How Clicktale Uses AWS to Power a Successful Cyber Monday
September 8, 2021: Amazon Elasticsearch Service has been renamed to Amazon OpenSearch Service. See details.
Cyber Monday generates big sales for online retailers but it also generates big insights. As customers browse, retailers gain all kinds of new information about customer behavior and how the experience on their websites attracts—or repels—potential buyers.
This is where experience analytics startup Clicktale comes in. Clicktale provides the analytics that synthesizes complex behavioral patterns based on millisecond-level actions such as hovers, taps and scrolls. How long do customers linger on certain sections? Where should a retailer position a video or a discount offer? What does all this mean for improving sales? How does it affect customer experience of the brand?
This insight enables businesses to interpret their customers’ digital body language and understand intent. “We capture everything that goes on inside the browser,” says chief technology officer Shachar Bar. But Clicktale doesn’t just capture experiential data, Clicktale’s secret sauce is the ability to enrich that data and deliver actionable insights. “In an A/B test, for instance, when comparing two versions of a website, Clicktale doesn’t just say which one is better,” Bar says. “Rather, we provide insights into your visitors’ behaviors when they interact with your pages, explaining why they reacted differently to each version.”
While Cyber Monday represents the high-water mark for most online retailers, Clicktale’s customers—which hail from the US, Europe, and Asia and include several Fortune500 companies—must also provide great digital experiences the other 364 days of the year.
To help their customers do this, Clicktale utilizes core Amazon Web Services such as EC2, S3, CloudWatch, and DynamoDB as the “building blocks” of its production, staging, and development environment, and uses Amazon OpenSearch Service (successor to Amazon Elasticsearch Service) to provide even more granular reports for customers.
Clicktale mostly relied on Vertica until late 2017 for the analytical slicing and dicing of data. But as the company grew, it realized it needed to complement Vertica with an additional powerful tool for structured and unstructured data. Clicktale chose to implement elastic search as a service by AWS due to the very high requirements around scale and stability which are particularly important during busy periods like Cyber Monday.
For Cyber Monday this past year, Bar and his team began preparing months ago and were in the office for the big day, watching the traffic and data move on their internal monitoring systems.
“We have enormous spikes which can go up a thousand percent in less than five minutes,” Bar says. “AWS works with our load balancers and scales really quickly.” For example, Bar notes that on this year’s Cyber Monday, the system was processing hundreds of thousands of requests from browsers around the world to Clicktale servers on AWS. These requests sent to Clicktale servers encapsulate tens of millions of user interactions and pre-defined events per second that are all processed within seconds and transformed into analytical data. “This setup allows us to support our retailers’ huge campaigns.”
AWS, Bar says, is always quick to respond with questions and there’s never ambiguity about the level of support offered and associated costs.
“We add new subsystems every month. We scale things. We change things. It is really crucial for us to understand what we’re paying for, and better utilize the resources we actually pay for,” he says. “We feel they’re a true partner.”