Founded in 2010, India-based Chumbak launched its retail business selling its own apparel and home décor items. Known for its distinctive designs and bright colors, the company has broadened its range of products in the last five years. Today, it offers a Chumbak consumer-lifestyle range, which features souvenirs, stationery, phone cases, jewelry, laptop sleeves, bags, and clothing. There are more than 2,000 Chumbak products available through 15 stores across India, and the company’s web store.
By using AWS, we avoid the cost of a full-time IT administrator and can focus 100% on mobile and web product development.”Karthikeyan NG
Head of Technology, Chumbak
Increasingly, Chumbak sells more of its products via its web store. “Within the next 12 months, at least 50 percent of our sales will be online,” says Karthikeyan NG, head of technology at Chumbak. With the web store generating more revenue, Chumbak needs to make sure the site continues to meet its two goals: delivering a great user experience and encouraging customer loyalty.
The user experience depends heavily on the infrastructure behind the web store. The infrastructure needs to scale easily so site performance isn’t compromised by sudden increases in traffic. It’s also important for Chumbak, which doesn’t have the resources for large IT investments, to work with a cloud provider that offers “pay-as-you-grow” services. The Chumbak IT team also needs an infrastructure that is easy to work with. “We follow the approach of ‘Move fast and break things’, which requires us to update the site code every day, hence we must be able to work efficiently. We can’t afford for IT staff to be working on infrastructure maintenance. Furthermore, we can’t have our developers spending more time on scaling the backend infrastructure,” says Karthikeyan.
Why Amazon Web Services
Chumbak has been working with Amazon Web Services (AWS) since it began developing its web store. Initially, the company looked at Microsoft Azure and AWS as possible providers. Says Karthikeyan, “We chose AWS because its technology and offerings aligned more closely with our IT strategy to utilize most of the services provided by Amazon.”
When the engagement with AWS began, Chumbak qualified for AWS Activate, which provides startups with low-cost, easy-to-use cloud computing resources. It meant Chumbak received training in AWS foundational infrastructure services such as Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), Auto Scaling, and Elastic Load Balancing. “Using our knowledge of AWS services and AWS regions and Availability Zones design concepts, we built our web store on AWS without much hassle,” says Karthikeyan.
Since 2013, Chumbak has increased its use of AWS services. This includes Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS), which the company uses to oversee time-consuming database administration tasks. AWS also now offers services that help Chumbak improve the web store’s user experience. The business uses AWS Lambda and Amazon Kinesis to capture and process web-store clickstreams in real time. When a web-store visitor clicks on a product, it triggers AWS Lambda, which pushes the clickstream data into Amazon Kinesis. From there, the data goes into an Amazon DynamoDB database to find the visitor’s product history, which then appears on-screen to the visitor with imagery pulled from Amazon S3.
Looking ahead, Karthikeyan plans to use AWS to support an analytics team that he is developing. “We will use analytics to help drive web-store revenues and develop our product lines,” he says.
Chumbak can now dedicate its IT resources to development and avoids routine administration jobs with managed services such as Amazon RDS. “By using AWS, we avoid the cost of a full-time IT administrator and can focus 100 percent on mobile and web product development,” says Karthikeyan. “We can easily maintain a routine with AWS of deploying code every day without taking the web store offline.”
About twice a month, Chumbak runs campaigns to drive traffic to the web store, providing visitors with special offers on Chumbak products. “Using Auto Scaling, the backend infrastructure to the web store running on Amazon EC2 scales automatically to the level of web-store traffic,” says Karthikeyan. “Even though traffic can increase 10 times during a campaign, visitors won’t see a reduction in web-store performance because of the Auto Scaling service.”
AWS’ “pay-as-you-grow” capability enables Chumbak to avoid the need to make large IT investments upfront. The company hasn’t needed to build a data center with the capacity to handle sudden spikes in web-store traffic. By using AWS, Chumbak has on-demand infrastructure and pays only for the IT capacity the web store consumes.
Because of the success of the web store on AWS, Chumbak is considering migrating its business-critical, enterprise resource planning system to the AWS Cloud. Karthikeyan concludes, “Looking to the future, our strategy is going to be running all our IT systems on AWS.”