Loblaw Manages Unprecedented Online Surge With Google Cloud

The grocer enlisted Google to set up a digital war room and even activated Black Friday/Cyber Monday protocols to handle increased digital sales.

Need to Know

  • As one of the first Canadian grocers to offer online same-day order and delivery options when COVID-19 hit, Loblaw saw an unprecedented spike in online traffic resulting in website strain and looked to Google Cloud to handle the load and scale up its various omnichannel offerings. 
  • Working side-by-side, engineers from both Google and Loblaw Digital Technology Team activated a dedicated war room to account for the uptick—adjusting the Loblaw platform, stabilizing traffic, and providing an uninterrupted customer experience. 
  • The grocer also utilized Takeoff Technologies to roll out its first micro-fulfillment center complete with a robotic tracking system and cloud and AI technology, all powered by Google Cloud.
  • Earlier this year Loblaw reported surpassing $1 billion in e-commerce sales for the year 2019.


As fears of COVID-19 transmissions increased at the start of the year, more and more consumers took their shopping online to help curb the spread and help flatten the curve. On average, Canadian consumers’ grocery spend increased from 1.5% to 9% due to the pandemic. 

As one of the first Canadian grocers offering same-day ordering and delivery, Loblaw quickly saw unprecedented levels of web traffic, orders, and website strain, prompting them to upgrade. The massive grocer turned to Google Cloud to handle the sharp uptick in traffic and roll out platforms that could engage with millions of new online customers.

“Moving our online grocery site to Google Cloud Platform gave us a 4x performance increase and the capacity to handle up to 3 times the traffic; and we can scale up at any time,” said Hesham Fahmy, VP of technology at Loblaw in a release.

To handle the surge, Google Cloud activated its BFCM (Black Friday Cyber Monday) protocols, creating a war room with the Loblaw Digital’s Technology team. Together engineers from both Google Cloud and Loblaw were able to stabilize and settle online traffic, protecting the Loblaw platform and ensuring uninterrupted customer experience. 

In addition to a Cloud optimized platform, one of the largest grocery chains in North America automated its fulfillment with Google Cloud partner Takeoff Technologies. In its first-ever micro-fulfillment center, Loblaw uses a robotic racking system and cloud and AI technology, powered by Google Cloud to store, pack, and fulfill customer orders. 

In addition to new technologies, Loblaw hired thousands of new personal shoppers, added thousands of slots for pickup every week to keep up with the surging demand. 

“In a matter of days, our online traffic spiked four-fold,” said VP of online grocery Sharon Lansing. “During this time, it was critical that our teams were able to find ways to better serve our customers and ensure that we were able to deliver that service quickly.” 

Click-and-collect remains the highest-growth and highest-revenue generating e-commerce option for the grocery chain. Its focus on digital growth and innovation, third-party marketplaces, and the growing success of its digital loyalty program, PC Optimum helped the grocer report a whopping $1 billion in e-commerce sales for the 2019 year, nearly doubling totals from the year prior. With its newly Cloud-powered platforms and fulfillment centers and increased online traffic, the grocer is well-positioned to surpass the benchmark set in 2019.