Hyperscaling for the ecommerce platform of the future
Dave Ricketts, head of marketing, Six Degrees
If you work in online retail, you’ll know how quickly the ecommerce goal posts can change, particularly ones related to consumer buying behaviour. Just as you think you have a handle on a trend, the next one comes along and renders your previous approach obsolete.
Add to this the increase in seasonal shopping behaviours, and you may well start to feel that your website, so slick and on-trend today, will be out-dated and ‘old-school’ by tomorrow. In the world of ecommerce where the only constant is change, is there a solution to this dilemma?
Why traditional ecommerce platforms have become redundant
The systems on which ecommerce sites have traditionally been built, which include every component of the online retail process, from browsing to payment to delivery, have become clumsy and awkward. An increase in scale needs investment and connection by a business in new servers, while a faulty section in one part of the structure can inadvertently down the whole system. It’s also hard to bring innovation into an existing infrastructure, and can end up costing more than the anticipated increase in revenue.
In particular, using one system for an entire platform presents these key issues:
- Servers must be able to manage huge spikes in demand, while potentially doing much less activity outside of these periods. That’s not very efficient or cost effective.
- As many retailers expand globally, a platform that sits on servers and hosted in one country can’t necessarily provide the speed and reliability expected by consumers based in another country.
- If servers crash, there’s no easy comeback and can result in a potential loss of income and reputation.
Consumer behaviour and the role of data in the ecommerce environment
Today’s consumer has an increasing desire to be treated as unique, with their preferences, needs and shopping behaviours considered. New and sometimes subtle changes in consumer behaviour mean we must move with the times and adapt how and what we measure accordingly. As an example, an approach built more than 10 years ago that is used to track web usage is no longer accurate or robust enough to measure behaviour such as app multi-tasking or complex consumer mobile journeys.
Additionally, in order to offer tailor-made products and services to consumers, retailers must be able to mine data, albeit within the perimeters of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
So it’s very clear that the ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach of the previous ecommerce platforms no longer applies. But, to build a customised solution is a massive undertaking, involving huge teams of skilled developers who will commit to developing and redeveloping the platform to stay head of the curve. Not a good use of a company’s time, resources and of course budget.
Hyperscale using cloud-based services
The solution lies in hyperscale ecommerce using cloud-based services. This approach is all about breaking the ecommerce platform into smaller chunks that are more manageable, and therefore ultimately also cheaper compared to one huge system that can quickly become out-dated.
Hyperscale ecommerce, driven by cloud-based services, operates according to the rationale that managing the various functions separately allows them to be developed, maintained, expanded/replaced without a knock-on effect to the other parts. The whole system becomes more robust, more scalable and more flexible, automatically making it more adaptable to your specific needs and those of your customers.
One very sensible way to make this transition is to work with an external partner who offers best-of-breed cloud services, with the infrastructure and expertise to provide you with the flexibility, scalability and performance you need. If you opt to outsource, make sure your preferred CSP is equipped to provide best-fit workload location and hybrid cloud integration with public hyperscale infrastructure. Additionally, your partner’s cloud services should be backed up by 24/7 monitoring and technical support, giving you access to expertise whenever you need it.
While it’s true that consumer wants and needs will always dictate the nature of ecommerce, the answer is not to go bigger. Breaking up the ecommerce platform ‘behemoth’ into manageable portions, and accessing the abundance of consumer data that’s available to access deeper insights into customer behaviours, will empower you and your ecommerce business to reap the financial benefits of what you’ve sown, faster and more efficiently.