Punchh Uses Amazon DocumentDB (with MongoDB compatibility) to Handle a Two-Fold Increase in Database Workload


Building Loyalty with Data

One-for-one discounts, coupon redemptions, and reward programs are just a few of the customer engagement activities Punchh facilitates to keep over 175 million customers across 200 brands happy. Restaurant owners and retailers use Punchh’s services to gain insight into their customers’ behaviors—including order preferences, preferred payment methods, and preferred devices—and leverage the data to drive real-time customer engagement.

“We capture customer data from different interactions and touchpoints—such as apps, point of sales machines, and other in-store or online channels—to uncover ways for restaurant owners and retailers to engage with their customers. For instance, with the platform, restaurants can associate their customers’ favourite orders to their profile, based on purchase data. This data can also be used to deliver personalized customer offers and incentives, by pushing out loyalty campaigns, such as one-for-one offers or special discounts rewarded after completing a set of engagement and purchase activities.” says Bhanu Mohanty, chief architect at Punchh.

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AWS provided us with first-hand insight on the database services that were available to address the challenges we were facing. As an AWS Enterprise Support customer, we also had 24x7 technical support in finetuning the performance of our platform with Amazon DocumentDB. Thanks to AWS, we were able to achieve high scalability and 20 percent cost-savings."

Bhanu Mohanty
Chief Architect, Punchh


Keeping Pace with Customer Growth

Serving brands across the United States, Australia, and Europe, Punchh has onboarded 200 merchants onto its platform over the last 10 years. The Punchh platform, which has been running on Amazon Web Services (AWS) since inception, relies on a relational database as a core database service and Amazon Elastic Container Service (Amazon ECS) to run campaigns.

However, as its business grew, Punchh struggled with ingesting data volumes and simultaneously running concurrent loyalty campaigns across geographic locations. The company noticed that concurrent campaigns were not running smoothly due to latency limitations of the database. Moreover, scaling the database to address this issue was not cost-efficient.

Mohanty explains, “For these brands, one of the key value propositions of our platform is that we can extend the right offer to each of their customers, at the most opportune time and through the most ideal channel. Any delays in campaign performance might result in customers missing out on promotional offers, negatively impacting customer engagement.”

Taking the Next Step

Anticipating a 100 percent growth in the number of customers over the next two years, Punchh began to explore other database services that could support the increase in data traffic. Mohanty knew right away that a NoSQL database would be ideal, as it could support different data types—including unstructured data such as customers’ purchasing habits and location data—while keeping costs low.

Since he was familiar with MongoDB and its performance, Mohanty’s team ran multiple proof-of-concepts (POCs) to determine the best solution for Punchh, including a comparison between a MongoDB managed service and Amazon DocumentDB, which is also MongoDB-compatible.

“When we conducted our first POC, the MongoDB service was able to handle larger data workloads than Amazon DocumentDB. When we shared the findings with AWS, it turned out that the settings used were not optimised to deliver the throughput needed.” commented Mohanty.

He adds, “Consulting with AWS on the second POC, we tested the scalability and performance of Amazon DocumentDB with a two-fold increase in the load of data we usually work with, and the results were impressive. There were no delays or downtime in performance, allowing multiple concurrent campaigns to run smoothly.”

Following the results of the two POCs, AWS helped to migrate NoSQL data workloads from a relational database to Amazon DocumentDB—a fully managed document database service. It was a smooth and seamless process, with virtually no downtime, allowing the Punchh platform to continue operating during the move.

Lasting Improvements in Database Performance

After migrating to Amazon DocumentDB, Punchh also witnessed other areas of improvement in performance. For instance, the speed with which customer rules—defined by customer preferences gathered from data collected—are inserted in the server improved by 20 times. Punchh uses these rules to deliver notifications to customers on promotional offers, which can now be done in real-time.

Moreover, given that Amazon DocumentDB is a fully managed service, Punchh’s operating teams are able to focus on other areas of the business, as opposed to managing its database service. This also helped to free up the team’s time, as they no longer had to provide customer support to manage any downtimes in campaigns, which happened daily prior to the migration.

“AWS provided us with first-hand insight on the database services that were available to address the challenges we were facing. As an AWS Enterprise Support customer, we also had 24x7 technical support in finetuning the performance of our platform with Amazon DocumentDB. Thanks to AWS, we were able to achieve high scalability and 20 percent cost-savings.” adds Mohanty.

Expanding Use Cases

With an improved database service, Punchh can also support larger digital marketing campaigns for its customers. “The steps we’ve taken with AWS to migrate our database to DocumentDB will enable us to improve our offerings and refine our customers’ loyalty and marketing efforts. Some of our customers’ marketing campaigns target millions of guests—which means inserting millions of notifications as individual records in our database. With AWS, we can handle a request for millions of notifications to be sent out in real-time, for different brands, concurrently. This ultimately helps the brands on our platform to deliver better value to their customers.” concludes Mohanty.

Punchh, Inc

Punchh, Inc is a leading digital marketing company that offers software-as-a-service solutions to brick-and-mortar retailers and restaurants. It supports its customers in maximizing their customer lifetime value and growing their same-store sales by running loyalty programs. Today, Punchh serves over 200 brands.

Benefits of AWS

  • Improved database performance by two-fold
  • Saved up to 20% in costs
  • Achieved high scalability for deployment of services

AWS Services Used

Amazon DocumentDB

Amazon DocumentDB (with MongoDB compatibility) is a fast, scalable, highly available, and fully managed document database service that supports MongoDB workloads. As a document database, Amazon DocumentDB makes it easy to store, query, and index JSON data.

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Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS)

Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) makes it easy to set up, operate, and scale a relational database in the cloud. It provides cost-efficient and resizable capacity while automating time-consuming administration tasks such as hardware provisioning, database setup, patching and backups.

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Amazon Elastic Container Service (Amazon ECS)

Amazon Elastic Container Service (Amazon ECS) is a fully managed container orchestration service. Customers such as Duolingo, Samsung, GE, and Cookpad use ECS to run their most sensitive and mission critical applications because of its security, reliability, and scalability.

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