made cross-country collaboration easier in some respects, with employees able to be more flexible about their hours to accommodate time differences.

Even during lockdown, the business has continued to grow, merging with Takeaway.com in Q1 2020, with the combined Just Eat Takeaway.com group now operating in 24 countries across three continents. The technical challenge will be adapting to this dramatic growth and working with a new organization, but Richard believes that Just Eat now has the right tools, and plenty of practice. “With Google Cloud and G Suite, we have a platform that has helped us to scale and grow very quickly, while staying true to our vision,” he says. “We’re looking forward to that continued upward trend.”

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

Contact us

About Just Eat

Just Eat is a leading global hybrid marketplace for online food delivery, providing customers with an easy and secure way to order and pay for food from their favorite restaurants.

Industries: Retail & Consumer Goods, Food & Beverage
Location: United Kingdom

About Netpremacy

Specializing in complex cloud strategies, Netpremacy delivers on business and digital transformation. In 2019, it won Google Cloud Specialization Partner of the Year for Work Transformation Enterprise.