Online beauty retailer BEAUTY BAY aims to provide an excellent customer experience to satisfy its young audience and keep them up-to-date with the latest trends. To accomplish this, it worked with AWS Partner BJSS on a digital transformation that affected many aspects of its business. Together, they’ve conducted an AWS Well-Architected review of the IT estate, revamped the order management system, and built a cloud-native data platform on Amazon Web Services (AWS) so that Beauty Bay can derive greater value from its customer and business information.
Transforming To Boost Efficiency and Prepare for Growth
Online retailer BEAUTY BAY serves a young demographic with high expectations for a convenient and differentiated shopping experience to acquire the latest and most exclusive products. Because of this, BEAUTY BAY is continuously looking to innovate and make the best use of technology to improve its customer experience.
When BEAUTY BAY realized its challenges around the inflexibility and unreliability of its IT systems were limiting its ability to delight customers and grow at pace, it turned to AWS.
A longtime AWS customer, BEAUTY BAY engaged AWS Partner BJSS to undertake a digital transformation that has boosted the efficiency of the customer order process, enabled the business to scale for growth, and provided the foundation for a shift to data-driven decision making across the company.
The new solutions we’ve developed with BJSS and AWS are powering better decision making and reducing operational risks. With a single view of the truth and a reliable, scalable platform, we’re improving customer experience, too.”
Technology Director, BEAUTY BAY.
Benefitting from Open Communication and a Structured Approach
BEAUTY BAY worked closely with BJSS throughout the project. “BJSS helped with thought leadership to clearly identify our challenges and come to the right conclusions, and then collaborated with our internal teams to work through them in a structured way,” says Rob Black, technology director at BEAUTY BAY.
The two companies established an open and honest approach from the start. “We communicate well, and that allows us to be effective in improving both the technology and the business,” says Ralph Robinson, head of retail at BJSS. “BEAUTY BAY’s strong and trusted relationship with AWS also made progress easier to achieve as we've been able to build on its best practice.”
BJSS began by conducting an AWS Well-Architected review of BEAUTY BAY’s infrastructure, across the five pillars of operations: security, reliability, performance efficiency, cost optimization, and operational excellence.
The structured approach gave BEAUTY BAY an objective assessment of its entire IT estate with clear actions to fix issues. “The strategy of running an upfront discrete and in depth discovery phase was a new approach for the business,” says Black. “We benefited from being part the process.”
Processing Customer Orders in Minutes, Not Hours
The first phase of the transformation focused on improving the scalability of BEAUTY BAY’s order management system. The retailer experiences variable demand, with peak traffic during the Christmas season, for sales events and product releases. Previously, the site could experience slowdowns or order delays at busy times, which degraded customer experience.
BEAUTY BAY and BJSS developed a new architecture built on AWS to deal with traffic spikes and improve customer experience by enabling a reliable and speedy ordering experience. “Because the order management system is mission-critical, we made sure to minimize any disruption to it,” says Robinson.
The revamped order management system was delivered on time and within budget. BEAUTY BAY can now scale easily to changes in customer demand, thanks to a serverless architecture that automatically adjusts compute resources during busy shopping times. “We now have the elasticity to automatically scale on demand to support high traffic volumes, and safely reduce compute capacity during lower volume periods, which enables us to manage our cost base effectively,” says Black.
This scalability was put to the test during the COVID-19 pandemic, when customer numbers rose as high-street shops closed. Thanks to its flexible architecture, BEAUTY BAY was able to meet rising demand, which nearly doubled during lockdowns in the UK and Europe, and provide a responsive shopping experience.
The new system reduced order processing times, handling 65,000 orders in 40 minutes, compared to hours on the previous system. A stock monitoring system shortens the time it takes staff to look up products to fulfill orders, with items appearing in seconds compared to minutes previously.
Shifting to a Data-Driven Culture for Better Decision Making
To compete in a fast moving and price-sensitive market, BEAUTY BAY needs to make decisions based on real-time information. But prior to working with BJSS, BEAUTY BAY provided business leaders with data refreshes just once a day.
BJSS worked with BEAUTY BAY to develop a new data platform built on AWS. It uses AWS Glue, a serverless data integration service, to provide BEAUTY BAY with a modern distributed computing framework that can scale in capacity and cost as the business grows.
To ingest real-time data on customer activity, BEAUTY BAY uses Amazon Simple Notification Service (SNS), a fully managed messaging service, and Amazon Simple Queue Service (SQS), a fully managed message queuing service.
The platform integrates real-time information from multiple sources and provides a single view of customer and business data that employees can access via mobile or web interfaces. This makes it easy to monitor and respond to changing market and customer issues.
BEAUTY BAY employees have current insights into the business, using AWS QuickSight, a cloud-native, serverless BI service, and Amazon Personalize, which lets developers create real-time personalized user experiences faster at scale. Using Personalize, BEAUTY BAY can now quickly view where customers are located and which products they buy.
BJSS and BEAUTY BAY also built a real-time margin detection system using Amazon OpenSearch Service, which allows the company to search, visualize, and analyze up to petabytes of text and unstructured data. The detection system alerts staff to any anomalies in product margins so they can take immediate action.
BJSS built the data platform using an everything-as-code approach and the AWS Cloud Development Kit (CDK), an open-source software development framework that defines cloud application resources using familiar programming languages. This made it more flexible, easier, and cheaper to maintain, and quicker to deploy too, improving the IT team’s ability to innovate. “We’re proud of the new data platform,” says Robinson. “By giving BEAUTY BAY access to real-time information to make decisions, it will support a cultural shift in the organization for years to come.”
For BEAUTY BAY, the digital transformation is bringing about real business change and supporting global expansion plans. “The new solutions we’ve developed with BJSS and AWS are powering better decision making and reducing operational risks,” says Black. “With a single view of the truth and a reliable, scalable platform, we’re improving customer experience, too.”
About Beauty Bay
BEAUTY BAY is an online beauty retailer which sells through their website and mobile app. Founded in 1999, BEAUTY BAY showcases must-have beauty essentials as well as hard-to-find products that can't be found anywhere else. In 2018, BEAUTY BAY launched their own beauty brand, By BEAUTY BAY, with a growing selection of affordable, vegan and cruelty-free skincare, makeup, and haircare products.
AWS Services Used
- Reduced order processing time from hours to minutes
- Shortened staff time to fulfil orders
- Scaled to meet a significant rise in customer demand during COVID-19 pandemic
- Launched real-time data platform to improve decision making
About AWS Partner BJSS
BJSS is a technology and engineering consultancy for businesses. BJSS collaborates with its clients to deliver complex, innovative technology, engineering, and industry solutions that millions of people use every day. In the retail space, it is recognized by the FT and Statista as a 2022 UK Leading Management Consultant. Founded in 1993, BJSS has 2,500 employees operating across 25 locations in the UK, Europe, USA, and Australia.
Published January 2023