AWS Case Study: Perx
Launched in October 2011, Perx states that it is the #1 mobile loyalty application in Singapore. With thousands of users, the goal of Perx is to make customer loyalty simple, smart, and secure. The free application allows users to forget traditional loyalty cards at home and instead use a secure loyalty app that is stored on their phones. With Perx, users simply download the application to their phone. At checkout, users ask merchants for a QR code to scan, from which they receive a "chop." Once enough "chops" are collected the customer earns rewards.
With the application, merchants are able to rethink loyalty in a way that protects both their brand and revenue. Perx is currently used at over 400 locations in Singapore including Salad Stop, Happy Lemon, and Cup Walker.
The company began with a group buying model, initially with a daily deals website in Hawaii called PLAYHawaii.com. Without financial backing, founders Andrew Roth and Jon Sugihara rented a single server at Media Temple. Jon says, “On the single server, we ran our CMS, database, and code—while also storing and serving all our media needs. Usage peaked at 150 requests per second, so that solution worked well for a time. But, as the business grew, we wanted to expand in Singapore and Indonesia, so we needed a more distributed and reliable system.”
The company began looking for a solution that would not involve managing hardware. Additionally, Perx wanted a single control panel that would make configuration and administration easy.
Why Amazon Services
“We looked at both Amazon Web Services [AWS] and another cloud provider,” says Sugihara. “With the other provider, it wasn’t easy for our IT staff to connect to the server and start coding immediately.” Ultimately, the team selected AWS and, with help from an outside consultant, set up and configured the AMI they needed. Sugiharanotes, “We just saved the AMI, and we were coding within a couple of hours. When we started looking at all of the services available from AWS, we knew there were other tools that could be used once we started to grow.”
Sugihara describes the next development phase: “Wanting to leverage the code we had from PLAYHawaii.com that worked off a single server, we started by using only Amazon Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2). As we grew, we added Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), Amazon CloudFront, and Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) for MySQL.” The API servers run a LAMP stack, and the company wrote its own APIs to interact with the mobile client. The application has a mobile and web client, but 98 percent of the traffic comes from mobile devices.
With the application, customers get started by looking at a series of loyalty cards. The card images they look at are stored in Amazon S3 and delivered to the customer by Amazon CloudFront. Additionally, customers may choose to only view the cards that are relevant based on their current location. All loyalty card data is stored in Amazon RDS and returned through the API service.
When the customer goes to a merchant, they simply scan the merchant’s QR code with the Perx application in order to receive a “chop.” The application then writes this information to the Perx database. The information that is stored is the digital equivalent of a punch on a paper loyalty card. The customer then gets a confirmation response that reads some customer specific information from the Perx database, and the API services send this information to the mobile app. It is critical that the chop process is reliable and scalable. To scale during peak periods, or as traffic grows, Perx configured and saved an Amazon Machine Image. With the saved image, Perx can launch the server resources they need in minutes.
By using AWS, Perx was able to get their application to market in only two months, with the initial configuration only taking two hours. Currently, the application is accepted at over 400 locations in Singapore.
Sugihara says, “The main benefit is knowing that AWS can handle our future growth. If we land a big client, we could grow massively overnight. With AWS, we have the tools and flexibility to easily respond to growth and any other obstacles we may encounter as we move forward.”
To learn more about how AWS can help your web application needs, visit our Web Applications details page: http://aws.amazon.com/web-mobile-social.