Valora: Building a unified sales platform with Google Cloud Platform

About Valora

Established in 1908, Valora operates more than 2,800 small-scale convenience and food-service stores in locations with high consumer footfall in several European countries, serving over a million customers every day.

Industries: Retail
Location: Switzerland

About Wabion

At home in Germany, Switzerland, and Austria, Wabion is a leading Google Premier Partner, enabling digital transformation for clients around the globe.

With Google Cloud Platform and G Suite, Valora and partner Wabion built a scalable, customized platform to handle and standardize sales communication and collaboration across thousands of retail outlets.

Google Cloud Results

  • Provides structure and standardized procedure to point of sales operations
  • Minimizes disruption by deploying as a web-based platform, avoiding the need to update hardware or operating systems
  • Resource-efficient rollout without individual training of the point of sales, based on optimized usability
  • Reduces IT operating costs with cloud-based infrastructure

Consolidates 7 siloed apps into a single, harmonized platform

Valora has grown into a leading European convenience and food-service group, with around 2,800 outlets at high-frequency locations under 9 different strategic brands, mainly in its native Switzerland, as well as Germany, Austria, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands.

In addition to its retail business, Valora has continued to thrive by focusing on the production and sales of pretzel products. In 2016, after Valora had completed a major acquisition in Switzerland the year before, the company wanted to improve the collaboration between its headquarters and the various formats by creating a single communication platform for its points of sale (POS). To do that, it turned to Google Cloud Platform (GCP) and G Suite.

“We were using seven different communication and collaboration applications for our sales operations, so people were working in silos and not coordinating well. We wanted Google to help us create a more interoperable platform for the future and break up those silos.”

Roberto Fedele, CIO, Valora

“We were using seven different communication and collaboration applications for our sales operations, so people were working in silos and not coordinating well, ” says Roberto Fedele, CIO at Valora. “We wanted Google to help us create a more interoperable platform for the future and break up those silos.”

Valora has enjoyed continued success in recent years with organic growth and a number of smart acquisitions, which gave the company a strong retail presence across Europe. The company’s rapid expansion and acquisition strategy has, however, meant that there is no single, standard way of coordinating the thousands of outlets it controls. “There was no single process or procedure for communication, so we had too many emails to deal with and things would get lost,” says Roberto.

Custom, structured communications

By 2016, having just completed a major acquisition the year before and further expansion not far off, Valora knew that it had to find a way to harmonize its sales communication across its outlets. Valora wanted a system that could work in any of its POS, scale along with the company’s planned expansion, and simplify the sales process for the thousands of people working in its network.

Valora put out a request for proposal for its new system and spent six months evaluating its options. The company chose Google Cloud Platform and cloud specialist Wabion to build its solution because of the strength of their engagement. “We felt a great commitment from Google and Wabion,” says Roberto. “They outlined a very professional proposal during the evaluation.” Wabion, a Google Cloud Premier Partner, held detailed discussions with Valora’s IT team about what the challenges and desired outcomes were, and in late 2016 began building a web-based application called VAPOS.

“When you create a customized web app for a customer, there’s normally a lot of cost in scaling it and maintaining it. Firebase operates as a backend service layer, so you only have to focus on the customer’s needs. Everything below that level is managed and maintained by Google.” Michael Gomez, Managing Director, Wabion Switzerland

Customized for Valora’s specific needs with Firebase, VAPOS handles all the POS processes communication, from quality assessment to granular marketing and sales analytics. The key to VAPOS lies with its structured communication system. Using a restricted version of Gmail, each communication is given a template according to its function, helping ensure that the right information reaches the right people from the right channels.

In addition, the platform uses Google Drive to help secure and store files, and Google My Account to keep track of the users’ access rights. Using Firebase meant that VAPOS could take advantage of powerful GCP functions, such as messaging or database management, and still remain easy to scale.

Benefits for retail stores

“When you create a customized web app for a customer, there’s normally a lot of cost in scaling it and maintaining it,” says Michael Gomez, Managing Director at Wabion Switzerland. “Firebase operates as a backend service layer, so you only have to focus on the customer’s needs. Everything below that level is managed and maintained by Google.”

VAPOS has provided Valora with a customized sales platform that brings the company’s brands closer together and improves overall performance. What used to require seven applications has been streamlined into a single platform, easy to learn and simple to use. By developing VAPOS as a web-based platform, Valora helps ensure that its different outlets can use it without disruptive changes to their infrastructures. “Technologically, it’s plug and play,” says Roberto. “For the people in the stores and headquarters, though, it brings real benefits and change. It structures the way we communicate and collaborate.”

“VAPOS is a leaner and more focused platform than we’ve ever had. It makes the entire sales communication process more efficient and more effective. The key for us was to get not just the right product or solution, but to also establish a winning and sustainable partnership with Wabion and Google.”

Roberto Fedele, CIO, Valora

In order to reach these goals, the project team of business and IT representatives has conducted several sprints. During the project, the VAPOS structure and processes have been continuously fine-tuned and optimized using an agile approach. By doing so, the team helps ensure effective change management and a seamless implementation at the POS without high levels of training.

Meanwhile, with GCP, Valora can scale VAPOS up or down as needed, reducing the need for upfront hardware costs and keeping maintenance costs far lower than before. With the first phase of VAPOS’ rollout complete, Valora has introduced the platform to 1,100 of its Swiss retail outlets. The next step is to monitor VAPOS’ performance and expand its rollout to the company’s international outlets. As Valora continues to evolve, it can look to Wabion and Google to help it meet whatever challenges it may see in the future.

“VAPOS is a leaner and more focused platform than we’ve ever had. It makes the entire sales communication process more efficient and more effective,” says Roberto. “The key for us was to get not just the right product or solution, but to also establish a winning and sustainable partnership with Wabion and Google."

About Valora

Established in 1908, Valora operates more than 2,800 small-scale convenience and food-service stores in locations with high consumer footfall in several European countries, serving over a million customers every day.

Industries: Retail
Location: Switzerland

About Wabion

At home in Germany, Switzerland, and Austria, Wabion is a leading Google Premier Partner, enabling digital transformation for clients around the globe.

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