“The three most important things in retail is location, location, location. The three most important things for our customer business are technology, technology, technology.” -Jeff Bezos CEO, Amazon Every retailer dreams to be called a unicorn! True? But what can help them to be called a unicorn? Let’s see. The current scenario of Retail Industry With the rise in digital technologies, the www has highly disrupted the retail industry: e-commerce is a threat for brick-and-mortar stores. The website, mobile app, social media, online marketplace and many more have given customers the power to browse even when the store door is closed. With this convenience, the customer can buy when and where they want, while the retailer benefits from constant availability and visibility of its brand and messaging. The IT landscape in the retail industry is expanding beyond traditional ERP, CRM and supply chain management. To compete in this IT landscape, retailers are using new technologies such as analytics, big data, and social media to identify individual customer preferences and behaviors to offer a personalized shopping experience. But, this data has to be managed well. To take the informed decisions and help the enterprise to grow revenues, reduce costs, utilize assets and manage risk; they need to have data management infrastructure. But, what if there is no data management infrastructure? Many retailers don’t possess data management infrastructure which is crucial to process a huge amount of data. It is because their enterprise system is widely distributed, dissimilar and costly to manage. To extract the information, many retailers expand capacity by continuing to add servers without any strategic plan which leaves no stone unturned to leave critical information scattered and inconsistent across the sales channel. However, with such intricacies, they need something that can create business value by integrating, optimizing and analyzing heterogeneous types of information assets. However, to manage the information, there is one more infrastructure management added to the kitty i.e. Amazon Web Services. Amazon Consulting Service can just be the answer to the needs of the retailers. With this, the question arises, how AWS can change the scenario of today’s retail industry? Let’s have a brief idea of what is Amazon Web Service (AWS) AWS is a secure cloud service platform, offering computing power, database storage, content delivery and other functionalities to help businesses scale and grow. In layman’s term, it is like using some other company’s more sophisticated computer to give power to your own needs. In return for the services, you’d pay them. Innovation with AWS: Effective Information Management As of 2017, AWS was ranked among the four largest public cloud providers in the world, along with Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure, and IBM Softlayer. Moreover, the statistic shows the global current usage of various public cloud platform services for running applications as of 2018, according to a January 2018 survey. So, AWS is leveraging. Isn’t this quite interesting? Amazon cloud services offer infrastructure and services retailers need to overcome the challenges rapidly at low cost. It offers on-demand virtually unlimited compute and storage resources to enhance omnichannel delivery, cope up with the seasonal peaks and garner new insight from operational and customer data. It helps the retailers in certain ways such as:- Reduce overall IT costs Provide reliable, secure and scalable data storage Availability of Range of data analytics tools Possesses AI capabilities to bring intelligence to the application Replace upfront infrastructure investment with low monthly costs Helps to focus on projects that make your business unique and not the infrastructure Eliminates guessing on your infrastructure capacity needs Develop and deploy application faster Takes less time to make your app global Competitive advantages of AWS cloud services for the retail industry Scaling on demand With AWS, it becomes easy for the retailers to add and scale unlimited computing capacity quickly and efficiently manage demand peaks. AWS provides the capabilities to twirl up hundreds or thousands of servers on-demand; this can be taken down again just as quickly and easily when traffic is less. AWS auto-scaling monitors your application and predicts your performance at a lower cost. It can even help you to develop scaling plans, create scaling policies and sets the target based on the preferences. Retailers can lessen up overall IT cost because no server will be idle throughout the year. It’s autoscaling capabilities makes sure that they have always the resources available as and when the needs grow. When the demand subsides, auto-scaling reduces the resources and make sure that retailers only for the resources used. Cost-Effective solution AWS cloud services can cut down much of the cost because you only have to pay for storage, computing power and other resources used. It supports ‘Pay-as-you-go’ facility which lowers down the cost and increases predictability of IT-spending with no upfront commitments or no long-term/short-term contracts. With ‘Pay-as-you-go’ facility, retailers can adapt to the changing business needs and not on forecasts, which drastically reduces the risk of over positioning or missing capacity. Moreover, retailers do not have to worry about in-house maintenance, management and support costs which saves much of the bucks and can focus on adding value to the business. Delivers quick service across multiple channels AWS provides computing and storage resources on-demand which certainly reduces the time the needed to develop and launch & deliver new services. As AWS uses CDN (Content Distribution Network) called cloud front, retailers can deliver a faster experience for customers which increases the agility for the organization. AWS has a global footprint, which means content can be served to the customers locally. AWS cloud helps the retailers to meet the customer’s demand and provide consistent service and personalized experience across multiple channels be it’s a mobile shopping or social networks. Increases digital customer engagement The customer expects to engage with your brand at multiple touchpoints throughout the customer’s journey. So, to understand the customer in a better way, AWS provides the most comprehensive, secure, scalable and cost-effective portfolio that enables the retailers to build the data lake to analyze all your data with different analytical approaches. With AWS, retailers can use machine-learning, facial recognition, and other AI capabilities to interact with the customers by offering them a personalized experience. With specialized tools, retailers can provide personalized promotion campaigns by using the data from the POS system, database, loyalty programs etc. at a lower cost. Spans application across the globe/ go global in minutes The AWS cloud infrastructure helps to deploy your application across the world in multiple regions within just a few clicks. The AWS cloud is spread over 55 availability zones within 18 geographic regions and one local region around the world. The AWS infrastructure is built around Regions: Each data center is called a region. It provides multiple, separated and isolated availability zones or Azs. Availability zones: It is inexpensive and is connected with low latency, high throughput and provides highly redundant networking. By launching instances in separate AZs, you can protect your applications from failure of a single location. Retailers who look to replicate their applications over greater geographic distances; they can grab the opportunity of AWS local regions. It is a single datacenter designed to complement the existing AWS region. Managed Database services Most of the applications need terabyte to petabytes of data to get access in millisecond latency, process millions of request per second and requires scaling to support millions of users across the world. To support this, retailers requires relational and non-relational databases to handle specific need of the application. AWS offers wide-range of databases that can support all types of application. It ’s managed database service includes Dynamo DB, Relational Database service, RedShift etc. and it is cost-effective, easy to set up, operate and scale. AWS database service helps the retailers to deploy and streamline the workflow and simplify the overall process. Increase security AWS cloud is certified as a compliant offering the broadest security across the globe. AWS security is developed in accordance with the industry’s highest security standard norms and conducts regular and thorough audits to demonstrate the security of its infrastructure. It utilizes an end-to-end approach to secure infrastructure including physical, operational and software measures. AWS infrastructures and services include compute, storage databases and network services are trailed for security on six monthly bases. Moreover, retailer’s data is never transformed to AWS infrastructure in other regions for data protection. Real World Use-Cases Customer Story: abof “We have achieved 99.999 percent infrastructure availability with AWS, and an average page loading time of around 1.5 seconds. This ensures our online store is constantly available for customers, limiting the risk of a poor experience.“ Mahesh Tiyyagura Chief Technology Officer The Aditya Birla Online Fashion (abof) is one of the largest e-commerce ventures of Aditya Birla. The abof online fashion store dominated the e-commerce industry by using physical servers, storage and network in an on-premise datacenter because of scalability. After certain years, the company started growing and they predicted that the demand would spike during events or sales. So, to cope up with it they required to compute, storage, inexpensive, scalable and associated resources to manage the traffic. Aditya Birla had chosen AWS due to the great array of services it provides. Today, the store infrastructure operates in the AWS Asia-pacific (Singapore region) and uses multiple availability zones for redundancy. The company is also using the AWS support and enterprise support plan to address issues that arise with its infrastructure. The CEO says “AWS infrastructure supported the peaks without manual intervention with no reduction in the performance or availability to our customers”. Customer Story: Kurt Geiger “If we want to start whole server architecture in Sydney, we just operate the API for the Sydney data center, and it’s just created there in the same way it would in Ireland or the United States or anywhere else. Using AWS makes it easy for us to expand internationally, which will lead to more sales.” Adam Bidwell Development Manager Kurt Geiger sells luxury brand shoes and accessories via three major retail websites. As the brand gained the popularity, its collocation data center struggled to scale website during peak traffic. They tried different alternatives but due to the limitations in the servers, it restricted the number of orders the company would take which ultimately affected their bottom line. Finding that, AWS offered high-end services, the company migrated their existing websites to the AWS cloud. After using AWS, Kurt Geiger was able to handle more than 400 % customers in a day, twice as many as transactions and load time decreased to 2 to 3 seconds, regardless of the traffic. Bidwell says, “The pay-as-you-go billing made it easy for us to go from research and development to production.” Customer Story: Red Mart “The only thing that matters to us is latency and, with AWS, we’ve been able to maintain it at 10 milliseconds.” Rajesh Lingappa Chief Technology Officer RedMart is a Singapore-based online supermarket chain that has their own transportation fleet for door-to-door delivery across the country. The company’s actual stock was stored in the large warehouse in Singapore. There was a need for some way to pick the products from shelves without losing time to latency issues. The two servers struggled and RedMart needed a solution that would support not only the depiction of its product online, but also provide quick delivery benefits to the customers. The company considered using cloud-based solution- Amazon web service and was amazed with the pricing, scalability options, and several ready-made APIs to keep the business running. RedMart’s ordered increased 15%-20% each month, peaking at approximately 4000 orders a day. Rajesh says, “We no longer have to memorize where to find thousands of different things. This made it easier to train new personnel and keep our warehouse operations smooth and swift.” Pitfalls of using AWS There’s no argument that AWS has revolutionized the way companies consume IT. But, that doesn’t mean the process of buying and managing AWS’s offering is easy. Any purchase is fraught with pitfalls. AWS does not include enterprise-grade support by default. Customers will need to buy Business tier support for this, which carries up to a 10% premium on the customer’s overall AWS spend AWS lacks customer support, gearing toward a more technically savvy group of consumers and/or those with access to tech support. The number of choices can be confusing to those who may not speak the language of technology. Whatever the specific requirement is, AWS can help the retailers to achieve the optimal blend of in-house and cloud-based services without any hassle. Conclusion Retailers understand the importance of the cloud but worry about using a cloud or on-premise infrastructure. With these comprehensive benefits that Cloud is offering for small business, it is no wonder that service is highly successful. AWS is the fast, flexible, secure and budget-friendly solution for the retailers who are looking to develop cloud storage solution or application host. Most of the retailers are taking advantage of these services to innovate their business and provide uniqueness in their customer services. With such commitments and innovation, AWS is surely the perfect choice for the retailers.