In this blog post we'll show you how an edge platform benefits the retail industry in practice and all the agents involved in the process: DevOps, businesses and users.
You’ll find out why the union between the retail industry and an edge platform is so successful.
The world is growing even more connected
The COVID-19 pandemic came to shake our certainties, to show us that what we take for granted can be drastically changed overnight. And one of the most impactful things it has done is to transform online customer behavior, which will undoubtedly never be the same again. What they look for, how they look for it, what they buy, when they buy and what they expect from the experiences, everything has changed! And let's face it, to a more demanding level than ever before.
What was the result of this? Remote work, new entertainment habits and the massive growth of internet-connected devices have accelerated and extended the digital transformation to every aspect of business and our lives. But despite the shock, as part of the human essence we have adapted – or are still adapting – to new scenarios and habits.
Therefore, the companies that most quickly adapt to these changes and offer what customers expect in terms of online experience, products and services, will certainly be the ones that will grow stronger and gain even more space and loyal customers – if this hasn't been your case yet, you will see here that it's still possible to change your situation.
According to Euromonitor International's Top 10 Global Consumer Trends 2021 report, companies must more than ever be aware of changes in customers' values and behavior and must prioritize and reinforce their demands.
We have selected here some of the main trends that apply to businesses of all sectors:
- Craving convenience: There is great pressure for companies to quickly adapt their operations, developing a more resilient customer experience while preserving convenience levels, maintaining agility and continuity of the purchase journey across all channels.
- Playing with time: in the era of immediacy, time has become a commodity and has never been so valued. Companies must propose solutions that meet the customers' desire to optimize their time, offering greater flexibility, especially with regard to products and services accessible from the customer's home or nearby.
- Safety obsessed: the fear of contagion has encouraged customers to seek solutions that don't require physical contact in order to avoid exposure. Furthermore, there's a huge concern about data theft in the online environment. Companies must implement strict biological and digital security measures aimed at mitigating customers' concerns.
- Thoughtful Thrifters: customers are more cautious and moderate with their finances, so they seek to obtain the best cost-benefit and prioritize value-added products and services. Companies must make value propositions, offering affordable options without reducing quality.
As you can see, flawless experiences, time savings, value-added products and security are must-haves for today's customers and the least companies should offer.
To overcome these challenges, companies have to take a series of measures that will directly impact their success, and one of them is to use technologies that will help to face and even eliminate these problems. One of the technological solutions that undoubtedly makes the difference in offering the best experiences in the online world is an edge platform, a fundamental part of our indispensable internet.
Challenges In The Retail Industry
Increased online sales
Many businesses were not yet online and had to quickly migrate to digital, or many that were already there did not have enough structure to meet the demand that grew rapidly in a short period of time. And the difference in the operations of an online store no doubt impacted those who weren't used to it, affecting supply chains, deliveries and customer service. The challenge here is to ensure availability of products or services and deliver resilient online experiences.
Greater demand from users
In addition to being present in the digital world, companies have had to deal with the growing demand from consumers for fast, flawless and secure online experiences. The millisecond difference defines whether or not the user abandons a brand, and making sure that credit card data will not be stolen is another deciding factor. In other words, the challenge here is: to survive in the digital world it's not enough to just have a website, it has to offer the best performance with total security.
The customers want to find the best product at the best price, so it's obvious that they will look for products that fit their criteria for best value for money. And the online world has come to facilitate this search. It's easier and faster to compare prices in online stores than in physical stores. This means that competition has become much fiercer and the challenge is to optimize spending throughout the production chain in order to offer a competitive price.
Azion Edge Platform: The Best and Most Modern Content Delivery Solution
Azion is an innovative company and is always attentive to market trends to serve its customers in the best way possible. That's why one of our primary focuses is to add value to your product or service with a series of features that optimize all the steps involved in the content distribution process and benefit all agents who participate in the process.
Azion's Edge Platform is full-stack, open, extensible and programmable, simplifying and streamlining the way you build software. Its edge computing technology is scalable, meaning Azion is responsible for the maintenance and administration of the infrastructure, dynamically allocating resources to meet the needs and demands of customers.
Furthermore, its architecture is decentralized and distributed, which makes it offer lower latency, more reliability and high scalability compared to legacy CDNs and even cloud computing solutions. It also allows for real-time data processing, which is critical for time-sensitive applications in critical areas. The sum of these factors reflects in a better performance, with a lower operating cost. And with over 65 global edge locations, you can orchestrate development across multi-cloud, on-premise or on remote devices.
Those who choose Azion's Edge Platform create a great competitive advantage and have numerous benefits. Just to give you an idea, some of them are:
- High availability for content and application delivery
- Very low latency
- Drastically reduced loading time
- Bandwidth savings
- Much more effective security
- Full observability
- Reduced operating costs
- Happy DevOps and Customers
The Benefits for DevOps
An important point to highlight is the improvement that Azion’s Edge Platform brings to the life of DevOps, who are there daily working behind the scenes and suffering directly from legacy systems. Furthermore, if it wasn't for them, businesses would have no products to offer and end users would have nothing to use or purchase.
The benefits are numerous, but some of them are:
- Observability: Most traditional CDNs don't provide DevOps with real-time observability, which makes it difficult to monitor the system, user behavior, and receive feedback – and this, of course, makes these professionals' jobs difficult. An edge platform, in turn, gives DevOps a full and complete view of the system in real time.
- Control: DevOps, when working with traditional CDNs, don't have control over configuration changes, which are the responsibility of the service provider. Furthermore, even the simplest changes can take a long time to be made, as they are also put in a queue. With an edge platform, DevOps have greater management and control, as well as more agility to apply changes via the management portal or API.
- Orchestration: DevOps can deploy, manage, control, monitor and update resources on the edge in real time, without the need for provisioning, and can integrate other services.
- Automation: Using SDN (Software-Defined Networking) makes it easy to use resources, so DevOps need only be concerned with creating and executing code and workloads on the edge; no provisioning, maintenance or operational tasks.
- Serverless model: the provider runs and manages servers and all infrastructure and resources, which eliminates scalability, planning, and maintenance tasks for DevOps.
- New use cases: the edge computing infrastructure facilitates the development of projects with modern technology, such as AI, AR, VR, IoT, machine learning, data and video streaming, 5G, and much more.
In addition to the benefits presented before, Azion goes a step further by offering a simpler, faster, yet complete customer journey that makes DevOps work easier, and delivers better business results.
See how easy it is to use an edge platform from start to finish:
1ˢᵗ Step: Build
Once you start using an edge platform, you can build, develop, launch, and scale applications without restrictions. At this point, you focus on creating the applications, defining the rules and parameters. Furthermore, in this phase you will build a scalable infrastructure with edge nodes, which can be remotely configured using zero-touch provisioning.
2ⁿᵈ Step: Secure
In this step, you will define application security issues at the edge – you can choose between Web Application Firewall, DDoS Protection and Network Layer Protection or all options simultaneously – which will allow you to track malicious traffic, isolate OWASP Top 10 threats, adapt to zero-day attacks, and much more.
3ʳᵈ Step: Deliver
After creating the applications on the edge platform, it's possible to deliver them from a global network. That is, at that point, you are ready to use the network, and the content is ready to be delivered. There is also the possibility of adding all the intelligence (or part of it) of an edge platform to your own infrastructure through orchestration solutions.
4ᵗʰ Step: Observe
While an edge platform delivers content, with data analytics solutions you can see exactly what's happening on your system and how your application users behave. That's because you have access to real-time data about the entire operation, from start to finish, which even allows you to predict events and prevent incidents.
Azion is trusted by leading companies in the market. See below how the case of Lojas Renner is an example of this successful partnership.
An excellent Black Friday performance made a big contribution to Lojas Renner’s results in the fourth quarter of 2019, where they recorded a net profit of BRL 513 million¹. The largest fashion retailer in the country achieved this by ensuring it could meet the performance, security and resilience requirements necessary for its applications and by pushing ahead with the company’s digital transformation.
Since then, Renner has continued to achieve notable results with its e-commerce platform:
- The rate of sales across Lojas Renner’s online platforms increased during the Covid-19 pandemic and, even after physical stores reopened, has continued to see triple-digit growth.
- The Renner App has been outstanding. In the second quarter of this year, for example, the number of downloads increased by 259%.
- The app’s share of revenue has also grown and already constitutes about half of all online sales.
There were two important objectives in this development: to exceed the expectations of the millions of individual monthly visitors and to support large spikes in access. These objectives ensure the system will be ready to meet future demand, given that:
- by 2023, there will be 520 million people using mobile devices in Latin America: 38 million more than in 2018 (an increase of about 8%)²;
- by 2023, approximately 2.1 billion devices will be connected to the Internet3 (700 million more than in 2018); and
- 83% of consumers consider the shopping experience as important as products and services⁴.
Latency and loading times are common issues for applications, especially at times like Black Friday, when eight out of ten consumers take part⁵ and hundreds of thousands of people try out online shopping.
However, one of the biggest obstacles for Lojas Renner to overcome, in order to achieve further growth in sales, was improving the performance of its systems in each part of Brazil and Uruguay, where Renner operates.
Renner, like 44% of companies who have already adopted edge computing⁶, used Azion’s edge-native products and services to deliver serverless applications at a faster speed than other monolithic applications that are hosted in the cloud⁷. Thanks to Azion’s Edge Functions and Edge Application, including its Application Acceleration, Edge Caching and Image Processor modules, Renner was able to:
- carry out A/B tests using functions built into the edge of the network;
- provide customized delivery of static and dynamic content; and
- use visual computing algorithms to optimize images.
After a rapid implementation process, Renner continued using Azion’s Solutions Lab to help build and run edge applications with advanced functionality.
Results and Impact
On Black Friday 2020, Renner’s edge applications on Azion’s platform handled requests that peaked at 17,000 per second, and only a small percentage of these needed to access the applications hosted on their infrastructure.
In 2020, Renner used the Azion’s Image Processor, to optimize the volume of images that needed to be transferred to customers’ devices without reducing their features and quality, which helped to:
- reduce the loading time of online applications;
- enable customers with limited bandwidth to get access, mobile users in particular;
- improve its SEO (Search Engine Optimization) performance;
- reduce online advertising costs by increasing organic traffic; and
- drive up the sales conversion rate.
Renner has relied on Azion’s assistance, since the beginning of this partnership, to support their own projects at the edge, such as converting the site so that both desktop and mobile devices can access responsive pages and using advanced features from Edge Application to support the load generated by large events without impacting the source infrastructure.
Lojas Renner S.A. was founded in 1965. It was the first Brazilian corporation to have all its shares listed on the stock exchange and is listed on the Novo Mercado, B3’s highest grade of corporate governance. Its fashion and lifestyle portfolio is based on the following brands:
- Renner, featuring clothes and accessories in a variety of styles;
- Camicado, a home accessories company;
- Youcom, which specializes in youth fashion; and
- ASHUA Curve & Plus Size, which features clothing in sizes 46 to 54.
There are currently over 600 stores, taking all of its business into account. The company also has Realize CFI, which provides and manages financial products to support its retail arm.
As well as operating all these brands in Brazil, Lojas Renner S.A. has also expanded internationally by opening branches of Renner in Uruguay in 2017 and Argentina in 2019.
To stay alive in the online world, there's nowhere else to run: you either adopt digital transformation for good and the best technological solutions or the path to failure is just a matter of time. As failure is a word we don't like to pronounce – let alone live – the best option is to choose complete tools that will exactly meet the demands of your business, in addition to providing peace of mind and ease of use for both your DevOps and end users.
As you have seen in our success case, an edge platform plays a fundamental role in the success of companies. And when the edge platform is Azion's, the benefits and competitive advantage make all the difference.
¹ Lucro da Renner cresce 16,7% no quarto trimestre de 2019 | Valor Econômico
² ⁻ ³ Annual Internet Report (2018–2023) White Paper | Cisco
⁴ Milliseconds Make Millions | Google & Deloitte
⁶ Predictions 2020: Edge Computing Makes The Leap | Forrester