The retail industry makes an astounding impact on the environment, and returns are no exception. According to some recent estimates, returned inventory creates 9.6 billion pounds of landfill waste in the U.S. every year and results in $761 billion in lost sales.
Optoro, the recipient of the Silver Stevie Award for Most Innovative Tech Company of 2022, is the leading provider of returns technology for retailers and brands. Optoro uses data science and real-time decision-making automation to make returns better for customers, retailers, and the planet.
Powered by AI-driven technology and sophisticated data analytics, Optoro’s all-in-one reverse logistics platform enables retailers to efficiently manage the entire returns lifecycle. From an easy online customer returns portal to warehouse processing and resale software, Optoro offers powerful solutions to improve outcomes across all points in the returns process.
“With the growth of e-commerce sales, return rates skyrocketed,” says Todd McAnally, Senior Vice President of Engineering at Optoro. “Optoro addressed this situation by developing an innovative solution to provide an easy experience for customers to initiate returns, receive and automate processing within returns facilities, and ultimately disposition items to their next best homes.”
Six years ago, Optoro was hosting their infrastructure on-premises, including a cage setup in a data center, company-owned or leased hardware, and a robust department to manage the physical infrastructure operations. Soon after, the DevOps team deployed Rancher to manage Kubernetes clusters and run containerized workloads on-prem to improve performance.
“When you run your own stack, you’re responsible and must maintain the specialized knowledge to keep operations running and fixing it when it’s broken,” says Daniel van den Berg, Director of Infrastructure Engineering at Optoro. “When the pandemic produced supply chain issues with lead times of eight weeks or more, being unable to procure equipment that had failed while absorbing the shocks of increased utilization became a real problem for us.”
It was time for a cloud provider. Because many of van den Berg’s team were already familiar with Google Cloud’s AI products, Optoro decided to reach out to Google Cloud. Since Optoro already used Google Cloud for data, reporting, and data science, it turned out to be a good match.
In early 2021, Optoro decided to initiate a lift-and-shift migration of their portfolio of products to Google Cloud and received a recommendation to engage SADA, a multiple-time Google Cloud Sales Partner of the Year, to guide the process.
Google Cloud sang high praises about SADA. It was clear SADA had completed quite a number of migration projects like the one we were about to start.Daniel van den Berg | Director of Infrastructure Engineering at Optoro
SADA and Optoro collaborated on a staged approach. First, they evaluated the current infrastructure. “In the discovery process, SADA wanted to know all the ins and outs, and went in depth to learn about our workflow,” says van den Berg.
Preparation and planning played a big role in the project. “Spending a significant amount of time front-loaded on the design was a really big part of our success,” says Nora Martin, Senior Delivery Manager at Optoro. “We went through and hashed out options and deliberated the right choices to move forward.”
Together, the migration team decided to implement an architecture with a Cloud Foundation and Google Cloud Landing Zone. SADA then presented best practices to modernize and replace the Rancher implementation with Google Cloud native products.
The next step was to move Optoro’s non-production environments to Google Cloud. “There were a couple of challenges we needed to figure out, and without SADA it would have taken us much longer,” says van den Berg. The team needed to determine how to access applications that each run their own PostgreSQL or MySQL databases stored inside Kubernetes on-prem within non-production clusters using Cloud SQL.
The final phase was migrating Optoro’s production systems, consisting of 60 workloads and terabytes of data, into Google Cloud.
SADA went above and beyond the call of duty on this project, especially when we had to do our migrations for anything that might be touched by our clients. We functioned as one collaborative team and worked together to achieve our goals.Nora Martin | Senior Delivery Manager at Optoro
As a result of working with SADA, Optoro was able to complete their migration to Google Cloud and shut down their on-premises operations. In the process they have become much more efficient by using GKE, saving 80 to 120 man-hours per week on infrastructure activities. With their entire infrastructure in code, Optoro can now make updates and enhancements with more ease.
“It’s significantly easier to keep up to date with software versions of Google Kubernetes Engine in Google Cloud compared to doing it on-prem,” says van den Berg. “On-prem, we would have to figure everything out on our own, including how to deploy Kubernetes, how to take the downtime, and what the order of operations should be. In Google Cloud, it’s literally just one mouse click and you’re done.”
Additionally, Optoro has leveraged GKE to increase performance and improve elasticity to future-proof a growing customer base and expanding portfolio of products. Overall, SADA helped Optoro:
- Implement a Cloud Foundation and Google Cloud Landing Zone to support GKE applications
- Migrate PostgreSQL and MySQL databases to Cloud SQL
- Leverage Google Cloud cloud-native tools
- Enhance operations with a scalable, resilient, and easy-to-maintain system
Big box retailers and major brands trust Optoro’s technology to make the returns process a strategic advantage for their businesses and enable sustainability initiatives across their supply chains. As a consequence, Optoro’s customers have been able to keep 3.8 million pounds of waste out of landfills and cut carbon emissions by 60%.