Shutl is an aggregation service that helps retailers in the United Kingdom provide their e-commerce customers with ninety minute order deliveries. Retailers can also offer deliveries within a one hour timeframe established by individual customers. These new delivery options are available through the Shutl web service API, which connects directly with individual courier companies.
Retailers can integrate the Shutl API into their websites, point-of-sale systems, mobile devices, and telephone channels. When an order is placed, Shutl determines which courier company can complete the delivery within the established time period. This determination is based on a number of factors, including location, cost-effectiveness, and past courier performance.
As a new company, Shutl chose Amazon Web Services (AWS) to meet all of its compute and storage requirement rather than funding in-house solutions. Steve Romney, Shutl’s CTO explains, “As a start up, it was a bit of a no brainer to look to the cloud to meet our infrastructure needs. At the risk of quoting the same old buzzwords, things like flexibility, scalability, on demand pricing, no long term contracts and no required minimum commitments--all without any upfront capital spend-- were very real and immediate benefits that the cloud brought to us. Without the burden of an existing infrastructure to migrate, it just made economic and technical sense for us to fully embrace the cloud from day one.”
Because UK retailers must trust Shutl to deliver its goods as promised and according to governmental regulations, the company also had to consider issues of reputation and privacy when selecting its cloud services provider. Steve Romney notes, “Because we operate in the UK under European Union privacy laws, we needed to ensure that all of our customer data was stored in the EU. Amazon was one of the very few established Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) providers that enabled us to choose EU-based server locations. Plus, the fact that Amazon.com runs on the same AWS infrastructure gave instant credibility to the platform and gave us confidence that it would meet our needs both now and as we grow.”
Today, Shutl uses six Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances to host its entire production platform, while an additional three instances host multiple testing environments for quality assurance, user acceptance, and system performance. When necessary, Amazon EC2 On-Demand instances are called upon for load testing or to boost capacity during heavy traffic periods. The company also utilizes Amazon EC2’s block level storage option, Amazon Elastic Block Store (Amazon EBS), as persistent storage for log files and other databases. Amazon Elastic IP provides Shutl with fixed IP addresses designed specifically for cloud computing.
As Shutl looks towards future expansion beyond the UK, it plans to add other Amazon Web Services into its existing feature stack, including Amazon CloudFront for content delivery and Elastic Load Balancing for traffic distribution between its Amazon EC2 instances.
Steve Romney concludes, “AWS has certainly helped Shutl get off the ground successfully. We were able to rapidly implement a robust infrastructure to prototype, test, and deploy our platform with negligible capital expenditure on technology. Now that we have launched, we can use that same infrastructure to scale at whatever pace the market dictates, but still with minimal upfront investment. Our IT group can support our sales and marketing group’s ambitious growth plans, and our cost structure contributes to Shutl’s capital efficient business model.”
To learn more, visit http://www.shutl.co.uk/ .
Added December 21, 2011