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Noon.com: Driving growth and innovation across the Middle East to serve online shoppers better

About Noon.com

Headquartered in Riyadh, KSA, Noon.com is a homegrown ecommerce marketplace that caters to the Middle East and plans to become the number one online retailer in the region, supporting a dynamic digital economy for both consumers and local businesses.

Industries: Retail & Consumer Goods
Location: KSA, UAE, Egypt

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Noon.com built its ecommerce platform on Google Cloud to access self-managed services, enabling it to focus on delivering value to users and developing a range of services across the Middle East.

Google Cloud results

  • Enables developers to set up a fully functioning staging environment in just two weeks
  • Delivers glitch-free experiences to nearly 4X more daily users during peak seasons with autoscale on Google Kubernetes Engine
  • Informs business decisions and personalizes the customer experience with real-time data streaming on BigQuery
  • Achieves 99.999% availability with zero downtime for planned maintenance and schema changes, with a fully managed relational database

40% lower operational costs with Google Kubernetes Engine

For Middle Eastern businesses and consumers alike, exciting things are happening in the world of online shopping. With a wealthy population of more than 440 million people and a high smartphone and internet penetration rate, the region is full of commercial opportunity. Meanwhile, with the rising popularity of digital wallets in Egypt, the region's biggest market, it’s becoming easier than ever for consumers to find and purchase their favorite goods online. Playing a pivotal role in this shift, Noon.com is an ecommerce platform specifically designed to bring Middle Eastern businesses and consumers together online.

The first ecommerce platform to use Arabic as the native language for its user interface, Noon.com is setting a new design standard for online shopping in the region. The platform helps visitors to discover and shop products with same day or next day delivery, easy payment and return options, as well as a 24-hour customer service. A dedicated product integrity team, trained by world-renowned brands to identify authentic and fraudulent products, helps consumers buy anything they need, from cosmetics to technology, with confidence.

“Our vision is to generate value and dynamism in the region. Not just by facilitating consumption, but also by supporting production, enabling businesses to easily offer their products online. Google Cloud supports our mission with a reliable, self-managed infrastructure that lets us focus on our core values.”

Hisham Zarka, CTO, Noon.com

Operating in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt, Noon.com offers several services designed to meet its users’ diverse needs. This includes Noon Daily, which delivers groceries to doorsteps, and NowNow, which gives customers access to stores and services in their local neighborhood with delivery guaranteed within minutes of ordering. To ensure it has the backend logistics, supply chain systems, and infrastructure in place to support all this, Noon.com focused on integrating and automating internal processes from the very start, turning to Google Cloud as its infrastructure of choice in 2016.

“Our vision is to generate value and dynamism in the region. Not just by facilitating consumption, but also by supporting production, enabling businesses to easily offer their products online,” says Hisham Zarka, CTO at Noon.com. “Google Cloud supports our mission with a reliable, self-managed infrastructure that lets us focus on our core values,” he says of the decision.

Launching a homegrown ecommerce infrastructure with Google Kubernetes Engine

Karthick Ar, Tech Lead, DevOps at Noon.com, has been with the company since before its services were publicly available and was directly involved in the choice of cloud provider to bring the company’s vision to life. “We knew that we were launching a platform with incredible potential for growth,” he recalls, explaining that, from day one, Noon.com’s approach to administering the technology behind its services was containerization. “Google Cloud has been working with containers for the best part of 15 years. We knew that it would have the solutions we needed to launch the platform effectively, but also make it work in the long run,” he says.

To facilitate the work of Noon.com’s developers in administering its containers and harnessing this modern approach to infrastructure, the company relies on Kubernetes, the de facto standard for container management. Originated by Google and open sourced in 2014, Kubernetes is based on more than 15 years of Google experience with containers. “We went with Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE) because we wanted to get the best out of Kubernetes, and we were impressed with how easy and straightforward it was to implement, operate, and manage,” Karthick shares. “By following the documentation available, we built a fully functioning staging environment in just two weeks. That’s when we knew that we had made the right choice.”

Today, Noon.com runs all of its production clusters on GKE, with an easy-to-use interface where it can manage all containers, at scale, in just one place. For Alex Nadalin, SVP of Engineering at Noon.com, the greatest proof that this was the right decision is the time and peace of mind it has given his team.

“With GKE, we’re as comfortable as we could be,” he shares. “Once we develop and deploy the application, we have complete control to manage that GKE environment. We get the choice to automatically upgrade and repair Kubernetes nodes if something goes wrong, without worrying about availability, because Google site reliability engineers (SREs) constantly monitor our cluster and its computing, networking, and storage resources. These managed services let us focus on supporting the users of our platform, such as by making sure there are no fraudulent attempts on the marketplace.”

And the team of developers concentrated on adding value to Noon.com has been growing from day one. For Karthick, training them is easy. “Our applications are easy to deploy and monitor on our Google Cloud environment, so we can focus on supporting our team of developers and enable their productivity without having to worry about troubleshooting issues. This has been invaluable for our growth,” he explains.

Meanwhile, the company is able to run internet-scale applications that can absorb large spikes in traffic. With autoscaling, resources are optimized when the platform scales up and down based on demand. As a result, Karthick estimates that GKE helps Noon.com reduce operational costs by up to 40%. “Without GKE automatically creating, managing, and scaling clusters, we’d need a considerable amount of people from our DevOps team to focus exclusively on that,” he shares. Karthick emphasizes the importance of not having to worry about this management overhead during peak times such as Yellow Fridays, which take place at the end of November and attract nearly four times the average number of daily visitors to its platform. Just how busy is this event? Noon.com delivery drivers typically ring more than 100 doorbells per minute during Yellow Friday, traveling the equivalent of 30 times the Earth’s circumference. Meanwhile, all the packages sent typically weigh more than 20 blue whales. Needless to say, it’s the biggest yearly sales season for the company.

“We’ve had three successful Yellow Fridays and counting, and I credit much of that success to our GKE cluster. All we had to do was some basic capacity planning, and GKE automatically scaled up to ensure our services would remain available for nearly four times the amount of users compared to our normal traffic days,” he shares.

“Ecommerce is all about great experiences. Customers must find what they need quickly, shop in a straightforward manner, and enjoy swift deliveries. This must work seamlessly, as must our backend operations. With BigQuery, we easily query streaming data in real time to get all the information needed to make this happen.”

Karthick Ar, Tech Lead, DevOps, Noon.com

Enabling a smooth, agile workflow to help developers get things done

Noon.com uses the Google Cloud operations suite to monitor, troubleshoot, and improve application performance on its Google Cloud environment, proactively fixing issues before they impact any customer services. Meanwhile, Cloud Build and Container Registry help developers to build, test, deploy, and onboard new applications to the platform, deciding who can access what with fine-grained access control. “As soon as developers create their code, we can onboard a new application to our platform in five minutes, which is incredibly useful because we’re constantly looking to improve and develop our services for customers, which often entails creating new code to bring new functionalities to them via the platform,” explains Karthick.

Behind the user interface of Noon.com, there are many teams working to bring every request to life in real time when customers browse the platform and order a product. Logistics, support, and operations teams rely on the resulting customer request data, exported from Noon.com’s website to be analyzed on BigQuery, to inform the operations that deliver optimal service to customers in real time.

Democratizing data across teams with BigQuery and Cloud SQL

“Ecommerce is all about great experiences. Customers must find what they need quickly, shop in a straightforward manner, and enjoy swift deliveries. This must work seamlessly, as must our backend operations,” says Karthick. “With BigQuery, we easily query streaming data in real time to get all the information needed to make this happen.”

When he says “we,” Karthick isn’t referring to an in-house data engineering team, but any colleague from finance to marketing. Because most Noon.com employees are already familiar with SQL, BigQuery makes it possible to offload much of the table and dataset maintenance work that would normally require the support of a data team. “Without BigQuery, we’d have to hire 20 or 30 people with data engineering backgrounds to extract data, as other teams would have no way to access the datasets,” says Karthick. “Today, it’s easy for anyone to query the database, which means it’s easier for anyone to solve domain-specific problems, and that’s where we all need to be spending most of our time. Being able to decentralize the work of analytics and data-driven decision-making has been the biggest benefit for us.”

By opening up database access and usability to more employees, Noon.com has given more autonomy to individual teams, such as those in charge of payments or logistics. Instead of decision-making bottlenecks that can happen when approvals need to go through a centralized team that may not be specialized in payments or logistics, using BigQuery and Cloud SQL allows Noon.com to give individual teams ownership of the data that affects their work.

As a fully managed service that automates management tasks such as database provisioning and storage capacity, the combination of Cloud SQL and BigQuery also helps to further reduce maintenance costs.

Meanwhile, Recommendations AI helps Noon.com to harness the data resulting from user requests on its platform to ensure that customers can find what they need even faster, drawing on machine learning to deliver personalized recommendations that suit each customer’s tastes and preferences. “We’re always looking to improve our customer experience, and Recommendations AI is helping us a lot with that. There’s no need to preprocess data, train or hypertune machine learning models, or manually provision our infrastructure to handle unpredictable traffic spikes. The service automates all of that for us,” Karthick explains.

Noon.com also wants to ensure that users don’t experience any delays when browsing the platform, no matter where they are visiting from. For that, the company uses Cloud Spanner, a fully managed relational database with unlimited scale, strong consistency, and up to 99.999% availability.

“Google Cloud-managed services are playing a major role in enabling Noon.com customers to get their shopping done whenever they need it, without experiencing any delays or glitches, and without us having to lose sleep at night to ensure our platform is functioning as it should.”

Alex Nadalin, SVP of Engineering, Noon.com

Supporting shoppers and local businesses with a platform that is always available

For Noon.com, this is just the beginning. The company plans to continue empowering the local and regional ecommerce ecosystem with services that are always available, relevant to users, and easy to access. To that end, Noon.com foresees a long-term collaboration with Google Cloud. “Google Cloud-managed services are playing a major role in enabling Noon.com customers to get their shopping done whenever they need it, without experiencing any delays or glitches, and without us having to lose sleep at night to ensure our platform is functioning as it should,” says Alex, referencing his team of engineers.

“Google Cloud makes our life simple, in a cost-effective way, and is always available to support us and ensure that we have the best tools to succeed,” says Karthick. “That’s why I see this partnership thriving for years to come.”

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

Contact us

About Noon.com

Headquartered in Riyadh, KSA, Noon.com is a homegrown ecommerce marketplace that caters to the Middle East and plans to become the number one online retailer in the region, supporting a dynamic digital economy for both consumers and local businesses.

Industries: Retail & Consumer Goods
Location: KSA, UAE, Egypt