How Mira Commerce Helps Develop Innovative Digital Channel Improvements to Canadian Enterprise Retailer, Giant Tiger, on Unified Kibo Platform
Giant Tiger is a 62-year old Canadian multi-channel retailer with 260+ stores operating as a franchise merchant selling groceries and general merchandise. A leading Canadian owned family discount store committed to providing on-trend family fashions, groceries, and everyday needs at the lowest prices possible.
Challenge: The Coronavirus pandemic drove retailers to accelerate digital transformation and forced merchants like Giant Tiger to quickly adapt and roll out digital channel features that expand and enhance their already successful curbside pickup and BOPIS/BORIS services with Grocery Click n’ Collect services to allow customers to include the purchase and scheduling for pickup of fresh food products with their online orders.
With Kibo Commerce being Giant Tiger’s eCommerce platform of choice for their omni-channel initiatives, Mira Commerce was trusted to deliver on these complex projects as Giant Tiger’s digital agency technology partner. Mira Commerce’s expertise in building and supporting Kibo Commerce solutions surpasses their reputation to be very effective in delivering omni-channel innovations to mid-level and enterprise-level retailers that exceed the client’s and their customer’s expectations.
Mira Commerce team of Developers and Project Managers worked closely with Giant Tiger’s Sr. Manager of Digital Technology, Andrei, and Sr. Manager of Digital Experience and eCommerce Technology, Jenn to understand Giant Tiger’s needs and deliver solutions in a timely manner to stay ahead of the pandemic’s shift on retail strategy that ensured Giant Tiger was ready to meet the rapidly evolving needs of their customers as they continued to grapple with the many unplanned changes to their daily lives as individuals and families brought about by the historic health emergency. The team was cross-functional in order to execute new custom features and functionality that would need to be rolled out every week.
The start of Giant Tiger’s partnership with Mira Commerce for Kibo Support
Jenn explains that Giant Tiger’s history with Kibo has been ongoing for almost eight years. “We started on Kibo MarketLive (platform) for the front-end before we actually launched our web store seven years ago. Over the years our involvement with Kibo grew, and as of today we are utilizing Kibo for order management and personalization, so we are utilizing much of their Unified stack. When we started on MarketLive we worked directly with the MarketLive team for much of the development needed to launch our site; however, during that duration we didn’t get the timely turnaround we needed. Then the version of MarketLive we were utilizing needed an upgrade, and it was actually Kibo who recommended for us to consider engaging with an SI partner such as Mira Commerce to work through the upgrade instead of trying to manage a long line of projects ourselves. That was a huge indication that Kibo was trying to change their model from focusing on direct client development to focus more on the platform. And so, the upgrade is where the relationship with Mira Commerce began. Then, our company decided to install the Kibo Order Management on our backend, which was formerly called Shopatron, and we worked with Mira Commerce for that integration as well, and this sort of spun off our ongoing support projects with Mira. We have been working with Mira’s team for the last six years as our strategic goals for online expanded so did our work with Mira to design and develop new, custom features and functionality while continuing to deploy different updates and changes as needed.”
The year is 2020, Giant Tiger is in the midst of multiple projects with Mira Commerce to complete their upgrade to Kibo’s new platform and deploy enhancements to the data integrations with other enterprise systems so the information that is coming out of and going into Kibo remains consistent to minimize the impact on the other systems. Some of this depended on Kibo Commerce themselves and the information coming out of their platform, but in terms of the information going into Kibo, Mira had to format the data translation layer to make sure that all other enterprise systems sending data over to Kibo didn’t have to be updated for use on our new site. Then, the Covid pandemic hit everyone world-wide.
As most businesses, Giant Tiger feared they would not be able to keep their physical doors open as the world went into lockdown mode. Giant Tiger was about 80% migrated onto Kibo’s new platform and lacking resources to redo the integrations, then the focus shifts to how can Giant Tiger get their full product assortment on the website.
Giant Tiger was not only challenged with how to use Kibo’s new platform to create best online shopping experiences for their customers and also how to:
- Integrate the Kibo front-end with their Order Management back-end
- Connect three other vendors in their ecosystem which drives their customer loyalty program: Listrak for emails. Inmar for loyalty. And, Mercatus, the app they use as part of their loyalty program. Mercatus is a single sign-on that allows Giant Tiger customers to use their Kibo account to not only log into the website but also log into the app that allows them to engage with their loyalty program, as well as click over to Inmar to view all the offers that are part of a seamless, unified app experience.
- Implement a Click n’ Collect program to limit customer in store time as a Covid safety precaution.
These were the major challenge points, and Mira Commerce were the architects making this all fit together. The strategy to surviving the pandemic as a business was to accelerate the roadmap for the online channel from 5 years down to 18 months by:
- Extending the loyalty program from offline, in-store to a unified program available to customers through the online channel;
- Expanding the available product assortment to include all full hard goods;
- Delivering a comprehensive, robust grocery shopping capability to allow customers to purchase fresh produce and other perishable products from their selected store;
- Updating the site’s UI design to incorporate the company’s new brand and style standards to ensure visual consistency across all customer shopping channels;
- Adding new features all tied together by refinements of key user flows to enhance their customer’s shopping experience.
The challenge was not just about surviving in the eCommerce world, but creating an eCommerce channel that people want to shop from since the physical shopping experience was eliminated. Is the site user friendly? Are products easily searchable? Is it easy to sign-in? Is the website easy to navigate? Is it easy to check-out? This is where Giant Tiger leaned on Mira Commerce to finesse the shopping experience for their customers.
Giant Tiger’s Goals
Jenn explains from a confidential point “we were shy to get into eCommerce because we didn’t think being a discount retailer our customers would purchase online. Then we quickly realized we had more and more customers from all over shopping our site, and the pandemic only accelerated that demand with more and more online-savvy customers. We are on a vertical growth pattern.” Andrei adds “we want to increase conversion rate, and we want to increase business.”
Solutions presented by Mira Commerce
Over the 6+ year partnership between Giant Tiger and Mira Commerce, Mira has provided structural changes to meet Giant Tiger’s evolving and expanding demands. In 2020 the services delivery model transitioned from executive ad hoc projects to an agile dedicated team.
Jenn says “the complexity of our setup really pushed the limits on the Kibo side and we ended up stumbling on site issues once we were live which were not apparent in testing. However, with Mira Commerce’s expertise we have a more modern site and have all the improvements that come from KIBO’s UCP to help. The customer experience has been great and our conversion rate is up. We are getting more and more customers engaging with our digital experience, which is fantastic. Even though there are hiccups with the platform itself which takes the attention away from the wins, we are overall extremely satisfied with Mira’s delivery. The dedicated Mira team shows up, they are very much engaged, they are proactive, and we very much enjoy our working relationship with them.” Andrei adds “we feel Mira is a natural extension of Giant Tiger, and I hope Mira feels we are a naturally organic extension of them to a certain degree. Even though it is two separate companies, I believe we work on a blended level and remove the organizational boundaries that allow us to work very closely together.”
Driving Results to Evolve the Customer Journey
Although Giant Tiger’s eCommerce business growth is not continuing to expand at an exponential rate, their leadership team recognizes the urgency to promote their digital channel, especially in a post-Covid world. Andrei and Jenn explain that their customers fall in an older demographic and don’t have the typical online shopping behavior. However, Giant Tiger’s management recognizes the importance for their business to have an online presence. When a business has a digital presence, it makes it much easier for customers to find you. More often than not, a customer will turn to the internet when looking for a company or a product. Even if you have a brick-and-mortar business, you need a digital presence to bridge the gap for your consumers. “That is exactly what Mira Commerce helped establish for us, and the best thing is the relationship with Mira which served us as a channel to build our website. Mira Commerce gets things done!” adds Andrei. The website along with the Click n Collect function has made it easier for Giant Tiger customers to combine online and instore shopping. In a post-Covid environment, there is still a fear for shoppers, specifically for an older demographic, of not just physically being inside a store but the amount of time spent inside the store. The digital developments Mira Commerce helped Giant Tiger deploy minimizes their customers’ in store shopping time and risk, which increases their digital user experience footprint.
As Giant Tiger continues to address the challenges to come, Mira Commerce is the perfect partner to be there to address whatever the future holds.