Coles Group Builds on Single Customer ID Across Online Stores and Apps

coles web app image
Coles Group is on its way to setting up a single identity credential working across its online and app-based stores, which gives it a single view of the customer and enables personalising their experience.


According to platform engineering group manager Assaf Warchitzky in a recent Auth0 webinar, the central customer-identity service is one of the initial projects for the relatively new that he leads.


Started six months ago, platform engineering intends to build and stand up platform components that can be utilised across Coles’ digital properties and brands.


It is backed by a team of about 40 members and sits within the wider IT team of about 1,000 people.


Warchitzky stated that Coles had “a number of brands and customer-facing digital channels on different stacks and different technologies.”


Some used technology from on-premises data centres whereas others were in the cloud or were currently being refreshed.


“All of these different customer channels — from the Coles website and Coles mobile app to Coles online, Coles Express and the liquor brands — is a ‘world’ in its own right,” he said.


“What we’re trying to [do now is to] serve everyone from the same platform.”


Moreover, the variation in technology stacks meant that experiences across Coles-owned online properties differ.


“It’s not a secret — if you sign up to Coles Online you have one set of credentials, if you go to shop at Liquorland you will have another set, and some of the other channels we have they don’t really offer any personalised experience right now,” Warchitzky said.


Often, registration or logging in is the “front door” to a customer’s digital experience. “Sometimes this is the first experience a customer will see when they’re trying to interact with you,” Warchitzky said.  


“If this is the front door for Coles in the digital channels, we would like to offer the same branded experience, the same interactions, and the same behaviours for those digital channels across the different brands. 


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“So when someone tries to sign into Liquorland, they should have the same flows, the same feeling, and expect the same user experience when they do that with Coles Online.”


Setting up a single customer identity credential would also help Coles better understand how a single customer interacts with the company’s brands in a much easier way.


“It’s not just a single customer identity; it’s really a single customer view,” Warchitzky said. 


“Identity is the start of that journey but on top of that, we can start building a lot of these other things that our customers expect and a lot of the personalisation and those added value features that we would like to provide to our customer in the future. 


“But it all starts with understanding who our customer is, and it’s not just their emails and passwords — that’s the starting point. Once we’ve established that, it’s really about what we do with that once they’re in.”


Warchitzky stated that Coles would buy in the actual underpinning identity technology.


“We don’t want to be in the business of building identity services,” he said.


“We want to provide a great customer and shopping experience for our customers and really play to our strengths and focus on where we can add value for that particular business.”


The exact way the Coles ID would work or be presented to users still appears to be an open question.


“The plan is that in general if it’s a Coles channel that we build and own and operate, then it will use that Coles Group identity, that unified single identity, and this is the plan going forward,” Warchitzky said.


“For Liquorland, we might have the colours and the logos for Liquorland specific but it’s still going to say Coles Group at the bottom.
“We want to offer this cross-cutting capability through the Coles Group.”
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