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Case Study

Softcat gives Love2Shop the gift of time with a managed cloud service

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Love2Shop is the UK’s leading provider of multi-retailer gift cards and digital rewards services, to corporate and consumer markets. They specialises in providing financial management solutions to many of the UK’s key retail businesses. Love2Shop, and Park Christmas Savings are just some of the brands that serve their strong customer base. Founded nearly 50-years ago, newer products in conjunction with a sharp increase in the digital retail experience have contributed to significant business and associated IT growth for Love2Shop.

Many years ago, it was an obvious choice for Love2Shop to evolve their IT provision for its business to Public Cloud – a de facto platform for many retail or similar businesses who are seeking to better align business demand with technology use. Similarly, as with many businesses, the continued innovation from Public Cloud providers coupled with cloud skills shortages, drove Love2Shop to evaluate how it delivers 24x7 cloud platform operations, resulting in a new Softcat partnership.

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Key facts

  • Provides digital financial management solutions to many of the UK’s leading retail businesses.
  • Founded 50 years ago but already has a cloud-first IT approach to underpin the business.
  • Seeking new ways to support Cloud while reducing the cost of it.

The Challenge

While Microsoft Azure was already the preferred platform, as with many organisations, the cost of Cloud was continuing to rise and immediate resource challenge with an internal IT team juggling business-as-usual (BAU) and future project needs, collectively resulting in Love2Shop to consider new approaches for managing Cloud.

With an already longstanding relationship in place, the Softcat team were able to provide expertise and help Love2Shop explore options and make recommendations based on what other businesses were doing. A cloud services partnership was born, and as this exploration progressed, it also became apparent that Love2Shop was facing increased pressure around the ever-rising cost of cloud, with a desire to optimise and/or reduce monthly costs while improving operational reliability and security.

The resourcing of our IT team was changing, at a time where we wanted to ensure the reliability of our Microsoft Azure platform all while reducing the cost of it. As such we began to explore external options to help us evolve our use of Cloud, while providing more bandwidth to our internal resource - Craig Pilkington, Infrastructure Manager at Love2Shop.

Critical success factors

  • Reduce monthly costs while improving operational reliability and security
  • Minimise use of internal resource for BAU
  • Ensure a solid foundation of the current state of play


The Solution

The need for a managed service was apparent, where the chosen partner would provide 24x7x365 platform operations to assume responsibility for the day-to-day, while driving down the cost of Cloud and ensuring its use aligns with best practice. However, the cloud partner market is crowded, and Love2Shop required assurances, that the increase in cost from a managed service would provide a return on investment by reducing cloud cost as well as free up much need operational cover.

Softcat’s previous experience and key service features were enough to provide said assurances to Love2Shop, with highlights including:

  • Cloud native design, build and operations (leveraging aspects such as infrastructure as code as standard and native cloud tooling to avoid additional operational complexity and cost).
  • FinOps (to ensure proactive regular commercial optimisation).
  • Innovation Points (Softcat reinvesting its customers spend for the customer to call off against future projects, Cloud or other).

Matt Larder, Head of Cloud at Softcat, said: “The journey with Love2Shop started in a fairly typical way; identify areas of optimisation (reliability, security, commercial) in the existing cloud platform then work with the customer to agree a plan to mitigate

said areas. Specifically, for Love2Shop this was through the adoption of the Softcat Managed Service. However, a mature cloud partner must also recognise and demonstrate that said optimisations will reduce the costs of cloud for the customer and in doing so disrupt the commercial relationship with Softcat. Softcat embraces such disruptions as the only foundation of a mutually valuable partnership.”

As with many similar previous engagements, the first step was to review the current state of play, identify all areas of improvement (security, architecture, reliability, commercial) and importance. Several items were identified and remediated by Softcat as part of the follow-on onboarding into the Softcat Managed Service.

From there the Softcat team including Cloud native SRE function, FinOps practice, Lov2Shop aligned lead architect and Service Delivery Manager went about delivering on the promise of the service.



  • 24x7x365 Azure PlatformOps.
  • FinOps to ensure maximum optimisation and alignment of IT to business needs.
  • Ongoing architectural oversight to help shape new projects in line with best practice and operational efficiency.


The Benefits 

The results were a range of short and medium term benefits including:

  • Immediate access to the Softcat Cloud SRE function to take care of the Azure BAU activities 24x7x365, freeing up Love2Shop internal resource pressure.
  • An approximate £100,000 annual Azure cost saving, this includes factoring the managed service commercials, thus providing substantial return on investment.
  • A more efficient Azure platform (technology) with several technology and process improvements implemented (architecture, security and reliability).


At a Glance

  • Reduction in the time that Love2Shop IT spends on BAU activities.
  • An approximate £100,000 annual Azure cost saving.
  • Overall improvement in Azure platform health, reliability & architecture.


Why Softcat

Craig Pilkington, Infrastructure Manager at Love2Shop said: “The end-to-end process was extremely efficient, taking approximately 4-weeks to identify & plan for improvements in our current platform as well as highly automated onboarding into the Softcat service. The Softcat team demonstrated great expertise throughout the process, re-assuring us that we were in a safe pair of hands and a valued customer. Moreover, the initial expectations of cost saving were absolutely delivered on.”

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