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Toolstation’s Approach to Modern Data Streaming in the Cloud

When it comes to batch processing versus stream processing, both of them work. But one is a much more efficient way of doing it. A lot of the cost savings over the last twelve months has come from moving into a more efficient way of developing applications with stream processing.

Rob Contreras | Technical Architect


Limitations with click and collect (buy online, pick up in store) due to a legacy batch processing paradigm, during a pandemic, increased the pressure on a small engineering team to shift to an event-driven architecture powered by Confluent, in the cloud.


Confluent offered both the visionary qualities and the crucial practical features to help Toolstation eliminate the limitations of legacy batch processing, contributing to immediate revenue growth‚ÄĒas well as multicloud capability with GCP integration built in.


  • Ability to quickly implement and scale and move into production in six weeks with the help of Confluent‚Äôs Professional Services
  • An end to the risks and the runtime issues of batch processing
  • The advantage of multicloud capability, and integration with GCP
  • A cost-effective solution to maintain a healthy bottom line

Purchased by British builders‚Äô merchant and home improvement retailer Travis Perkins in 2014, Toolstation is a omnichannel retailer of building tools and materials with more than 500 branches in the U.K.‚ÄĒplus over 100 in the Netherlands, Belgium, and France. As such, Toolstation‚Äôs IT team is something of an anomaly: a small, agile team ensconced in a bigger,more traditional organization.

Even as the IT team has grown and become more structured over the last few years, Head of Architecture Stuart McGrogan says, ‚ÄúWe‚Äôre still architects with a small ‚Äėa.‚Äô We‚Äôre pragmatic and delivery-focused‚ÄĒnot so much a blue-sky-thinking sort of enterprise.‚ÄĚ

To support a hands-on style of progress, achieve rapid, steady growth, and to address limitations with the click-and-collect shopping in their stores (60 click-and-collect orders per branch/store per day), the IT team aimed to replace the legacy batch processing infrastructure, solve for technical debt, and remove silos between departments. There’s an ambitious roadmap in place to become fully cloud native, with a modern tech stack, by 2023. An enormous factor in that evolution is the ability to put data in motion with Confluent’s data streaming platform so the organization can take full advantage of an event-driven architecture.

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