How IaaS helps trading companies: retail cases

    Recently, we talked about how the business of goods delivery is changing - the growth of the e-commerce segment poses new challenges for it, many of which IaaS can handle. Today we will continue to talk about retail and see who uses virtual infrastructure and how . / Photo by jenny.nash712 CC Today IaaS goes hand in hand with e-commerce. According to Accenture's analytical data , the volume of investments in this area from 2011 to 2016 increased by 4 times - up to $ 15 billion. The largest retailers are not just betting on virtual infrastructure, but are rebuilding their business models based on the implementation of IaaS. There are several reasons for this.






    Availability level


    Ian Bristow, founder of the online store Fusion, one of Britain’s oldest online retailers in the sports apparel and accessories segment, told how his company moved to the cloud. As the customer base grew, the company independently increased the capacity of IT infrastructure, but faced with the problem of the availability of store sites for various segments of the audience.

    Ian notes that low availability, particularly on mobile platforms, led to the loss of more than 53% of visitors. Of course, the transition to IaaS alone could not be an automatic solution to this problem, so the company used the expertise of the IaaS provider to analyze the situation and gradually move to the “cloud”.

    Much of Callaway Golf’s IT infrastructure, a major manufacturer and marketer of premium golf products, was physical until 2009 . Data centers were located in different states, it was difficult to service them and work with data. At the same time, the company conducts business both abroad. Weekly server maintenance led to the downtime of some foreign offices.

    It was decided to transfer part of the workloads to the cloud. This has helped reduce costs and ensure high availability. In addition, it was possible to achieve savings of more than 300 thousand dollars a year on equipment.


    / Photo Polycart CC

    In retail, the availability of not only online storefronts, but also information on inventory is important. Argos, a large British retailer managing a network of 850 traditional stores, an online store and a mobile application, provides cloud-based solutions to staff and customers with real-time stock and delivery information.

    Due to the large number of available channels, customers have a choice of where and how to pick up goods - in one of the large centers, in a small store nearby or order delivery. Accurate information reduces cases of unaccounted sales, which ultimately saves time and money of buyers and retailers.

    Another process in which a high level of accessibility is important is the back office. FitnessBar.ru, a sports nutrition retailer, for a long time managed only one warehouse and an online store, but once decided to grow into a retail chain. Before the stores opened, the company managed with one server room. With going offline and increasing workload, new challenges appeared, such as providing shared access to goods accounting systems. Instead of buying additional equipment, FitnessBar.ru chose the IT-GRAD cloud environment. The migration was carried out in one evening, and the retailer continued to scale the business, while maintaining a high level of accessibility of all services and the smooth operation of stores.

    Work with advisory services


    ASOS, a large online clothing and accessories store, has been operating since 2000. In 2016, his leadership decided to transfer part of the tasks to the virtual infrastructure. One of them is the collection and processing of data for advisory services.

    The store has more than 85 thousand products in its assortment, and a personal recommendation system is designed to help customers find suitable offers and combine products with each other. Here, the virtual infrastructure is used to store customer profile data. The ASOS recommendation platform supports a number of machine learning models to calculate the relevance of a product and the likelihood that a visitor will be interested in it, whether it will be saved to the basket, and bought in the long run. The cloud database is responsible for making such calculations take milliseconds.


    / Photo by perzon seo CC

    German retailer Lesara usesinternal recommendation systems. Analyzing information from a large number of sources, including from search queries and social networks, helps him make decisions about what clothes he will produce and sell.

    Head of Lesara Roman Kirsch says : “We not only know what new styles are popular now, but we can also determine which retro trends are returning, which styles are no longer relevant, and this helps us to clearly manage our products.” With all these tasks, Lesara helps the IaaS cope.

    Operating activities


    The growth of the online retailer segment affects the operation of ordinary stores. Sales in US department stores from the year 2000 to 2016 decreased by a third . Therefore, many traditional stores turn into omni- and multi-channel - that is, they are present both online and offline at the same time. This entails the adoption of new technologies. In particular, it is expected that by 2020 the penetration of cloud technologies in retail will be 70%. Already, many companies use IaaS in their business. And here's how:

    • Payment systems. The US Nordstrom department store chain , which runs hundreds of stores in most states, launched the cloud - based POS system last year . This approach allows you to quickly serve customers and effectively use data - information on inventories and popularity of product groups, customer information. IaaS in this case allows customers to work with any platform - a web version of a retailer’s site or a mobile application.
    • Communication. A large network of Russian children's toy stores “Hamleys World” operates using virtual infrastructure. Dozens of sales departments are connected in working groups around a single IaaS platform. Several communication channels were also placed in the IT-GRAD cloud: mail, cloud telephony, support line, internal corporate communications. This eliminates the problem of the geographical fragmentation of stores - all employees remain connected - and allows centralized control of processes.

    In the Pets at Home pet product network, they decided to bring the Sales Assist application to the cloud for salespersons and consultants to communicate with the cloud . It links the data of several hundred stores with the application. So buyers can get accurate information about the range and choose the right point of sale.

    Business scaling


    Dixons Carphone, Europe’s largest telecommunications retailer and electrical seller, was formed in 2014 after the merger of Dixons Retail and Carphone Warehouse.

    The new group immediately had the problem of an inefficient IT infrastructure - even before the merger, both outdated systems were rather cumbersome and became less and less efficient in maintenance. As a solution, the new group of companies chose a hybrid cloud environment, combining a private network for back-office with a public one - for client-oriented applications.

    / Photo by JD Hancock CC

    Another example of the “virtualization” of a complex system is the RailCommerce electronic trading platform Wagon Exchange. The key factor in this case is scaling again. It is of great importance in the case of marketplaces for goods and services.

    The cloud allows the exchange to dynamically increase the system nodes for various functions when such requirements arise. In addition, RailCommerce operates in two countries - Russia and Kazakhstan - therefore, the company must actually comply with two data protection laws. IT GRAD helped RailCommerce solve this problem.



    PS What we write about in the First Corporate IaaS Blog:


    PPS A couple of posts on the topic from the blog on Habré:


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