Retail 2020: The Digital Groundswell

OpsRamp customer BJ’s Wholesale Club is enhancing and reshaping how its customers buy essential goods during a year like no other.

When it comes to consumer goods, the year 2020 has been all about essentials. Consumers have stocked up on groceries and household supplies such as toilet paper and cleaning products, fitness wear for working comfortably from home and of course electronics, to stay connected. Companies that were able to efficiently transition 100% to digital channels to serve consumer needs during the pandemic have prevailed.

One such consumer goods leader is BJ’s Wholesale Club, a $12 billion company which operates 219 membership warehouse clubs and 149 gas stations in the Eastern United States. The company has performed strongly against competitors in 2020, completing a robust second quarter in which club sales were up 24% over 2019, and digitally-enabled sales grew by 300%. Results for Q3 were also strong, with club sales up 18.5% and digital sales up 200%.

Building a sound foundation for digital sales success

BJ’s ability to ramp up its same-day delivery, buy online, pick up in-club and curbside pickup services for essential groceries and products is intrinsic to the company’s strategic priorities. Motley Fool reported: “BJ's digital platform was responsible for a large portion of its growth this quarter and tripled in size year over year.”

Digital Retail Trends for 2021

Despite a shaky economy, the National Retail Federation predicts a robust holiday shopping season, growing between 3.6% and 5.2% year over year, and valued between $755.3 billion and $766.7 billion.  Success into 2021, however, will depend upon strategic investment in new technologies to be more efficient, proactive and responsive to business and customer needs.

Artificial intelligence for IT operations (AIOps) technologies are helping organizations in all industries bring intelligent automation to routine processes such as patch management and server reboots, issue identification and resolution, and infrastructure optimization for cost and performance.

In this Forbes article, digital business thought leader Bernard Marr discusses these trends as influential for the retail sector in 2021:

  • AI technologies for inventory management, marketing research and sales;
  • Autonomous (and contactless) deliveries through drones and self-driving vehicle;
  • Social media and entertainment-driven sales channels, and;
  • Super-charged personalization.

“We’ve made significant progress rolling out new digital services, and we have approached new models cautiously and the well-being of our team members, members and communities is always our top priority,” said Bhaskar Rao, Sr. Director of IT and Cloud Engineering.

As part of BJ’s digital services innovation, the company decided to replace its legacy monitoring systems with a modern digital operations management platform to ensure high quality, reliability and performance of its IT infrastructure. Part of the push was the fact that the company had been expanding its cloud infrastructure, with growing investments across the three major public clouds: AWS, Google Cloud and Azure. The legacy system in place couldn’t effectively monitor cloud and cloud-native assets.

As well, a proliferation of point tools was slowing things down at a time when agility was becoming paramount, says Rao: “We had been using traditional monitoring tools, where there were multiple products strung together. We needed to learn all the different components of each tool to use it, which was not an efficient use of our team’s resources. We wanted a modern, holistic solution to make this easier and more cost effective. We also wanted to achieve the benefits of a single pane of glass.”

OpsRamp for simplifying and centralizing hybrid IT monitoring

OpsRamp satisfied two major use cases at BJ’s: hybrid IT and synthetic monitoring and proactive event management through AIOps. Ultimately, IT wished to enhance its ability to be an agile service provider for all the company’s lines of business. In a survey of IT operations directors and managers that OpsRamp conducted this fall, business-IT alignment was one of the top three challenges cited by participants. The ability of Infrastructure & Operations leaders to deliver and show business value from their investments has become a fundamental part of the job.

Key benefits of OpsRamp at BJ’s

  • Single pane of glass for comprehensive infrastructure visibility.
  • Flexible, role-based dashboards.
  • Alert correlation to reduce noise and speed root cause identification.

BJ’s IT command center has realized several benefits from OpsRamp so far, allowing teams to be more proactive and efficient in maintaining the performance of core business services. Being the first to know about a problem is one of the major advantages Rao cites from OpsRamp, allowing the organization to “continue supporting team members and members with high-quality digital tools and services on a daily basis.” Read the case study here for the full story.

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