Edge Computing - what does it mean, and why is it relevant to retail?
We often talk about being proud technology geeks. We believe that technology should enhance our everyday experiences, and the concept of Edge Computing fits into this category really well.
So, what does Edge Computing mean? Essentially, the term relates to capturing, storing, processing and analysing data close to the ‘edge’ of the network. In practical terms, this means doing the majority of computation (i.e this data processing) as close to the user and their device or browser (i.e your mobile phone) as possible.
“How does this impact retail?” I hear you say.
We can all agree that when it comes to shopping online, speed is good, right? Edge Computing allows us to create the best possible user experience online, because we’re able to do all of the necessary computing closer to your device, which means you will be able to browse a retailers catalogue much faster and more seamlessly than before (more on this later).
What would you say if I told you that you’re already engaging with Edge computation everyday - you’re just not aware of it. Let us explain.
You’ll notice that the majority of apps on your phone are usually much quicker than website pages, this is because the concept of Edge computation is inherently built into them. While the data they show you has come from the cloud, it’s processed on the device. Hullabalook takes this app-like approach when building ecommerce pages for retailers.
Unfortunately, a lot of retailers' sites are prone to delays and crashes at peak times (especially if they’re not yet based on serverless technologies). There’s a lot of reasons for this, but a big one is because every time you interact with their page - for example click on a ‘blue’ colour filter - the servers behind the website needs to analyse your decision, do some computation, work out all of the ‘blue’ products it should be showing you and then rebuild the page.
For many sites, all of this analysis is running on a server so the storefront needs to make an API call to this server in order to get all of the information it needs. This is why you often see a loading timer when you interact with filters.
Most retailers have accepted that this is unavoidable, because nobody has offered them an alternative. Hullabalook is the alternative.
Instead of making these API calls, we allow your device to ‘pull down’ this data as the user browses. We then use the computing power of their device to decide which products to show and in which order - this computation on your device is ‘at the edge’.
This decentralised approach enables us to move processes like finding all of the ‘blue’ products within a retailers catalogue, closer to where the actual data is consumed.
“If it was that simple, why hasn’t it always worked like this?” To answer this question, we need to look at the evolution of our devices.
20 years ago, when ecommerce launched online, running this sort of algorithm took a lot of computing power - the devices and browsers at that time weren’t suitable.
The reason that we can take a new approach in 2023 is because our personal devices and the browsers running on them are so powerful.
So, what are the benefits of taking an Edge Computing approach? Hullabalook-powered ecommerce pages never crash or slow down under peak traffic. No matter how many shoppers are browsing your site, our technology will continue to work and show them instant results.
Each time someone visits your site, their device is used to run your storefront algorithms. This dramatically reduces the impact to your servers.
As we said earlier - we believe that technology should enhance everyday experiences. Everyday, millions of users around the globe shop online. If they use a Hullabalook powered ecommerce page, they will never have to wait for a page to load. They will find the products they want to buy quicker and more fluidly than before.
Pretty cool, huh?