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How one ecommerce leader supports 3x growth with Google Cloud

Giglio traces its roots back to the 1960s, when its founder Michele Giglio took the family fabric business in a new direction with a fashion retail boutique. Since 2008, the company has grown consistently and in 2014, it launched its own ecommerce platform on Giglio.com. The goal: bring the vitality of Mediterranean style to shoppers far beyond Italy’s borders.

“We are located in the center of the Mediterranean in Palermo and our motto is ‘proudly made in Mediterraneo,” says Francesco Sabatucci, Chief Marketing Officer at Giglio.com. “We work with 200 physical boutiques where we sell multiple brands. We have also unlocked the global market for our peers through our online marketplace Giglio.com.”

After increased customer demand caused scaling issues in its legacy on-prem environment, Giglio chose to work with Google Cloud and partner Cloudmind to migrate its infrastructure to the cloud in 2018. 

Laying the foundation for digital retail success

Giglio started to experience 40% year-over-year growth in eCommerce back in 2016. Its product catalog expanded threefold, straining its legacy infrastructure and making it too costly and unwieldy to manage efficiently. In addition to scalability issues, the company struggled to keep pace with changing customer expectations for more modern, responsive digital services.

“We had two revelations. We first realized we would need to move away from a monolithic architecture and to microservices. And second we needed to shift completely from on-prem to the cloud,” says Marco Claudino, Chief Operating Officer at Giglio.com. “We trusted the Google brand and the company’s investment in Google Cloud, so we chose to go all in.”

Giglio had already worked with partner Cloudmind to help deploy and manage Google Workspace and knew it would be the right companion on its digital transformation journey.

“Google Cloud is constantly innovating and offering new solutions,” says Marco. “Cloudmind has been a terrific advisor thanks to their deep knowledge of everything Google Cloud offers. They consistently make the right recommendations not only about which products to consider but also the ways to get the most value from every Google Cloud solution.”

Cloudmind also provided Giglio with system integration and DevOps resources and continues to support the Giglio team with Google Cloud training. The trust Giglio had in Cloudmind and Google Cloud made the company confident about using Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE) to act as the backbone of its newly minted microservices infrastructure.

Modern tools to support a DevOps mindset

Giglio has had DevOps in its DNA since the 1990s. As time and technology progressed, the company became more focused on continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) pipelines to fuel both its internal processes and customer-facing platforms. GKE proved to be the right choice for the company and remains central to its corporate strategy today.

“We manage eight products in total, ranging from our digital marketplace to logistics, customer service, marketing automation, invoicing, and more,” says Marco. “GKE and other Google Cloud solutions have helped us to automate more of the CI/CD pipeline, improving our DevOps performance and making it easier to innovate and manage technologies closest to customer experiences.”

This advantage has been especially important given the seasonality of the Italian fashion industry. Whereas high-traffic months like November used to cause disruption and strain infrastructure, simplified provisioning and auto-scaling removes roadblocks and keeps the company functioning consistently regardless of peaks and valleys in demand.

Further, compared to its legacy on-prem infrastructure, GKE allows for more efficient, on-demand scaling to optimize managing IT spend. In addition to standardizing on GKE, Compute Engine, Google Cloud Storage, Container Registry, and App Engine round out the company’s more agile cloud infrastructure.

“Now, when we experience 40% annual growth we do not automatically have to spend 40% or more on technology,” adds Marco. “Instead, our IT infrastructure costs are stable while our business growth accelerates.”

Better data management, stronger sales

Giglio’s legacy IT also presented data challenges, with siloed data preventing cross-department collaboration and hindering decision making. Giglio chose to work with Cloudmind to stand up BigQuery as a central repository of information from all data sources.

“As an ecommerce business, we have a lot of data that sprawls across product logistics, sales, marketing, and other areas,” says Francesco. “BigQuery has been a big win for us on several levels by enabling us to move away from siloed data stores to a unified environment offering a single source of truth. It also integrates easily with the open source tools we like to use for more advanced analytics.”

With BigQuery, Giglio can merge data sources for data modeling, normalization, and authentication. While Giglio has long relied upon Data Studio for business analytics, it is now migrating to Looker to enhance data-driven decision making companywide.

“In the past, teams like sales, DevOps, and marketing didn’t have easy ways to share details about upcoming promotions and discounts,” says Marco. “With better analytics and centralized data, DevOps and other teams now work more cohesively. This means smoother logistics across the business, which leads to better customer experiences and higher sales.”

With its focus on stronger data management and analytics, Giglio can unlock insights to work more smoothly with partners, suppliers, and others to manage inventory, sales, and marketing.

Giglio also uses Google Cloud Marketplace to identify other third-party technologies to augment its IT capabilities. For example, the company uses partner Elastic’s Elasticsearch tool as well as the open-source version of MongoDB for further enterprise search and relational database needs.

Giglio is currently experimenting with Vertex AI for more advanced machine learning and tacking on out-of-the-box solutions such as Recommendation AI and the Retail API to improve customer experiences online.

Reaching more global audiences with Italian fashions

All of these changes better position Giglio to serve more customers worldwide. While the company operates mostly in Europe, it plans to leverage modern cloud solutions and its own DevOps expertise to expand into North America and Asia.

Google Cloud and other Google solutions will continue to play a vital role in the company’s growth. 

“We use Google Workspace, Google Cloud, Google Ads, YouTube, ChromeOS—virtually everything Google offers. We’re either using the solutions today or have them on our roadmap given how much success we have had using Google apps and services,” says Francesco. “Since switching to microservices and transforming with Google, we have tripled our sales without large increases in operating costs. Our infrastructure and ambitions are aligned thanks to Google and Cloudmind.”

Adds Antonio Petrullo, Account Executive at Google Cloud, “Giglio is a special company. All of these IT improvements enable it to support the people it cares most about—its customers, the young fashion entrepreneurs in Southern Italy, and all the other untapped talent living here who have the creativity but need an avenue to succeed. Giglio is an inspiring company.”

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