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UntieNots: Gamifying loyalty with personalized engagement challenges, powered by Google Cloud

About UntieNots

UntieNots uses AI to make loyalty promotions scalable, relevant, and fun. With the UntieNots solution, retailers can delight their customers with personalized loyalty challenges, encouraging them to win discounts for their favorite brands. To gain perks, customers need to spend first, making UntieNots a win-win for retailers and their customers.

Industries: Technology
Location: France

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UntieNots reinvents loyalty programs for retailers globally, using Google Kubernetes Engine to synchronize processes and data across the organization, and deploy them instantly around the world.

Google Cloud results

  • Facilitates global expansion by enabling instant deployments around the world with Google Kubernetes Engine
  • Saves time and optimizes cloud spend by scaling with each customer automatically, without having to provision new machines manually
  • Simplifies compliance with data security demands of large retail clients by enabling isolated Google Cloud environments for each client
  • Ensures exact payments by processing transactions with high reliability and dealing with big data at the most granular level

Processes €150B of transactions at any given moment

How can you make customers come back, again and again? Some answers are obvious: high quality, low prices, excellent service. But all other things being equal, shoppers might give an edge to retailers that offer the most perks. With loyalty programs, businesses can gamify the shopping experience, gaining customer loyalty by rewarding them with discounts for continued engagement.

But while more than 90% of companies employ some kind of loyalty or customer engagement program, they’re often unsure what they get in return. According to research by Accenture, loyalty programs don’t reliably create loyal customers, with 71% of respondents claiming that “loyalty programs do not engender loyalty.”

Not enough to sway customers, these programs are nevertheless quite the investment. “If you spend €1 per customer per month on a loyalty scheme, that’s just not enough to make a big difference in their shopping habits, but if you have 10 million customers, that’s already €120M at the end of the year,” explains Zyed Jamoussi, co-founder and President at UntieNots. “We wanted to create a loyalty platform that’s profitable by design. That’s why we founded UntieNots.”

“We need to keep a balance between stability, scalability, and customer focus, and handle large volumes of data without significant capital expenditure. Searching for a platform that could handle significant data volumes and scale easily with the retailers we work with, we chose Google Cloud.”

Zyed Jamoussi, co-founder and President, UntieNots

Balancing scalability and customer focus

With UntieNots, retailers can build loyalty programs that are 100% personalized. In loyalty challenges, shoppers get rewarded specifically for buying more of their favorite brands or categories, winning discounts and cashback tailored to their shopping preferences. In smartphone apps, they can keep track of their challenges, to know exactly what they need to do to score further perks.

To generate the most relevant offers for each customer, UntieNots needs to process large volumes of data that are analyzed with machine learning (ML) algorithms. Because UntieNots works with some of the world’s largest retailers, such as Carrefour, effortless scalability with its customers is crucial as well.

“We need to keep a balance between stability, scalability, and customer focus and handle large volumes of data without investing in hardware,” says Zyed. “Searching for a platform that could handle significant data volumes and scale easily with the retailers we work with, we chose Google Cloud.”

With Google Cloud, UntieNots has built a flexible microservices infrastructure, deploying all front ends and back ends of its solution on Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE). Cloud Storage serves as a data lake to store customer data and all other data collected by the platform, while Dataproc makes it easy to run Spark clusters to process this data.

Managing billions, accounting for every cent

At the heart of UntieNots’ loyalty engine are the company’s algorithms and TensorFlow ML models, which are trained with Google Cloud AI Platform Training, part of AI Hub. With this data, retail clients can deliver personalized loyalty challenges to every single one of their customers, synchronize these offers across different devices, and even handle customer requests via a customer service interface. Google Kubernetes Engine is the glue that holds all these processes together.

“With Google Kubernetes Engine, we’ve been able to create a single, reliable pipeline to synchronize all our processes, which are spread across many different environments,” explains Zyed. “This means that our algorithm can do its work, producing results for each client and their customers that are 100% reliable.”

Reliability is crucial for UntieNots, because the solution handles more than €150 billion worth of transactions at any given moment. When predictions are made at the most granular level, taking into account every single transaction, even small inconsistencies can have business-critical impacts. “Our transactions impact millions of households, and we can’t afford to be off even by a single cent,” says Zyed. “Google Cloud enables us to deal with big data at the most granular level, while remaining completely accurate.”

Ticking every box for even the largest retailers

To meet the data security demands of their clients, the UntieNots team needs to provide a separate Google Cloud environment for each retailer, rather than a single shared cluster for all operations. “We’re working with some of the largest retailers in the world, who are rightfully very protective of their data,” explains Cédric Faucheux, Head of Data Science at UntieNots. “Google Cloud enables us to duplicate our solution and create a separate project for each retailer, and then work efficiently across these different environments by automating deployments with Google Kubernetes Engine.”

Every loyalty program is different, and UntieNots can leverage its flexible GKE environments to tailor each solution to the unique demands of each retailer. “We can use different configurations in each environment, which makes our solution more flexible and allows us to adapt the UntieNots loyalty experience to the specific needs of our clients,” explains Cédric. “For instance, we make challenges at the level they want: card account or household or else adapt the solution to the data format they are handling. All B2C front ends are fully customizable according to their needs and desires.”

“Google Kubernetes Engine enables us to automatically scale with the size of each client, ensuring smooth operations for all our retailers while optimizing our spend on cloud architecture. Because we don’t have to worry about provisioning new machines, we’re also saving time, which we can focus on improving our solution and adding new features.”

Cédric Faucheux, Lead Data Scientist, UntieNots

Scaling with each customer, anywhere in the world

More than 50% of the French grocery retail market already uses UntieNots to increase customer engagement and revenues, but the company continues to grow. Initially, GKE clusters were only in Europe, but over the past years, UntieNots has expanded its services around the world, including the US, Belgium, Finland, and will soon be adding more locations in Asia. But the core team remains based in France.

“Google Cloud enables us to do business anywhere and offer the best possible service to clients around the world,” says Zyed. “From our offices in Paris, we can deploy our solution instantly, wherever we want.”

While UntieNots works with some of the world’s biggest retailers, the solution is just as viable for smaller companies. Some retail clients have yearly revenues of €300 million, others tens of billions. That’s why for Zyed and his team, scaling isn’t just about size, but finding the perfect computational capabilities for each client.

“Google Kubernetes Engine enables us to automatically scale with the size of each client, ensuring smooth operations for all our retailers while optimizing our spend on cloud architecture,” says Cédric. “Because we don’t have to worry about provisioning new machines, we’re also saving time, which we can focus on improving our solution and adding new features.”

“What our clients love about our solution is that it’s fully integrated. With Google Cloud, we’ve been able to build a platform around our algorithms that’s fast, reliable, and fully synchronized in one single environment. Now we’re ready to bring UntieNots to even more retailers around the world.”

Zyed Jamoussi, co-founder and President, UntieNots

Discovering more ways to reward loyalty

In 2020, UntieNots launched version 2.0 of its platform, rewarding loyal customers with even more exciting opportunities. Instead of just offering cashbacks or discounts, retailers will soon be able to give their customers the opportunity to use the credits they’ve earned for other purposes, such as charity or dedicated services. Collectibles, a digital version of the “connect enough stickers” game, incentivizes customers with additional gamification.

And that’s just out of the box: if retailers want to adapt the solution to more specific business cases, UntieNots can act faster than ever before. “In the past, if clients asked us to develop a specific challenge for their customers, it would take us about a month to deliver, “ says Cédric. “Now, we can adapt our solution with custom challenges in a week, offering our clients more flexibility.”

To find ever more ways of rewarding loyalty, the UntieNots team plans to use more Google Cloud solutions in the future. Next, the team is considering moving data into BigQuery, and making it more available to non-technical staff across the business with tools such as Looker, enabling business analytics.

As specialists of customer loyalty, the team at UntieNots knows firsthand the hard work that goes into making sure that customers come back, again and again. On every step of the way, Google Cloud makes this task a little bit easier. “What our clients love about our solution is that it’s fully integrated,” says Zyed. “With Google Cloud, we’ve been able to build a platform around our algorithms that’s fast, reliable, and fully synchronized in one single environment. Now we’re ready to bring UntieNots to even more retailers around the world.”

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

Contact us

About UntieNots

UntieNots uses AI to make loyalty promotions scalable, relevant, and fun. With the UntieNots solution, retailers can delight their customers with personalized loyalty challenges, encouraging them to win discounts for their favorite brands. To gain perks, customers need to spend first, making UntieNots a win-win for retailers and their customers.

Industries: Technology
Location: France