How AWS is helping cloud-based customer engagement company Capillary Technologies connect retailers with customers on a personal level
At a time when more than 40 percent of the world’s population is online and e-commerce is experiencing unprecedented growth (The Indian e-commerce market is expected to grow to US$200 billion by 2026 from US$ 48.5billion as of 2018, as per a report by the India Brand Equity Foundation), it has become imperative for companies to get under the skin of their customers to know exactly what they want.
Today, consumers are increasingly assuming that businesses will predict and understand their individual needs. However, identifying, understanding and engaging with each consumer is no easy task.
This is where Singapore-based consumer experience platform Capillary Technologies has built a niche for itself. It provides OmniChannel engagement and commerce solutions to help consumer brands increase customers reach, engagement, sales and loyalty. It integrates Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to help global brands get a deep understanding and insights into their consumers; engage consumers through personalised communication; provide easy and connected cross-channel commerce experiences; and build loyalty to reward and retain their best consumers.
Setting new trends
Capillary Technologies was founded in 2008 as a mobile-number- based loyalty platform at a time when most loyalty programmes were card-based. Research at the time suggested that one of the biggest challenges consumer brands faced was the inability to capture customer data, identify consumers visiting their stores and communicate effectively with them.
Built on a Big Data platform, the Capillary Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution enabled brands to use existing infrastructure to directly communicate with consumers through mobile technology. Over the years, Capillary has expanded globally and evolved their product suite to fit ever-changing market dynamics. Today, the company has development centres in India and China and an 800+ strong team.
Scaling new heights with AWS
Capillary Technologies has built their solutions on Amazon Web Services (AWS) from the ground up since 2008. “When we started, AWS was at the forefront of innovation and was the only available enterprise platform that matched all our products’ omnichannel needs,” says Pravanjan Choudhury, CTO, Capillary Technologies.
AWS also had the latest technology and was continually innovating with technologies like elastic inference, which is GPU-capable hardware for AI Workloads, making it the obvious choice. “The latest hardware and software infrastructure (K8 - Kubernetes, containerisation) was readily available and we were willing to be early adopters. AWS solution architects also made sure that we were aware of the latest available infrastructure services and helped us make data-driven decisions for architecture design evaluations.”
Given that most of the company’s offerings depend on data, Data Security and Big Data Capabilities were the top criteria.
Overcoming challenges in the ecosystem
Being in the business of helping brands stay consumer-ready is a challenge, especially since consumers today live in an ‘EasyVerse’, Chaudhury says. “They want what they want, when they want, and where they want. Consumers are starting to take for granted that businesses will know and understand their individual needs, and reward businesses that make it easy. We are helping brands to be Always Consumer Ready and deliver the experience that consumers expect.” However, Capillary Technologies is uniquely positioned to solve these challenges with 10+ years of deep domain expertise in Retail, CPG and Manufacturing and are working with more than 400 brands. Moreover, the company’s industry-first adoption, and an AI Lab at IIT-Kharagpur makes it stand out from the rest. The company is research focused, given that 40 percent of its revenue is invested in R&D.
Providing not just technology but support for global expansion
Capillary Technologies leverages AWS for workloads like PWA, API backend services, SQL/No-SQL servers, K8, Elastic Inference workloads, IoT Cores and others. “We use Terraform for provisioning a lot of our infrastructure. Also the DevOps/Technology team uses console and other script-based deployment procedures. We also use Hadoop for our cluster-based Big Data processing workloads,” Chaudhury says.
He adds, “There were hardly any hurdles in deployment. Once the understanding of the features was clear, all of which was clearly documented, deployment was a cakewalk.”
AWS’ solutions also allows Capillary Technologies dynamic scaling options, both horizontally and vertically, which is essential during peak seasons like end-of-season sales and festivals – a time when their customers run a large number of campaigns. Also having all their data on the same platform helped the company with cost-effective strategies.
AWS continues to support Capillary Technologies with operations and scaling. Effective monitoring metrics and logging and APIs help the company take decisions related to provisioning and scaling.
AWS’s global presence enabled Capillary Technologies’ expansion to 30 countries in a short span of 10 years. Since AWS has datacenters across the globe, it helped the company enter and start operations in new countries faster, even in difficult markets like China. More than half of Capillary Technologies’ applications are containerised, which offers immutability when launching in new regions.
Customer is king
AWS infrastructure has enabled Capillary Technologies’ clients to connect with the customers and run seamless omnichannel operations. Having a complete product portfolio (online and offline) on AWS enables them to leverage the capability to its best. For example, Behavioral Data Ingestion from online sources tied up with offline transactions behaviour leads Capillary Technologies to define better engagement policies with the customer, which they enable in loyalty, recommendations and personalised communications and commerce.
When it comes to customer benefits, deployment of AWS has also helped them scale based on seasons,and run in various geographical regions seamlessly.
“Infrastructure reuse and containerisation help us in rapid prototyping and deployments for our customers,” Chaudhury says, adding that AWS has also benefited business in terms of cost and innovation.
Here’s how: During peak shopping seasons or campaign periods, the traffic is up by 50 times than usual. Capillary has leveraged AWS solutions to stay resilient to this demand and be scale-ready for the largest retailers. The company has formed an AI/ML innovation lab dedicated to adding more AI capabilities to its products and has maintained an availability rate of 99.97 percent despite a soaring customer base.
Capillary has also used Amazon Rekognition to drive an effective customer engagement solution powered by smart IoT sensors deployed in the stores. The technology captures information about visitors such as how much time they spend in a store or if they are a returning customer with products – VisitorMetrix and VisitorSense. Capillary is also experimenting with Amazon SageMaker to simplify the development and deployment of ML algorithms across its product portfolio. Leveraging the AWS platform has also reduced time to market for new products and stay ahead of the curve.
While all these have benefited business, onboarding new customers is also an area that AWS facilitated, thanks to the AWS Partner Network (APN). “The programme helps us to reach out to a larger audience and showcase our capabilities on multiple platforms. Also, the trustworthiness of security, scalability and reliability of the AWS platform gives our target audience confidence in our solutions,” Chaudhury says.
Driving to the future with AWS
Staying true to its innovation mission, Capillary has formed an AI/ML innovation lab dedicated to adding more AI capabilities to its products. Earlier this year, Capillary became one of the first AWS Digital Customer Experience (DCX) Competency Partners, a programme that recognises companies supporting all phases of the digital customer acquisition and retention lifecycle.
Choudhury and the team also believe this partnership will facilitate the onboarding of new customers already operating on the AWS Cloud and give them key exposure in new markets.