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CASE STUDY: Dunelm saves time and money with digital transformation

By Retail Technology | Wednesday March 11 2020

Home furnishings retailer Dunelm has saved time, effort and money in staffing costs by transforming its digital infrastructure


In 2018, Dunelm began a massive digital overhaul of their existing internal infrastructure in favour of a modern, flexible cloud data platform. “One of the key things we wanted to do was move over to a cloud platform, AWS, where we could scale up and down and build the best in class for our online customers,” said Antony Sohal, head of data platforms for Dunelm.

As part of this transition, they replaced their in-house identity system with Auth0, a move that has saved them time, effort, and money in staffing costs.

An Infrastructure Evolution

Dunelm was using a homegrown identity solution that required a lot of manpower to support. “Our in-house solution just didn't span,” said Sohal, “and the developers found it really hard to work around. A couple of teams needed to work on it. It just ended up being really difficult to maintain, make sure that it's always secure, make sure that it's patched, make sure it's up to date, etc.”

As part of their technology overhaul, Dunelm decided to outsource certain aspects of their infrastructure to trusted experts. “One of the key decisions,” explained Sohal, “was to focus on what we’re good at and single out what we’re not good at. We built a product service, a pricing service, we bought authentication, we even bought search as a service. We bought the infrastructure we needed.”

When it came time to pick out a secure identity provider, Dunelm chose Auth0. “We know our customers,” said Sohal, “but we don't know security. Auth0 are experts at security. So why should we build this when we can get a great solution off the shelf from them?”

Multiple Opportunities For Auth0

Although they initially planned to use Auth0 for simple customer authentication, Dunelm eventually incorporated the service into multiple parts of their business.

  • M2M — Dunelm supports their single-page application isomorphic website with a variety of API microservices, including a product and pricing service, a stock service and an availability service. They use Auth0 for machine-to-machine authentication, to set rate limits, and to authenticate third-party API integrations from suppliers. Currently, the number of M2M connections is “in the millions.”
  • B2B —They also use Auth0 to connect with their external suppliers. Sohal explained: “We just create a user database in Auth0 and they access our external portals to upload their information when they need anything about products or any third-party products Dunelm sells.”
  • B2E — Finally, Dunelm uses Auth0 to facilitate staff logins at their customer care centres.

Finding a Security Partner Saves on Staffing

By transitioning to a microservice architecture, Dunelm was able to not just survive, but thrive in the modern retail landscape.

Partnering with Auth0 means developers don’t have to worry about security and can focus on their core mission of creating value for the end consumer. “Auth0 allows our developers to purely focus on capabilities and functionality, which add value to the business,” added Sohal. “Security is a really good commodity we can get from Auth0 rather than building it ourselves. By offsetting that to a product like Auth0, we can accelerate faster and just focus on the core business functionality.”

Sohal estimates that partnering with Auth0 saves Dunelm from needing an entire team of eight to ten dedicated security experts and developers.

An Expanded Use Case Includes B2C

Going forward, Dunelm plans to expand their Auth0 use case by simplifying checkout for their customers. “We are continually evolving our digital transformation,” said Sohal. “At the moment we’re doing anonymous checkout, but the next phase is to identify users and populate their info to facilitate the checkout process or help them locate their orders. We are focused purely on adding customer value.”

Dunelm finds Auth0 intuitive and easy to work with because it is a product by developers for developers. “We could have gone to a different partner,” explained Sohal, “but the marriage of having somebody who really understands security and the ease of use, I think that was the lynchpin of going with Auth0 and using their product rather than their competitors.”

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