Packlink: Delivering business intelligence with Google Cloud Platform

About Packlink

Packlink is a disruptive online shipping comparison and booking service that helps users compare and purchase domestic and international package delivery services. The company offers individuals and businesses a fast and easy way to book parcel deliveries with the world's top couriers at discounted prices.

Industries: Other
Location: Spain

Packlink transforms its business intelligence capabilities and gains valuable insights on all areas of its shipping business by migrating to Google Cloud Platform and utilizing BigQuery.

Google Cloud Results

  • Reduces running costs by $5K a month by migrating to Google Cloud Platform and using BigQuery
  • Saves 100 hours and 20% in costs with automatic auditing of billing data
  • Eliminates major failures, helps bring downtime to zero, and saves about 35% in costs with Google Cloud Platform environment

Improves query time by 97% with BigQuery

Whether for business or personal use, customers expect speed and simplicity when booking courier services online. Packlink is delivering on these expectations by giving individuals and business customers a fast and easy way to ship. The company is disrupting online shipping with its comparison and booking platform for international package delivery services by offering discounted pricing on parcel delivery by the world's top couriers. Currently, Packlink is the only service of its kind with a presence in multiple countries, including Spain, Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom, and France, and has plans to expand across Europe.

"There are a lot of moving parts that work amazingly fast. We were amazed to see how eight or nine Google Cloud tools work together to do everything we were doing before in one tenth of the time."

Eduardo Gulias, CTO, Packlink

When Packlink realized that it had outgrown its existing cloud provider, it saw an opportunity to migrate to a provider that could offer more and better integrated business intelligence solutions in addition to the enhanced cloud services it required. The company's former provider didn't offer an API to enable automation, which meant that Packlink had to manually handle more than 200 virtual servers and upload large data files in order to utilize its separate BI package. The ETL process took 14 hours to load data, 10 hours to transform it, and then 4 hours to run reports. Packlink wanted to automate environment creation using infrastructure as code techniques to, amongt other benefits, unlock the possibility of automating the ETL process in a cloud native BI product. This became the key driver behind Packlink's choice of cloud provider.

Packlink decided to migrate its infrastructure to Google Cloud Platform (GCP) in a year-long project during which the team recreated their environment from the ground up using GCP products. Working with Google Cloud experts, the Packlink team saw firsthand how GCP products work together to streamline and reduce manual processes, deliver savings on infrastructure, and even help identify new opportunities.

Eduardo Gulias, Packlink's CTO says: "There are a lot of moving parts that work amazingly fast. We were amazed to see how eight or nine Google Cloud tools work together to do everything we were doing before in one tenth of the time."

Picking a winning strategy with Google Cloud Platform

Google Cloud was a strategic choice for Packlink, who wanted to be able to unlock the API potential that GCP offers in order to leverage its advanced business intelligence capabilities. Another key decision driver was Compute Engine, which quickly proved itself to be more economical than the company's former solution, while delivering greatly increased services. The team also saw additional opportunities to improve its product that would be enabled by the new GCP infrastructure.

"Our previous feedback loop was extensive, but it wasn't efficient," says Bhavani Priyadarshini J, Senior BI Manager at Packlink. "The turnaround was quite long, with each adjustment taking an hour and results only being available a day later. This affected critical departments like Finance, in addition to the BI team."

"Before, we were experiencing major failures 40 percent of the time. Our BI team was spending half their time fixing problems and was more than 10 percent over budget. After three months on Google Cloud Platform we haven't seen a single failure email and our costs are down. That's amazing."

Bhavani Priyadarshini J, Senior BI Manager, Packlink

Packlink was also drawn to the capability of GCP to replicate production at any point in time with the push of a button. This allows developers to make adjustments at the station level and send them immediately into production, without the drawn-out process of creating a new server. In addition to streamlining the network environment, the migration to GCP has resulted in savings of about 35 percent per month, with 81 percent saved on BI alone.

Integrating systems to save time and money

In such a data-intensive business as shipping, BI becomes a critical tool for monitoring operations and making strategic business decisions. By switching to BigQuery, Packlink can now navigate information from systems such as CRM, CS, and ERP in a very effective and efficient way, while Cloud Dataflow facilitates the movement of data through the various systems. These integrations have led to considerable savings of time and money and dramatically reduced failure rates.

"Before, we were experiencing major failures 40 percent of the time. Our BI team was spending half their time fixing problems and was more than 10 percent over budget. After three months on Google Cloud Platform we haven't seen a single failure email and our costs are down. That's amazing," says Eduardo.

A completely automated process with Google BigQuery

One of the biggest internal customers for BI at Packlink is the finance department. They were used to waiting an hour to run queries before the migration, but have cut that time by 97 percent to two minutes with BigQuery. This success has spurred several other BI projects inside the company that are helping Packlink streamline operations.

With more than 300 different shipping services on offer through 28 partner companies, maintaining accuracy in billing is key to Packlink's bottom line. Couriers can make invoicing mistakes, while customers can also get parcel weights and shipping times wrong when booking shipments in a hurry. This meant that the company was spending a lot of time manually going line by line through invoices to check for errors. With Cloud Dataproc and BigQuery, this process is completely automated, saving 20 percent in costs and 100 hours a month of work.

"We're really happy with BigQuery. Retrieving information now happens in near real time and there are no failures. Instead of organizing our week around daylong downtimes, we're consistently getting information back in a matter of seconds."

Eduardo Gulias, CTO, Packlink

Packlink has its next big BI initiative already underway, a carrier-service-level control project, which will help the company understand and measure its partners better, give them feedback, and work with them to improve where necessary. Using BigQuery, tracking information will be gathered and normalized to account for differences in how each company defines their tracking data points.

"We have 28 carriers and between them we might have hundreds of different definitions for 'delivered'. We normalize the data so that all of these definitions flow to one single 'delivered' data point, and that gives us the ability to measure performance across all 28 partners," explains Eduardo.

Better insight into on-time deliveries, delay rates, damages, and customer service will open up a lot of opportunities for Packlink to improve customer experience. The BI team is already planning another project, on pricing strategies such as automated pricing, which shows the wide-reaching impact that GCP and BigQuery are having throughout the company.

"We're really happy with BigQuery. Retrieving information now happens in near real time and there are no failures. Instead of organizing our week around daylong downtimes, we're consistently getting information back in a matter of seconds," says Eduardo.

Meeting the future head-on

Packlink is looking towards 2020, when the European Union will require customs documents to be sent electronically for all shipments. Harnessing the power of GCP, the company expects to be able to simplify electronic submission for its customers, further delivering on the company's promise of simple, fast, and economical international shipping for everyone who buys and sells online.

About Packlink

Packlink is a disruptive online shipping comparison and booking service that helps users compare and purchase domestic and international package delivery services. The company offers individuals and businesses a fast and easy way to book parcel deliveries with the world's top couriers at discounted prices.

Industries: Other
Location: Spain