Timing, Technology, and Staying in Touch with Your Customer

BrandPost By Rick Price, SAP Contributor
Sep 19, 20224 mins
Digital Transformation

Global retailer Carrefour took a huge step into the future by moving from their old, on-premise Enterprise Resource Planning system to SAP S/4HANA in the cloud – reducing costs and improving operations, and completing the move in just three months.

You don’t have to be in the retail to know what a big deal Black Friday is. The promotions for sales the day after the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday are everywhere, from billboards to online. The Balance, a personal finance content website points out that Black Friday is one of the biggest and most profitable retail days of the year. 

And the phenomenon extends far beyond the U.S.: Bustle.com reports that nearly 20 different countries have Black Friday sales of their own. But what if a retail company faced the prospect of its core digital systems being down during this pivotal four days?

Building on a solid foundation

And that brings us to Carrefour – a French group and a leading global retailer. Carrefour has been a pioneer in the large food retail business for 60 years. The company reaches more than 100 million households a year and gets over a million single visits to all of its online shopping websites every day.

That’s impressive, right? But the leaders of Carrefour’s Brazil unit were concerned that their old Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system would not be able to keep up with the demands of a post-pandemic world. It was time to take their technology to the next level – a new ERP in the cloud, that would be able to move more quickly and at the same time. Plus, save a great deal of money.

For whom the clock ticks

As they confronted this reality, the people at Carrefour were hearing the loud sound of a clock ticking. Black Friday was just a few months away. “If there was any delay in the delivery of the project, the current data center would have to be shut down. In other words, the company would increase its costs for demand in November, when Black Friday takes place,” said Paulo Henrique Farroco, the CIO of Carrefour Brasil. At that point, they had a little over three months to get it done.

The power of partnership

Carrefour chose SAP S/4HANA as the only system that would cover their entire process from origination, risk management, and logistics through back-office processes like finance, accounting, and tax to operational processes. And they picked partner Mignow for the project because it was the most innovative option, where all the steps of their data migration could happen automatically, through software. Using artificial intelligence tools, it understands the database, diagnoses the project, automates the conversion steps, and performs automatic updates.

Hitting the mark

With all the pieces of the plan in place, Carrefour completed the migration to a new data center and connectivity services structure in just three months. The highly complex project included migrating from the old on-premise system to a Cloud Software-as-a-Service environment – updating the integration architecture using new middleware, and installing the very latest version of the new ERP.  It was a major step into the future, and just as important, everything was ready well before Black Friday.

Adding it all up

Carrefour is already seeing the benefits from the project. It’s reducing operating costs by 40%. The migration opens up the possibility for stores to predict whether the quantity of products ordered will increase or decrease, being ready for whatever their customers need. With more robust and faster analysis of sales orders, they’re predicting an increase in profitability.

Carrefour is even reducing energy consumption by 45% by moving from on-premise data centers to the cloud. The project minimized service disruption for shoppers and employees with seamless migration across on-premises apps. And Carrefour’s Paulo Farroco adds, “As we continue to implement best practices and adapt our operations to the cloud, we’ll be able to reduce our costs even further into the future.”

This project earned Carrefour a winner’s position at the 2022 SAP Innovation Awards, honoring organizations that have used SAP products, services, solutions, and offerings to benefit both business and society. You can read the details behind Carrefour’s accomplishment in their Innovation Awards Pitch Deck.