LightInTheBox (NYSE: LITB) is an integrated supply chain service with an online business-to-consumer (B2C) retail arm. Headquartered in Beijing, China, LITB makes more than 600,000 products available to its tens of millions of registered users, with annual sales of more than 200 million RMB. The company buys goods from wholesale manufacturers in Guangdong, Shanghai, Zhejiang, Jiangsu, Fujian, Shandong and Beijing and other provinces. In 2008, LITB received the Most Innovative Company Award from PayPal.
LITB, an online retailer with customers all over the world, has grown tremendously as the Internet has brought buyers and sellers together from all corners of the globe. But globalization has resulted in challenges, as well. With millions of users all over the world and millions of online transactions from foreign trade, LITB needed a robust architecture that would scale with increasing use and provide plenty of storage for both its website and its customer data.
The company began with a traditional on-premises infrastructure, deploying servers as its user base swelled. But as LITB gained traction with consumers, the company found it was outgrowing its infrastructure. “We were facing operational overload,” says Liang Lu, CTO. “The company needed a way to deploy globally available service applications quickly, without making significant investments in infrastructure.”
LITB team decided to research cloud computing. “Stability and cost control were key factors for us,” Lu says. “Response time and availability were critical to our company’s success.”
Why Amazon Web Services
LITB chose Amazon Web Services (AWS) because of its reputation as a leader in the cloud industry. “The AWS model made it easy for us to try cloud computing and see if it was right for us,” Lu says. “AWS proved to be reliable and effective, so we decided to migrate our site to the AWS Cloud.”
The company moved its site, business operations, and analytical applications to AWS. LITB uses Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud(Amazon EC2) for deployment and Amazon Simple Email Service (Amazon SES) for its transactional email services. The company also uses Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) to store product images and information, transactional data, and system logs. For its data analysis services, the company uses Amazon Elastic MapReduce (Amazon EMR) with Hadoop.
By using the AWS Cloud, LITB was able to build a highly available website for its customers and save on operating expenses, as well. “Using AWS means we are able to accommodate any transaction, anywhere, no matter what the trading volume is,” Lu says. “Being able to adjust our computing resources as needed reduces costs for us and lets us scale virtually without restrictions.”
Using AWS has enabled the company to balance traffic loads automatically and make sure customers have a quick, easy experience on the LITB site. Lu estimates that the company has experienced 99.9 percent availability. “Using AWS lets us shorten our execution time and conduct trade between different countries more smoothly,” Lu says.
Going forward, the company is considering using the Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS). “We have full confidence in AWS,” Lu says. “We plan to move more of our operations to the AWS Cloud.”