blu Uses AWS to Deliver on Fast Parcel Promise
The Parcel Waits for You
While online shopping is convenient, the delivery process can be a hassle. Particularly for items where a signature is required to confirm receipt, customers may become captive to a vague delivery window that can stretch an entire day. blu is an ecommerce logistics solutions provider that started with the belief that “the parcel waits for you and not the other way around.”
Founded in 2015 to serve the domestic market in Singapore, blu manages the entire logistics value chain for ecommerce retailers. It also runs a mobile app for individual consumers to send and collect parcels across the island. Shipping a tracked parcel up to 2 kilograms would cost $4.80 with Singapore Post and take three working days to arrive, not to mention the hassle of lining up at the post office during business hours. The blu alternative? Same-day delivery at half the cost, retrievable day or night during a 48-hour window from one of the company’s conveniently located bluPort parcel lockers.
AWS offers a range of solutions that give us the security and scalability we need to support our expansion plans with peace of mind.”
Founder and Chief Executive Officer, blu
Realizing the Full Benefits of Automation on the Cloud
Automation and robotics define blu’s warehouse and fulfillment services, and technology is an integral part of the business. Initially, blu launched with an on-premises data center but soon realized that it needed to migrate to the cloud to realize the full benefits of infrastructure automation. “We were experiencing difficulty in scaling, a constant need for maintenance, and the risk of security breaches,” explains Prashant Dadlani, founder and chief executive officer of blu.
blu migrated to the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Cloud to alleviate the infrastructure burden on its 10 engineers and strengthen the company’s security posture as it grew. “AWS offers a range of solutions that give us the security and scalability we need to support our expansion plans with peace of mind,” Dadlani says. In its four years of operations, blu has gone from zero to 120 automated parcel lockers, also known as bluPort terminals.
Continued growth is anticipated, as management sees plenty of opportunity in helping Singapore’s brick-and-mortar stores outsource their warehousing and fulfilment needs. Dadlani envisions more retailers converting physical stores from point-of-purchase outlets to showroom environments where purchases are carried out through a QR code and products are delivered to bluPort parcel lockers the next day.
Time Savings Trump Cost Savings
With AWS, blu engineers can focus on innovating, rather than maintaining infrastructure. Currently, blu is using managed services such as Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) and Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) Auto Scaling to automate time-consuming tasks such as backups and resource deployment, which is key to managing the volatile workloads characteristic of the logistics industry.
Dadlani estimates he would need one or two engineers dedicated to hardware management if the company had not migrated to the AWS Cloud. While managed services come with a higher price tag, the speed to market they enable gives blu a clear advantage. “Time is money, especially in our business,” Dadlani says. “Counterintuitively, our team has grown even though we are more efficient, simply because we have more opportunities to build more features knowing that our infrastructure is supported by AWS.”
Finding a Balance between Accessibility and Security
blu is not a standalone product. Its systems—and indeed its entire value proposition—rely on integration within a broader technology ecosystem shared by retailers, partners, and even its bluPort parcel lockers. Finding the right balance between accessibility and security within that ecosystem was challenging for blu as it grew.
Because bluPort parcel lockers function as IoT devices, they are subject to security vulnerabilities when data is transferred to and from company headquarters. However, by using AWS Direct Connect, bluPort data is transferred over a private connection to blu’s AWS environment. “Enhancing scalability and accessibility while maintaining a high level of security was a key evolutionary improvement from on-premises to the cloud. On the AWS Cloud, we get the best of both worlds,” Dadlani says.
Simplifying Communication with In-App Messages
While blu’s speed of parcel delivery is certainly a top driver of customer satisfaction, ease of communication is also a factor. Automated messages are generated and sent to consumers via WhatsApp when a package is being delivered. Recipients can respond to the notification within WhatsApp to get direct customer support from blu. There’s no need for customers to search for a website, scroll to find contact information, and call or email a representative.
“This makes a big difference in the customer journey, in terms of people’s ability to interact immediately with a human behind the service,” Dadlani says. It’s a win-win situation for retailers too, who don’t need to manage the delivery aspect of the post-sales experience. But automated notifications and real-time communication are only possible with stable connectivity. Since migrating to AWS, blu has had zero downtime.
Leveraging Cloud-Native Approach to Development
Engineers are now completely redesigning blu’s architecture to leverage cloud-native approaches, including continuous integration and development (CI/CD) and technologies such as Amazon Elastic Container Service (Amazon ECS). The end goal is to improve the user interface and broaden visibility into retail data. Analytics and personalized offers that add value to physical experiences at bluPort terminals will closely follow.
Furthermore, containerization will allow blu to deploy features faster and more frequently, rather than waiting to accumulate a number of upgrades before taking down the entire system to deploy en masse—the default method in blu’s pre-AWS world.
“Our entire architecture is designed in a way that, because of the different managed services we’re using, we can isolate features and ultimately release faster without compromising security or scalability,” Dadlani concludes. “AWS has exceeded our expectations around functionality, service, and support, and because of this we are confident in pursuing business growth.”
To learn more, visit Migrate with AWS.
blu is a Singapore retail solutions provider managing the entire logistics value chain for ecommerce customers. From automated warehousing and fulfillment to delivery at one of its 120 bluPort parcel lockers across the country, customers enjoy same-day shipping at a fair price.
Benefits of AWS
- Enhances security with private network connections
- Automates time-consuming database and deployment tasks
- Boosts productivity of engineers to pursue innovation
- Scales to support business expansion
- Isolates development environments to support app stability
- Communicates with customers in real time
AWS Services Used
Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) makes it easy to set up, operate, and scale a relational database in the cloud.
Amazon EC2 Auto Scaling
Amazon EC2 Auto Scaling helps you maintain application availability and allows you to automatically add or remove EC2 instances according to conditions you define.
AWS Direct Connect
AWS Direct Connect is a cloud service solution that makes it easy to establish a dedicated network connection from your premises to AWS.
Amazon Elastic Container Service (Amazon ECS) is a fully managed container orchestration service. Customers use ECS to run their most sensitive and mission critical applications because of its security, reliability, and scalability.
Companies of all sizes across all industries are transforming their businesses every day using AWS. Contact our experts and start your own AWS Cloud journey today.