Kingfisher signs 5-year contract with Google Cloud

Kingfisher, a home improvement retailer with 1,500 stores in Europe, has agreed a five-year tech contract with Google Cloud to provide faster and more intuitive searches, and better tailor product ranges to customers.
Google Cloud businessKingfisher, which owns DIY brands B&Q and Castorama, and trade-focused Screwfix and TradePoint, increased online sales during the pandemic when stores were closed and customers spent more on home improvements. Kingfisher said e-commerce sales were up 138 percent over three years in its third quarter. Kingfisher reported total sales of £3.3 billion (+1.7 percent) in Q3 2022.

Google Cloud’s infrastructure, platform services, and artificial intelligence (AI) solutions will ensure that  Kingfisher, its retail brands and customers will see a host of benefits. These include greater website uptime, better forecasting, more seamless customer-centric experiences, improved personalisation, and world-class engineering support from Google Cloud.

Kingfisher chief digital and technology officer JJ Van Oosten said the company felt it needed to accelerate its digital focus, and the move to the cloud was key.

“It will give us more freedom, more speed and allow us to get much closer to our customers, particularly in data.”

Kingfisher, a long-time user of SAP software, had started moving its legacy data to Google Cloud, where it could be used to test new online concepts and improve the efficiency of deliveries such as its less-than-one-hour Screwfix ‘Sprint’ service.

The partnership with Google Cloud would also help B&Q expand its marketplace, launched earlier this year to allow third-parties to offer products in wallpaper, lighting, power tools and small domestic appliances.

Improved search, underpinned by Google’s machine learning, would enable customers to navigate an online range that could increase to as much as 4 million in the coming years from around 300,000 today, he said.

Google Cloud Chief Executive Thomas Kurian said its technology was helping customers identify product using image search, or by answering questions posed in imprecise terms. “We have a lot of history in search of making inexact queries work really well,” he said.

Kingfisher already has significant digital innovation plans underway. Projects for this new partnership will include replatforming the Screwfix e-commerce site to make it one-hundred times faster, which will enhance its ability to deliver on the fastest non-food delivery service worldwide. Meanwhile, the B&Q brand will now be able to scale up from 300,000 products online to more than four million in the coming years, thanks to the growth of its online marketplace.

In addition, Kingfisher plans to create a real-time order system that will improve stock accuracy, and deploy visual search using Google Cloud AI tools to help customers discover the product replacements that most closely match their needs.