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Community Blog Cloud Solutions for Applying in New Retail Industry

Cloud Solutions for Applying in New Retail Industry

Cloud solutions for new retail combine cloud computing and big data capabilities to help new retail companies quickly build hybrid cloud platforms, and transform into digitalization quickly.

Reinventing Your Business with New Retail Roadshow and Booth Solutions

This article will address how new retail methodology and technology can be applied to a retail booth, or pop-up store scenario.

A retail booth, also known as a popup store, is a location in the shopping mall where rental is more temporary in nature. The main advantage is the lower risk in testing out new products or new venue, because of the often shorter term rental binding, and lower renovation/decoration costs.

Roadshow is a particular use of a retail booth location for doing promotional events, especially for the launch of new products or performing promotion corresponding to seasonal needs. Conceptually, roadshows and retail booths are slightly different, but in this discussion, we will simply call the both of them as a "retail booth".

Reinventing Your Business with New Retail

There are typically 4 key business objectives of incorporating new retail into existing businesses:

  1. CRM Data Expansion: Attract customers to the booth/road-show by lookalike (similar audience) expansion of customer base
  2. Customer-Centric Experience: Build a fully digital experience for customer shopping to keep them engaged
  3. Offline Digitalization: Further capture reality digitally to improve demographic/product/layout/understanding
  4. Data-Driven Retail: Fueled by AI, data analysis can be done to improve marketing, promotions, store layout, and product recommendation

These objectives essentially encapsulate how technologies are applied in to the booth.

Let's have a closer look at a typical user journey from online to offline, i.e. from getting promotional/marketing messages to reaching the store and leaving afterwards:

O2O User Journey for Retail Booth

Key Technologies in New Retail

In a nutshell, there are 4 main technology areas involved in New Retail:

  1. Image Recognition
  2. Facial Recognition and Flow Tracking
  3. Data Analysis and Machine Learning
  4. Personalized Recommendation

Specifically, around the booth, there are several applicable technologies that can be used:

Technologies Applicable Around Booth

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Is Blockchain a Breakthrough for New Retail?

In this blog, we explore how the blockchain is necessary for the new retail industry to create a consistent platform for storing and sharing of information.

With the emergence of a new retail in the internet era, traditional business models have evolved to meet the demands introduced by new retail. Businesses from all industries have also adjusted and upgraded their services to adapt to new situations. In recent years, a new marketing and operations concept, known as the supply-to-business (S2B) model, has taken the retail market by storm and has been regarded as one of the most advanced business model available.

In the context of the rapid development of new retail, the application of blockchain will be a breakthrough in the implementation of the S2B model. But what exactly are the impacts of blockchain and the S2B model on the retail industry? As a breakthrough and extension, how will blockchain support new retail and how will it inspire the retail sector?

The S2B2C Model

The S2B model was developed to cope with the constantly evolving demands of customers. Precisely, it is S2B2C, a powerful data-based supply chain platform (S) connected to thousands of businesses (B), that directly serves customers. By utilizing the power of the internet, S2B2C helps users interact more effectively and at a lower cost.

As a whole, suppliers and small businesses co-serve customers. In the Internet era, "co-serve" has two meanings. First, when serving customers, small businesses have to use specific services provided by suppliers. Apart from SaaS-based tools, suppliers should also offer some value-added services based on the integration of the upstream supply chains to help businesses to serve customers better.

Second, suppliers must have information about the process in which small businesses serve customers and receive real-time feedback from small businesses so that suppliers can improve services for small businesses. This requires that the process by which small enterprises serve customers is updated online. Also, suppliers and small businesses achieve network- and software-based automatic collaboration to better serve customers. For example, a supplier supplies goods to a micro-business but is not involved in the process in which the micro business serves customers. In this case, no higher value gets created, and this is not S2B2C. The S2B model will soon become a backdrop of the retail industry.

Blockchain as a Breakthrough of Retail

Let's analyze the S2B model in the new retail era from macro perspectives. In the new retail era, the application of blockchain offers an attractive opportunity for development and breakthrough. Regarding the norm requirements, the core of the model lies in that production is driven by consumption and backed by robust and scientific supply chain systems.

Dpath Traffic Isolation Solution for New Retail

Alibaba Dpath, a traffic isolation solution, is developed to provide support for new retail scenarios during the Double 11 Shopping Festival.

During this year's Double Eleven Shopping Festival, technical preparations had to be changed from previous years to support New Retail. The Business Division required that traffic from new retail will enter independent servers and be isolated from other common traffic. Although conceptually straightforward, this poses higher requirements on the stability of new retail systems.

We have proposed a solution known as Dpath (dedicated path) to cope with these new requirements. The general idea of Dpath can be described as follows:

  1. We can choose some apps on the link as needed, and specify some servers from the public cluster as dedicated servers for special traffic. Then we can provide special support for the special traffic.
  2. Common traffic does not enter dedicated servers, but the special traffic can use common servers as needed. If an app on the link, app_x, does not have a dedicated server, then the special traffic and common traffic share all servers of app_x (public cluster). If app_x has dedicated servers, but these servers are unreachable for some reason, then the special traffic can decide whether or not to use the public cluster based on the configured failover policy.
  3. The specified dedicated servers for each application on the entire link form a dedicated channel for special traffic, which is similar to bus lanes.
  4. The existing routing function of our RPC framework is valid on a single call. It will be troublesome to implement routing of the full link based on the routing function of a single call. Therefore we proposed the Dpath solution for traffic isolation on the entire link.

Working Mechanism of the Solution

We'll introduce how Dpath works in three steps:

  1. Select dedicated servers
  2. Identify special traffic
  3. Direct traffic from the link to the corresponding servers

Dedicated Machine Selection

Simply put, the information we need is the machines, apps, and the relation between them in a dedicated environment. Such information is stored in the configuration center in JSON format. A sample are as follows:

{
"enable": true, 
"envRules": [
    {
        "envName": "newRetail", 
        "failoverPolicy": 0,
        "envAppRules": [
            {
                "appName": "app1", 
                "ips": [ ], 
                "machineGroups": [
                    "app1_newRetail_host"
                ]
            }, 
            {
                "appName": "app2", 
                "ips": [ ], 
                "machineGroups": [
                    "app2_newRetail_host"
                ]
            }, 
            {
                "appName": "app3", 
                "ips": [ ], 
                "machineGroups": [
                    "app3_newRetail_host"
                ]
            }, 
            {
                "appName": "newRetailEntryApp", 
                "ips": [ ], 
                "machineGroups": [
                    "newRetailEntryApp_host"
                ]
            }
        ]
    }
]
}    

The above configuration information describes a dedicated environment called newRetail, which has four apps, app1, app2, app3, and newRetailEntryApp, and their corresponding machines.

The Dpath toolkit subscribes to the configuration, and each middleware can use the Dpath toolkit to get the required information.

Traffic Identification

Dpath uses the dpath_env attribute carried by the trace module (the trace function of the entire link, which can transmit data on the link) to identify the corresponding dedicated environment for the current traffic. With regards to how to map a request information to a dedicated environment, the business division will do it with business logic.

GIS-based Grid Operations of New Retail Merchants

In today's retail industry, data must be used to its greatest value if online and offline business are to be integrated and inventories optimized.

Here, online business refers to cloud platforms and offline business refers to stores or manufacturers. New logistics will eliminate inventories to reduce the volume of stock-ups.

The disappearance of E-commerce platforms means the decentralization of existing E-commerce platforms, where merchants will possess their own independent platforms and no longer settle their business on large-scale platforms like Tmall, JD.com, and Amazon. For example, if everyone owns a store on an E-commerce platform for centralized sales, the sales are restricted.

Data must be used to its greatest value if online and offline business are to be integrated and inventories eliminated. For example, it can be used to predict sales volume ahead of time. Connecting online and offline business also brings new challenges to data operation, and leads to gridded operation based on geographic locations.

Requirements

  1. Support quick data search based on geographic locations (GIS)
  2. Support analysis and exploration of massive sales data

Architecture design

Architecture design

  1. Sales data usually enters the Alibaba Cloud HybridDB for PostgreSQL database concurrently by means of OSS.
  2. The RDS PostgreSQL is responsible for online transaction processing and selecting merchants through gridded operation.
  3. The ETL program is responsible for data scheduling.
  4. The BI application is connected to HDB for PG and PG. Its drive and syntax are also compatible with PostgreSQL.
  5. HybridDB for PostgreSQL provides basic high-availability and backup functions, and also provides a function for one-click storage resizing. Users do not need to worry about performance stress from future data increases.
  6. HDB PG and RDS PG can transparently access (read/write) OSS data using an OSS_EXT external table plugin. The OSS provides massive shared storage, which allows RDS PG and HDB PG to share data. The OSS can also be used as an external source of massive data and is concurrently imported to an Express Connect of HDB PG. The OSS can also be used as cold data storage for RDS PG and HDB PG.

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Related Documentation

Real-time monitoring solution in the retail industry

In this use case, a leader in the apparel industry adopted a hybrid cloud solution based on Application Real-Time Monitoring Service (ARMS) to build a real-time monitoring system for its retail industry.

  1. The original monitoring platform for this customer adopted a traditional commercial Online Analytical Processing (OLAP) database, with considerable license expenditure.
  2. In addition, it cannot meet business needs in terms of scalability and real-time performance.

Business value of the ARMS-based monitoring system

  1. It decreases the total costs of operation (TCO) by hundreds of times, and achieves high-timeliness multidimensional analysis. It can not only help you grasp frontline sales details in real time, but also help you cope with challenges through sales and inventory configuration policies.
  2. It can also meet the needs in multiple scenarios. The DataV dashboard is used for overall presentation in the monitoring room, and the interactive ARMS dashboard is used for in-depth troubleshooting.

Overview of ApsaraDB for RDS editions

ApsaraDB for RDS offers four editions: Basic Edition, High-availability Edition, Cluster Edition, and Enterprise Edition. This topic describes how to view the edition of an RDS instance and provides a comparison between various editions.

For more information about the instance families that are supported by each edition, see Instance families.

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