To fulfill customer needs quickly and conveniently during the COVID-19 pandemic, Petco successfully completed the development of a curbside pickup service and deployed it in just 6 weeks. Thanks to a partnership in which it worked alongside AWS Retail Competency Partner JBS Solutions (JBS), Petco’s new offering, built using AWS Lambda and Amazon DynamoDB, improved efficiency and reduced costs.
Meeting Rapidly Changing Needs
To fulfill customer needs in real time throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, including contact-free shopping, Petco contacted software consultancy and Amazon Web Services (AWS) Retail Competency Partner JBS. With the help of JBS, Petco successfully completed the development of a curbside pickup solution built on AWS in just 6 weeks and on budget, making it possible for the health and wellness company for pets to continue meeting the needs of pet parents nationwide.
Petco operates more than 1,500 locations across the United States, Mexico, and Puerto Rico, including a growing network of more than 150 in-store veterinary hospitals, and offers a complete online resource for pet health and wellness on its website and on the Petco app. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the company was already developing the infrastructure to offer customers curbside pickup. When the COVID-19 pandemic arrived, Petco immediately realized the impact it would have on its customers and the urgent need to accelerate solution development. It made the decision to contact JBS.
“It might have taken double the time if we hadn’t had the head start of being on AWS in an environment where infrastructure could be set up quickly.”
- Joe Rose, President, JBS Solutions
Teaming Up to Create a Flexible Shopping Experience
Pennsylvania-based JBS has been delivering custom software and application-based solutions since the turn of the millennium. To provide the best service to its United States–based clientele, it only recruits senior-level engineers in America to ensure expertise and shared work hours. JBS uses AWS solutions for approximately 80 percent of its projects and has a project-based engagement model that involves working with companies’ employees to make sure the staff has the proper training to maintain and update the software. “We do help companies’ staff teams and projects, but we really have more of a mentoring model,” says Joe Rose, president of JBS. “We bring in resources with the expectation that they’re going to help train, develop, and push employees and other consultants on the project.”
JBS needed to help Petco deploy curbside pickup capabilities quickly. The companies worked together to decide how to architect the solution. Curbside pickup’s popularity was difficult to predict. “There weren’t really situations to compare this to,” says Rose. “So the solution had to be able to scale somewhere between zero and a rocket ship blasting out of the atmosphere.” JBS was familiar with the advantages of a solution built on AWS. “We knew Petco’s systems well, and we knew AWS well,” says Rose. “We had already started to architect the environment so that doing quick technology pivots was a nonissue. It might have taken double the time if we hadn’t had the head start of being on AWS in an environment where infrastructure could be set up quickly.”
Deploying a Scalable Solution Quickly and Efficiently
To accommodate an unknown load while optimizing costs, JBS knew a serverless solution would be the best choice for Petco, taking advantage of automatic scaling capabilities. JBS chose AWS Lambda, a serverless compute service on which developers can run code without provisioning or managing servers, to power the solution. It also used Amazon DynamoDB—a fully managed, serverless, key-value NoSQL database designed to run high-performance applications at any scale—and Amazon Simple Queue Service (Amazon SQS), a fully managed message queuing service with which users can decouple and scale microservices, distributed systems, and serverless application. By using these services, developers could focus on creating the functionality needed for curbside pickup rather than spending time writing code to handle scaling and performance issues.
By implementing restriction and metering processes after deployment, JBS and Petco were able to spread out the load. “Serverless technology really does a tremendous job of scaling without a ton of overhead,” Rose says. “There wasn’t any tuning that we had to do in the serverless stack.”
To best meet website traffic, Petco uses Amazon Simple Notification Service (Amazon SNS), a fully managed messaging service for both application-to-application and application-to-person communication. “It was impressive how well it stood up to that type of spiky demand,” Rose says.
The team hit 100 percent of its project deliverables, deploying the curbside pickup solution in just 6 weeks. After the rollout, the team spent approximately 6 months fine-tuning the solution to offer customers and employees the best experience possible. For example, in monitoring the employees’ interactions with tablets when picking and staging orders, JBS noticed many were tapping the screens to make confirmations before the prompts appeared. The team identified these as unnecessary additional clicks and removed them. “We wanted to create a friction-free user experience,” Rose says. This was successful: customers enjoy the convenience and added safety of the contact-free offering, and Petco met its goal of fulfilling its customers’ needs. “As pet parents’ partner in caring for the overall health and wellness of their pets, at Petco, we’re focused on providing solutions that meet pet parents’ lifestyles and needs,” says Mike Brown, vice president of retail systems at Petco. “Curbside pickup is just one element of our constantly evolving omnichannel experience.”
“Serverless technology really does a tremendous job of scaling without a ton of overhead. There wasn’t any tuning that we had to do in the serverless stack.”
- Joe Rose, President, JBS Solutions
Working toward a Lasting Solution
JBS aims to support its clients with expertise in both technological applications and retail consulting. It knew the changes it helped Petco implement weren’t simply quick fixes; the COVID-19 pandemic had permanently changed buyer behavior. “Curbside pickup is never going away,” Rose says.
After working on this project, JBS has gained further insight into and experience in analyzing consumer behavior, such as how the use of different marketing channels can translate to higher conversion rates. “What we’ve learned working on this project has become part of our tool kit,” says Rose. “Now we can say, ‘We’ve experienced this firsthand, so we know it really well.’”
About the Customer
Petco is a health and wellness company focused on improving the lives of pets, pet parents, and employees. It operates more than 1,500 Petco locations and offers a complete online resource for pet health and wellness on its website and on the Petco app.
About the Partner
JBS Solutions has been delivering custom software and application-based solutions since 1999. It is an AWS Advanced Partner, an AWS Retail Competency Partner, an Authorized Commercial Reseller, and an AWS Public Sector Partner (PSP).
Published December 2021