How HUAWEI CLOUD is Driving E-Commerce

The e-commerce market in South Africa has been experiencing significant growth over the past few years, notably since a sharp rise during the pandemic lockdown, when everyone was forced to rely on online shopping options.

The growth of this market has seen a number of startups in this space, according to George Thomas, Director, Cloud Sales, at Huawei Cloud Southern Africa, which have sought out different platforms to help them grow their businesses to become more competitive.

“E-commerce players seek innovative solutions to help them differentiate themselves from the competition. This can be achieved by leveraging the right cloud platform and technology, to deliver the innovation required by e-commerce,” he says.

“One way to do so is by leveraging new technologies and trends. Both virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technologies are massive trends, with VR expected to triple in use by 2028, and AR to grow five times faster than VR. In an e-commerce setting, AR allows a consumer to simply point their phone at a chosen area in the home and see exactly how the product they are purchasing will look in that setting, from a 360-degree perspective.”

Thomas points to ‘social selling’ as another trend. By integrating artificial intelligence (AI) and big data and analytics into a social selling platform, companies are able to improve their targeting of customers’ needs while also reducing wastage, which leads to improved margins.

Xhead: AI and analytics

“The key lies in integrating AI and analytics in such a way to understand your consumers’ habits and preferences more effectively. If, for example, you know exactly what products to stock for customers in specific regions, you will be able to maximise your profit margin.

“This is why it’s critical to choose the right cloud provider, one with the latest digital solutions, like AI and analytics, built into the platform. Remember that any deep insight into consumer behaviour needs to be compliant with local laws like the Protection of Personal Information Act (PoPIA). This requires not only strong security, but also the ability to parse consumer data for trends, while still ensuring personal information remains anonymous. It’s for this reason we recommend that e-commerce providers work closely with a security-conscious hyperscaler capable of integrating these technologies in the right manner.”

Thomas suggests that because Huawei’s datacentres are locally situated, the company complies with all relevant local data privacy and security laws. At the same time, he indicates that Huawei Cloud is also certified with global security standards, meaning the platform complies with both international and local legislation.

Asked about the challenges e-commerce entities may face, Thomas notes that for smaller businesses, the major challenge lies in scaling their site in a local, regional and global manner, taking into account issues like latency, bandwidth costs, and connectivity.

Xhead: Datacentre Footprint

“Enterprises tend to face other challenges. For example, how to adapt and integrate advanced analytics into their services. Something like this requires a huge investment in research and development (R&D), which is why Huawei Cloud is the better choice. Every year, Huawei Cloud invests a significant portion of its returns into R&D, and is able to obtain, deploy, support and deliver the technology required,” he says.

“Huawei Cloud has recognised the importance of a strong cloud platform for the e-commerce market, developing a number of cloud-native solutions that are suitable for those seeking to differentiate themselves through innovation. For example, we offer a voice search with AI integration, allowing end customers to search for specific products through the spoken word.”

Furthermore, Huawei has deployed 29 regions, 78 Availability Zones (AZs) and more than 2,800 Content Delivery Network (CDN) nodes, offering big data and analytics platform, Video on Demand and live streaming capabilities with unique compression rates designed to reduce the bandwidth being used, while still offering high-quality videos. This means that e-commerce sites can rapidly load and stream videos, without any loss in quality.

“In order to grow your e-commerce business rapidly and globally, it’s vital you use a cloud platform that can grow with you. Huawei Cloud offers both vertical and horizontal scalability for such clients. This scalability encompasses compute, bandwidth, storage and advanced intelligent services.

“The beauty of such scalability for an e-commerce provider is that they can demand additional resources for a specific event – something like the traditional Black Friday sales, for example – and can then scale back down as soon as this period is over,” he notes.

He points out that one of the biggest challenges still for e-commerce providers, is their ability to access the relevant cloud skills.

“Huawei Cloud, of course, is committed to providing the requisite training to clients to ensure they are familiar with the platform. We provide fully-funded training and enablement program to support them and ensure their people are cloud-certified – this approach to training and certification is something we consider to be one of our key differentiators.

“We view ourselves as technology partners that focus on adding business value to our clients – we don’t merely provide solutions and then charge them for their use. Instead, we work closely with each e-commerce client to ensure that they can maximise their sales by leveraging the cloud from both a

technical and business point of view. This is because we are never just selling product; we are in for the long haul and aim to build long-lasting relationships with all our clients,” he concludes.