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Capstone Project – PG Program in Cloud Computing

What does an online store need for brand positioning?

Online presence of the business opens diverse channels for connecting with the target customers and generates new avenues of high profitable growth. However, the growth and profit are directly associated with appropriate business planning and well-laid strategy. 

There are different types of E-commerce businesses operating today. Even though the business model of each business is different, the major challenges faced by them are common like availability and scalability of the platform, security oversight, limited reporting, etc. Paying exorbitantly for basic functionality and unreliable hosting of services, data security is a big concern, complicated configuration and plugin setup for non-technical people, restraint over the platform, inefficiency in website performance – Our business strategy is designed to address each of these with careful analysis.

What disadvantages do online marketplaces like Amazon have as selling platforms?

When a retailer turns his attention to online selling for the first time, it is a common strategy to start as an Amazon seller or register as a seller on other online platforms. However, selling on the online marketplaces has consequences, along with all the known benefits. For example, on Amazon, the competition between the sellers is brutal. There are several sellers listing similar kind of inventory, competing on quality, price and brand name. In view of the extensive availability of inventory, brand loyalty is very hard to accomplish. The ladder of brand positioning, brand identity, and brand equity is long and arduous to mount.

BYBO’s (Build Your Brand Online) goal for customers?

BYBO will position a brand, build ‘Brand Identity’, and establish ‘Brand Equity’ for a business or enterprise. What does one need in order to accomplish this? – An E-commerce platform with a look and feel that reflects your ‘Brand’s Personality’, is easy to navigate and understand, grabs attention, and inspires the users’ perception of the products. It is a platform that gives the business control of design, integration of marketing channels, inventory control, and flexibility to campaign products.

The proposed platform is based on enabling an e-Commerce platform at different scales. BYBO has the potential to power up 800,000 stores with over 1 million active users generating over 100 billion USD sales within 10 years. BYBO (Build Your Brand Online) team proposes to establish a platform to enable retailers to turn to online selling on their own platform. 

How BYBO enables customers?

BYBO has various features as listed:

  1. BYBO Modular Product component architecture – Themes or Portal templates, Inventory, Billing, e-Cart, Reports, Analytics and more.
  2. Shopping Cart Abandonment prevention – Live chat, Scheduled emails.
  3. Reporting functionality – Visitor Segmentation and Buying behaviour.
  4. High availability – Automatic backups and Disaster Recovery.
  5. Auto Scaling – Hosting environment scales up/down as per end-user traffic.
  6. Content Caching and accelerated Content Distribution – AWS CloudFront.
  7. Built-in security and HTTPS Certificate Manager – AWS Web Application Firewall (WAF), Guard against DDoS attacks, SQL injections, etc.
  8. Notification schedule, Mailing lists setup, SMS messages for automated notifications, Email marketing, Direct sales, etc. – Amazon Simple Email Service (SES), Simple Notification Service (SNS).
  9. Blog integration – WordPress Integration. Omnichannel customer experience – for product promotion and direct consumer interaction.
  10. Loyalty program integration – Perform deep analytics on frequent buyers and design campaigns to motivate buyers to purchase more with a perception of higher value return. 
  11. Inventory planning – Establish campaigns to reach out to loyal customers and maintain inventory using models such as ABC analysis of inventory control. Classify the inventory into high consumption value material vs. low consumption value. This helps to achieve appropriate inventory planning and forecasting.

Basic Logical Flow of the Process 

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Technology working behind the scenes

In order to enable BYBO architecture, we have used appropriate AWS components to account for the cost and profitability.

We will use AWS components as:

  • Route53 – User’s DNS requests are served by Amazon Route 53, a highly available Domain Name System (DNS) service. Each Customer would need their own domain URL.
  • Simple Storage Service(S3) – Resources and static content used by the web application are stored on Amazon S3. S3 would host the BYBO brand website.
  • Cloud Front – Static, streaming, and dynamic content is delivered by Amazon Cloud Front, a content delivery network (CDN). Requests are automatically routed to the nearest edge location, so content is delivered with the best possible performance. Would provide low latency and high performance to the end clients in different locations throughout the world.
  • EC2 – The open cart application will be deployed on the EC2 server.
  • Containers – Docker containers allow us to easily run and scale containerised applications on AWS. Customers with requirements where they would have unpredictable traffic to their website the containers would provide a highly scalable website and optimum utilisation, at a relatively lower cost.
  • Elastic Load Balancer – HTTP requests are first handled by Elastic Load Balancing (ELB), which automatically distributes incoming application traffic among multiple Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) instances across Availability Zones (AZs). This would help with the uniform distribution of load among the EC2 instances/containers.
  • VPC/Subnets – Each Customer would have a custom VPC. 
  • Amazon RDS – Provides high availability. The relational database that contains the application’s data is hosted redundantly on a Multiple Availability Zone (Multi-AZ) deployment of Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS). This will provide benefits like high redundancy with Multi-AZ deployment and highly scalable database which would be needed as the customer base increases.
  • API Gateway – Amazon API Gateway is an AWS service for creating, publishing, maintaining, monitoring, and securing REST and WebSocket APIs at any scale. Using API gateways Lambda functions can be exposed for sending email notifications from retailers to the admin.
  • Lambda – AWS Lambda lets you run code without provisioning or managing servers. You pay only for the compute time you consume – there is no charge when your code is not running. Lambda functions would be needed to send emails from retailers to the admin.
  • Amazon SES – Will be used to sending admin notifications.
  • Amazon Quicksight – Amazon Quicksight to easily create and publish interactive dashboards. Dashboards can be embedded into applications, portals, and websites.
  • Amazon Web Application Firewall (WAF) – Helps protect web applications or APIs against common web exploits that may affect availability, compromise security, or consume excessive resources.

The technical stack comprises of – Linux, Apache, MySQL/MariaDB, PHP, NodeJS

Quicksight analytics sample:

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BYBO Admin Panel

BYBO (powered by OpenCart) administration side of the store is where you can modify features, upload images, add products, keep track of customers, manage payments, and much more. Customisation in the admin affects how the customer will interact with a store: by modifying the look, structure, and content of the storefront.

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The dashboard is the first thing you will see when entering the admin panel. The main function of the dashboard is to give the shop owner an overview of how the shop is performing. There are 3 sections of the dashboard that can help you understand the statistical data collected by your store:

  1. Overview: There are four charts showing the status of your website. They are total orders, total sales, total customers and people online which simplify the analytics for you.
  2. World Map: A world map to show where the orders from your website are coming from.
  3. Sales Analytics: A graph is provided to track the chronological progress of the store relative to the number of orders and customers over time. The ‘x’ value is time, which can be hours, days, or months depending on the range selected. The ‘’y value displays the number of total orders (yellow) and total customers (blue).
  4. Recent Activity: A section to check the recent activity from any customer from your store such as login, creating an account or placing new orders.
  5. Latest Orders: A list that displays the last orders and their details (“Order ID”, “Customer”, “Status”, “Date Added”, “Total”, and “Action”). 

On the side of the dashboard is administration navigation. You can navigate between the “Catalog”, “Extensions”, “Sales”, “Vendors”, “Marketing”, “System”, “Reports”, and “Tools” sections. 

All these options allow you to – manage Storefront, Shopping cart, Store management – customer profiles/ accounts/ email templates, Marketing – loyalty program/ gift cards/ discounts/ social media integration, Products – inventory management/ product listing/ product organisation and grouping/ product tags/ listing export and import/ mobile responsiveness and analytics. 

BYBO Plugin Store

The commonly asked for enhancements will be built-into plugins and hosted on BYBO Plugin store. The site administrator will be able to integrate the feature on his portal using the BYBO admin panel.

Conclusion

If you are a seller and don’t have an online platform of your own, reach out to us to build your own brand online.

The key benefits of BYBO are:

  • BYBO’s most important features are that you could set up your own e-Commerce web application from the ground up and make it live quickly – “Just in time” strategy.
  • BYBO will help you to position your brand and establish your brand equity. 
  • BYBO will provide you with a platform that will give you control of design, integration with your marketing channels, inventory control and flexibility to campaign your products.
  • BYBO will help you to enable your e-Commerce platform at different scales. BYBO will enable retailers to turn to online selling on their own platform. 
  • The e-retailers’ business will be capable to operate Globally and scale as the user base will expand.
  • The e-retailers’ platform will ensure high availability – the e-Commerce application will have no time barrier.
  • The e-retailer will have complete control over the product listing – buyer decisions.
  • BYBO will enable better targeting, product recommendation system and more customisations through deep insightsAnalytics.
  • BYBO will enable better decision making through highly visible customer feedback and product comparisons.
  • BYBO will enable user traffic consolidation from different traffic streams through social media channel integration.

Lessons learnt

  • AWS Cloud improves operational efficiency – enterprises can network, have central and reliable data access which promotes increased collaboration and eventually improved efficiency.
  • Advanced and updated software – AWS cloud computing services enables to implement the latest and up-to-date applications. You get to be at the forefront using updated software including security updates for business operations. 
  • Infrastructure as a Code benefit – Use CloudFormation or Terraform for repeatability, knowledge sharing, version control and security verification.
  • Event-driven architecture pattern in AWS Lambda – Benefit is that unless the state is changed, no infrastructure is required, no machine is left in idle mode.
  • Keep credentials safely – Never accidentally include AWS credentials in source code committed to a Git software repository that is publicly accessible.
  • Use API Gateway in front of Lambda – Amazon API Gateway handles all the tasks involved in accepting and processing up to hundreds of thousands of concurrent API calls, including traffic management, authorisation and access control, monitoring, and API version management.
  • Automation is the key – Developing software services that need to be operated is radically different from building software that needs to be shipped to customers. Managing systems at scale require a very different mindset to ensure that we meet the reliability, performance, and scalability expectations of our customers.
  • Know your resource usage – When building a financial model for service to identify the appropriate charging model, be sure to have good quality relevant data on the cost of the service and its operations, especially for running a high volume – low margin business.
  • Build security from the ground up – Protecting your customers should always be the number one priority from both an operational perspective as well as tools and mechanisms. It is necessary to integrate security at the very beginning of service design.

Author Details

Supriya Aggarwal Dixit

Supriya is a high achieving leader, creative problem solver, convincing communicator, and capable of working through challenges. She has spearheaded several end-to-end software development projects, simplified the complex business situations with innovative approaches, transformed the legacy processes to fulfil today’s requirements, and led cross-functional, virtual, multi-location teams in her career. She gas 12+ years of experience in IT domain, Cloud Computing, Object Oriented Design, Distributed Systems, People Management, Project management, Oracle Database Development, Application Development, PL/SQL programming, Java programming, HTML/CSS/JavaScript programming, Pre-Sales and Marketing, Web Development, System design, implementation and management. Commanding knowledge of various development methodologies like TDD, Waterfall and Agile etc. 

Thomas Paulose

Technology Lead with over 12 years of experience working in asset management, private banking and wealth management firms. His core skill set is in Java and Web Technologies and is a rookie in Cloud computing. Thomas loves travelling and is passionate about photography.

Selvakumar Rengasamy

Selvakumar is an IT professional with extensive experience in architecting and developing insurance solutions to multiple clients across the globe. He is an aspiring cloud architect with very good knowledge in AWS EC2, VPC, Managed Services, DynamoDB, Lambda and cloud DevOps. Hands-on experience in Guidewire Insurance Suite – Claim Center & Policy Center – 8, 9, 10.x. He also has experience in handling Java/J2EE development projects and has exposure to Angular platform.

Kotteeswaran Jagadeesan

Kotteeswaran has 17+ years of experience in the IT industry and played various roles in the areas including project management including project creation/extension, budget creation, milestone restructuring, billing, BIA, resource management, customer management, GOP analysis, DVI analysis, CM improvement, SLA tracking, Bell Curve management, cost-saving innovation, RPA recommendations etc. He has also handled various applications in AWS cloud, Internet/Intranet technology, client-server, distributed and multi-tier architecture in .NET technologies.

If you wish to pursue a career in cloud technologies, upskill with Great Learning’s PG program in Cloud Computing.

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1 COMMENT

  1. While the concept is good. It becomes confusing if the solution is overall enablement to get online to the cloud platform or develop a packaged eCommerce solution with end to end analytics. But a good concept !

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