Established supermarkets are facing their fair share of challenges these days, from meeting customer demands for innovative services and convenience to facing new competition on the digital and real-world fronts. Those grocery chains that began their digital transformation journeys early on will be better positioned to remain a leader in their industry.
Tops Markets, which recently merged with Price Chopper to form Northeast Grocery Inc., is one of them. (Both chains continue to operate under their current names.) Tops worked with DXC Technology on a 2-year transformation and transition project to increase its agility, become more efficient and gain greater transparency into operations, while reducing business disruptions and IT costs.
The grocer — which has been providing consumers with food and household staples since 1962, later adding pharmacies, banks and gas stations to its services — today has a modernized infrastructure that has enabled it to deliver capabilities including ecommerce solutions, digital communication applications and analytics.
Tops credits DXC, which has partnered with the company for more than a decade, with building the infrastructure it needs to better serve customers; handle its 138% growth from 71 to 169 stores; hit all IT service level agreements; and save about 10% of ongoing annual IT costs.
“DXC is providing IT managed services — data center, cloud, servers, storage, database, network, cyber security, workplace, disaster recovery and help desk, in addition to applications development and maintenance services, analytics and M&A services,” says Mike Metz, vice president, Information Technology, Tops Markets.
Twenty DXC experts work onsite at Tops to help drive its digital transformation. DXC has brought immense value to Tops over the years, says John Persons, president and COO, “including the way that they are able to steward the business along.”
Delivering what the consumer wants
With a flexible hybrid cloud environment and agile operating model in place, Tops was able to increase its speed in delivering new features and services.
DXC also assisted in the integration of Tops’ InstaCart home delivery application. Such services were invaluable to consumers during the COVID-19 pandemic, and they have staying power for supermarkets: In 2020 $73.7 billion was spent online for groceries, increasing to $79.2 billion in 2021 and expected to top $85 billion in 2022, according to a report from Adobe. Groceries now make up 8.9% of the ecommerce share overall, Adobe says. Tops recently announced that it is expanding its InstaCart services, already in 131 stores, to 9 new locations in New York.
Putting a greater emphasis on customer outcomes was a major goal for Tops. “Many times DXC has pushed us to do things that we really need to do and maybe didn’t feel ready to do, but they’ve given us the tools to put those thing into place to serve our customers going into the future,” says Frank Curci, former Tops chairman and CEO, who was named CEO of Northeast Grocery this year.
Improving collaboration among the Tops team
A critical part of Tops’ cloud migration involved moving users from their existing on-premise environment to Microsoft 365 Exchange Online, standardizing processes and providing employees with innovative services.
DXC used its agile, repeatable and proven cloud migration services, which can run workloads natively on Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform, for the task. The consistent migration factory methods drive seamless integration and efficiency of the migration process to minimize business disruption.
The effort included migrating 4,000 mailboxes from Microsoft Exchange to Microsoft 365 Exchange Online, and more than 2 TB of data with minimal impact. Processes were standardized, costs were reduced and users’ mailbox sizes were increased.
Persons is impressed by the flexibility and innovation that DXC’s team has brought to helping transform the company. “The DXC relationship is the preeminent partnership of any of our service providers,” Persons says.