Sainsbury’s transforms digital presence with Magnolia


Following its acquisition of Home Retail Group in 2016, Sainsbury’s began working with Magnolia to enhance its digital presence as a multi-brand, multi-channel retailer




Sainsbury's and Magnolia


United Kingdom



Sainsbury's changing the multi-channel retail industry

We all know Sainsbury’s as the reliable, quality and value-led supermarket that helps shoppers ‘Live Well For Less’. But being one of Britain’s most loved supermarkets isn’t an easy task. Behind the scenes, Sainsbury’s digital team works together to support over 1,500 stores and record numbers of online deliveries.

With a growing digital presence that includes Sainsbury’s Groceries Online, Argos, Tu clothing and Habitat, Sainsbury’s needed to ensure that its digital customers experience a seamless, easy and convenient shopping journey. This needed to be achieved alongside bringing its brands together to ensure consistency and increased author efficiency.


Bringing the brands together

Following Sainsbury’s acquisition of Home Retail Group in 2016 there were multiple CMS tools used across the Sainsbury’s business - whilst Argos and then Sainsbury’s had Magnolia implementations, they were very different, with other CMS tooling used for Tu clothing and Habitat. In line with bringing customer journeys together to help customers complete their missions across multiple brands, there was also a need to bring the CMS tooling technology together, to find a way of operating seamlessly together to benefit both customers and authors, while maintaining unique brand identities. 


A chance to rebuild across brands

Argos had been built on a forward-thinking headless CMS architecture that utilized Magnolia, making the most of decoupling front and backend with a modular design using technologies that could be put to similar but different uses. For example, all content was delivered to the frontend via JSON and rendered with React components from a component library that could be reused across multiple channels, applying brand-specific styling to retain unique brand identity but also ensuring consistency of journeys and design across channels. As such, the Argos Magnolia implementation was selected as a foundation to onboard all the other brands so they too could benefit from the flexibility and capability Argos authors and customers enjoyed.

Sainsbury’s has begun a process of merging its various brands’ digital solutions, moving towards an intuitive and flexible modular architecture with a common CMS. This solution not only aims to pull all of Sainsbury’s brands into a single ecosystem to ensure technical and authoring efficiency, but also allowing the business to deliver consistent customer journeys helps them with customers’ wider shopping missions – bringing together grocery and general merchandise journeys so customers can find whatever they need in a one-stop shop, across any channel.

Light development

Magnolia’s Light Development means that release cycles won’t normally need to be managed. By providing an agile way of working, Magnolia is helping Sainsbury’s to onboard multiple brands and sites easily. Following the acquisition of Home Retail Group, this feature has proved more vital than ever. Going forward, each brand’s systems will be brought together quickly with virtually no coding required. These systems can then be customized and scaled further down the line.

Flexible by design

Unlike other CMS providers, Magnolia doesn’t force brands into an ‘all or nothing’ style overhaul of their existing tech. Both Sainsbury’s and Argos already had complex technical architectures in place, including a combination of different providers and bespoke solutions. Magnolia's flexible, modular design meant that Sainsbury’s could continue to use these elements during a transition period. It has also proved flexible enough to support the business’s varying requirements— from cloud hosting to headless rendering, customization and cross-vendor integration points.

Author-first approach

While customer experience lies at the heart of the Sainsbury’s brands, the author experience is also vital. Through Visual SPA previews, content reuse across pages / channels, intelligent personalization tools and full control over the CMS’s UI, Magnolia is providing Sainsbury’s internal content teams with everything they need to create, manage and launch effective digital content campaigns.


Happy teams, happy customers

With Magnolia, Sainsbury’s is streamlining its architecture, creating a more powerful, flexible and intuitive cross-brand digital experience for both customers and colleagues.

With constant improvements still underway, Sainsbury’s has already reported significant cost savings, as well as improvements in author efficiencies and its core customer KPIs. Teams working with Magnolia have also shared higher satisfaction ratings, with content becoming easier to manage and publish than ever before.

Looking ahead, Sainsbury’s will continue the seamless integration of its various brands so customers receive the highest quality experiences across Argos, Sainsbury’s, Tu clothing and Habitat. Thanks to Magnolia’s flexible design, these systems are rapidly being merged and upgraded without significant downtime, allowing legacy systems to be phased out without major disruption.


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