Auchan Poland online store
Following almost one year of hard work, in February 2021, Auchan Poland’s webshop system went live in six stores. The international project was renewed in cooperation between LogiNet, Auchan Hungary and Revolution Software and was managed almost completely by online meetings due to COVID-19. Multiple steps led to the successful project implementation, including the launch of a demo webshop with limited functionality in summer 2020. Our case study presents the peculiarities and challenges of the project.
Auchan Poland is the largest retail chain in Poland with more than 40% market share, so strengthening the online channel became inevitable for them.
They started their online commerce channel named Auchan Direct in 2011, which only traded food in the beginning, and in 2019 the selection was widened with non-food items. The webshop served Warsaw and its surroundings by home delivery, pick-up at the store (Click&Collect) or at parcel machines.
Dynamically growing Polish e-commerce market
The Polish online market grew by 16% in 2019 (estimated market value was EUR 14 billion), and by 25% in 2020 (estimated market value was EUR 17.5 billion), and the performance of the past two years made it the 13th fastest growing market in the world. The outlook for the future is imposing too: the online segment is expected to be worth EUR 21 billion by 2021, while by 2025 the expectations rise to EUR 36 billion
“In light of these numbers it’s understandable why Auchan Poland was looking for online expansion. They have been seeking out information in 2019 already, they visited us in Hungary and drew up case studies for introducing an e-commerce system. Their previous system was outdated with support neither from the manufacturer nor from corporate, and since this stopped them from developing, it also stopped them from expansion. They had to do something about it,” – Miklós Czeglédi, Auchan Retail Hungary’s digital director said.
Auchan Poland wanted to introduce a new IT solution for the webshop development, so LogiNet and Revolution Software Kft, who created Auchan Hungary’s e-commerce system in 2016, were entrusted with the necessary software development. In addition to the establishment of the e-commerce system, the plans also included launching a mobile application, and covering the whole area of the country with their services.
The Polish customer mapped the Hungarian Auchan operations on site and established the list of functions needed for the webshop. The Hungarian developers prepared the offer for the different development needs and the implementation, and the project started in February 2020.
Auchan Poland’s concept involved keeping their already operating online channel (Auchan Direct) at first, while the new webshop would increase their national coverage (they were planning online food sales for 14 cities, with the sales for non-food items covering the whole country). Auchan Direct was supposed to be integrated in the online system once the new webshop has been launched.
The project started with a lot of consultation, which was absolutely necessary due to differences in the partners’ mindsets, for the precise understanding of needs and mapping local specialties. Starting the working process with the different teams was also a challenge, while the consultations at the negotiations always took place in English.
The Polish partner set tight deadlines: they were already planning to launch a temporary, so-called Quick & Dirty solution with a limited functionality by the summer of 2020. All of that demanded a tight working speed from the Hungarian developers, since they had to respond to the requirements coming from national particularities, such as the integration of different payments systems, customer database, stocks and delivery options, the deviations in the interpretations of GDPR and the differences in the rules for promotional products. Furthermore, they had to offer solutions for specific local requirements (such as replacement products, timeslots differing from the Hungarian ones, packaging), and the design also needed to be updated due to the Polish language. The webshop design – as well as the one for Auchan Hungary - was prepared by the LogiNet UX team, 22.design.
The Polish partner requested many functions that were not included in the Hungarian webshop (such as different virtual coupons, free delivery, SMS messaging services), but due to the lack of time these requested needed to be prioritized.
The developments were conducted with the usual “planning, estimation – development – testing and go live” method, using agile methodology.
Although the Polish company started using the solution used by Auchan Hungary, the system could not be implemented “as is” for the Polish circumstances. Legal requirements and specific local requests, which could not be handled by the Hungarian system, necessitated further developments. (As for the future they are planning a business-development model that considers requirements from Poland, but compares them to Hungarian development needs and tries to find economies of scale on the company level by shared developments. This would enable them to only perform the development once and use the software in multiple countries.)
The international project’s specifics:
- Different payment systems
- Different GDPR interpretation
- Different regulations (for promotional products, for example)
- Different local preferences (such as free delivery, SMS messaging, packaging, timeslots, replacement products)
As for the differences between the two countries, the developers tried to standardize what they could (such as the informative email for feedback considering replaced products, with direct link to the product pages), but there were many cases, when standardization was not an option (for example for phone numbers and tax number formats). Some local specificities gave the developers unexpected challenges, like the ones below:
Store selector: The most spectacular difference between the Hungarian and Polish channel was the “store selector”. In Hungary only a postcode is required in order to start the ordering process, while Poland requires using a store selector with a list, filtering, Google map and displaying available services.
The customers found different stocks in each area, and even the prices were different at the beginning (for example, tomatoes in Gdansk did not cost the same as they would in Wroclaw). In order for the webshop to display the correct stocks and prices for the customers, it was necessary to identify from which warehouse (and not store) the customer will be eventually served. A solution was worked out that provides this information to the backend under the hood. Presently the prices are not different anymore in different parts of the country, but the stocks in the database are.
Postal code: For the home delivery services they had to work out a solution for the problem that Poland has no central database for streets, identification and providing the delivery address happens based on the city and the postal code. (This might be the reason why Auchan Poland has a more refined customer service and closer relation to the customers).
Online payment: Online payment in Poland is different from payment in Hungary. While we only accept bank cards for payment, Poland uses many online payment options: wire transfer, payment with applications, etc. (These payment options are joined together by an online payment services provider.) This means that in some cases they have to “wait” for payment, which is not characteristic at the Hungarian operation.
Integration of systems: The development of the Polish webshop required the integration of multiple systems due to its complexity. The webshop pulls most of the data from the Navision business management system and the interface database, most of the other external systems connect to these two.
The temporary online sales solution (Q&D) from July 2020 was replaced by the successful go live of the webshop on 14 February 2021. The webshop can be accessed for food products from six cities at the moment (with home delivery in one place and Click&Collect solution for the others). Non-food items are scheduled to be launched in the autumn.
Future plans: More developments, launching the mobile app
The webshop developments are not stopping. The launch of the mobile application is planned for 2021, and the integration of the Customer Diamond (customer database) would happen subsequently. After that they are planning to migrate Auchan Direct (their old online channel, which currently serves Warsaw and its vicinity, will be melted into the new webshop) and introduce non-food activities.