AWS For E-Commerce & Online Retailers: Sky’s The Limit. Agree?

Many retailers and e-commerce giants migrated their core applications to Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud including Nordstrom, Instacart, Snapdeal, etc. But why did they migrate to AWS Cloud, which is promoted by Amazon, one of their biggest rivals in the eCommerce business itself? For a digital business like e-commerce and online retail, the underlying technology is mission critical to interact, engage and sell to customers. Thus, they look for a reliable cloud platform that is flexible, secure, highly scalable, globally available and cost-effective. And, reassuringly, many have found AWS for e-commerce an ideal match and a perfect platform. Are you contemplating AWS for your e-commerce business? You are in the right place. Read on how sky’s the limit for e-commerce companies on AWS.

Cloud Solutions For E-Commerce and Online Retail Business

Amazon pioneered the cloud computing industry, i.e. computing as a utility, and it is the market leader by a vast margin even though many pure technology platform providers like Microsoft, IBM, Oracle, and Google have joined the fray. If we delve deeper, we notice that the core design and evolution of every cloud offering reflects the evolution of its parent company’s technology strengths, key customer segments, etc.

For example,  Microsoft’s Azure platform provides features that are convincing to SMBs, their core customer base for years. However, many of AWS’ product offerings such as AWS S3, AWS DynamoDB, auto-scaling, etc. make more sense when we look at them from e-commerce and online retail computing use case point of view. Why is this so?

Most of the AWS product offerings are based on the best practices and learnings gained by Amazon’s technology team as they have been managing one of the largest e-commerce websites. One of the first NoSQL database technology was designed by Amazon to develop a very efficient product catalog service, which is the fundamental technology component of any e-commerce and online retail website. Just as NoSQL is embraced by developers across application domains and uses cases, AWS for e-commerce and online retail is an ideal cloud solution even though embraced by the entire business industry for many other use cases. However, challenges remain for businesses in adopting the cloud platforms. The best way forward is to leverage and build on a strong architecture provided by AWS for online retail applications.

AWS Architecture for E-Commerce

Effective cataloging is the first building block of an e-commerce business to be successful. Maintaining an e-commerce website encompassing a vast product catalog and customer base can be daunting. In addition, the catalog should be searchable, and individual product pages should contain a rich information set that includes, for example, images and customer reviews.

In today’s highly-connected world, online demand can often reach new peaks through social awareness of deals or offers. Consumers are impatient, and their expectations for swift access to catalogs is increasing.  Any availability or performance issues in the catalog can affect your brand, conversions, sales and ultimately your top line performance.

The essential part of running an e-commerce business in the cloud is the architecture and application engineering that will allow the computing resources that power the catalog to scale up and scale down efficiently to avoid unnecessary costs. With the proper auto-scaling configuration and management, your business can handle millions of catalog views as well as hundreds of thousands of orders seamlessly to meet your top line objectives.

To help e-commerce organizations get their configuration and architecture, AWS cloud provides ready-to-usee-commerce architecture blueprints in the form of AWS CloudFormation templates. These templates can be launched with a click of a button to provision highly scalable and available infrastructure for hosting your online retail business.

Moreover, e-commerce software platform providers like Magento have also published versions of their software that are fine tuned for these AWS for e-commerce architecture blueprints.  

With AWS, building a highly available e-commerce website with a flexible product catalog that scales with your business is a piece of cake.

Maintaining Security and Regulatory Compliance For E-Commerce Business

The e-commerce checkout service is the next critical building block for any online retail business. Managing the checkout process involves many steps and workflows, which have to be coordinated. In addition, few steps like credit card transactions and purchase history are subject to specific regulatory requirements. Moreover, customers expect their private data, such as their order history, personal information and credit card information, must be managed on a secure infrastructure and compliant application stack.

To help online business enterprises accomplish security and regulatory compliance, Amazon provides a secure and certified cloud infrastructure for e-commerce applications. This infrastructure allows them to build application layers over it without having to work much on the security of the lower layers like network, compute and storage, etc. For the reason that: AWS has obtained multiple security certifications relevant to e-commerce business, including the Payment Cards Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard (DSS), for these lower layers.

Even though AWS is not responsible for the application level security of any system built on AWS as per its Shared Responsibility Model, it, however, provides many tools to facilitate the enforcement of security best practices. Some of these are audit tools like web-application-firewalls, compliance ‘checkers,’ etc.

In addition, AWS regularly publishes security best practice documentation based on its customer experience. With the tools that AWS provides, one can build a secure checkout service to manage the purchasing workflow from order to fulfillment. Do read our blog on 6 AWS Cloud Security Best Practices for Dummies to know the basics of security on AWS.

AWS Cloud Platform: A complete e-commerce cloud solution for online businesses

Even though search, catalog, and checkout services are the basic building blocks of an e-commerce businesses, it is the custom business logic that differentiates them from one another. It is these software components that an e-commerce enterprise has to custom develop.

Additionally, DevOps process and culture is very critical as new features have to be deployed every day to support user needs. And for efficient DevOps, AWS for e-commerce provides BeanStalk, Elastic Container Service, CodeDeploy, and CodePipeline.

Further, these AWS services can be used to deploy all front-end and back-end services, including consumer-facing websites, APIs, mobile e-commerce applications, internal order processing tools, end-user messaging infrastructure, and online order processing systems. Moreover, it works with your existing continuous integration and delivery pipeline setup. Do read Botmetric blog on DevOps In AWS Cloud Is A Match Made In Heaven to know how AWS simplifies DevOps process.

When an e-commerce or online retail company adopts AWS, it not only gets the secure, globally available and highly scalable infrastructure to support the core product catalog and checkout service, it also gets a complete Amazon cloud infrastructure for deploying e-commerce business.

In short, AWS helps allocate key IT resources easily to focus more on innovation and digital transformation rather than managing the underlying infrastructure.

Do share your thoughts with us on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn and tell us whether you agree that sky’s the limit for e-commerce companies on AWS. If you are already on AWS and are finding managing it overwhelming, then try Botmetric, a comprehensive cloud management platform to optimize AWS for cost, security, and DevOps. Do read Botmetric blog on 4 Ways to Tackle the AWS Cloud Management Complexity with a Right-sized Admin Console to know how a cloud management platform can come in handy for day-today cloud operations.