Amazon Simple Notification Service (SNS) is a cloud-based messaging service that enables applications, end-users, and devices to communicate with each other. As a seller in 2023, SNS should be a core part of your ecommerce tech stack.
In this comprehensive guide, I‘ll explain what Amazon SNS is, how it works, pricing details, and most importantly – how you as an ecommerce seller can leverage SNS to streamline operations, reduce costs, and enhance customer experience.
What Does Amazon SNS Do?
SNS allows sending notifications from one application to many other applications, services, and users in a highly scalable way.
With SNS, you create "topics" which act as communication channels. Any message published to a topic is instantly pushed to all subscribed endpoints like email addresses, AWS services, mobile apps, SMS etc.
For an ecommerce seller, the key capabilities SNS provides include:
Order notifications – Instant order confirmation via SMS and emails.
Customer alerts – Shipment tracking updates, delivery notices, promotion alerts sent via push notifications and text.
Inventory management -Receive alerts for low stock levels to your ERP.
Workflow automation – Trigger product reorder, 3PL logistics, and fulfillment processes.
Service reliability – Monitor website and app uptime, get alerts on failures.
Marketing engagement – Send targeted campaigns by integrating with email providers.
Analytics events – Track user behaviors and product metrics.
So in summary, SNS is your central communication hub for coordinating systems, apps, partners, customers and internal teams.
Why SNS is Essential for Ecommerce Sellers
Maintaining reliable, scalable and cost-efficient communication channels is crucial for ecommerce success, but building it yourself is complex. This is where SNS comes in.
Here are some key benefits SNS provides for online sellers:
Operational efficiency – Automate and streamline order and inventory workflows.
Faster fulfillment – Real-time alerts to quickly react to changes.
Improved CX – Increase satisfaction and engagement through notifications.
Cost savings – Pay-as-you-use, no infrastructure to manage.
Reliability – Messages delivered redundantly across AZs if endpoints fail.
Flexibility – Support for diverse protocols like SMS, email, SQS, Lambda etc.
Scalability – Auto-scales to support extremely high message volumes as you grow.
Security – Encryption and fine-grained access controls.
Compliance – Ensure orders, shipments, and customer data is processed properly.
Observability – Detailed visibility into notification delivery with CloudWatch.
Lower risks – No single point of failure, ensure business continuity.
For any seller, being able to provide timely updates to customers and rapidly respond to changes can be a huge competitive advantage. This is where SNS shines.
Key SNS Capabilities and Features
Here are some of the key capabilities SNS provides:
Reliable message delivery – Messages persisted across AZs until processed. Automatic retries for failed deliveries.
Message filtering – Subscribers only receive relevant messages via filtering rules.
Batching – Group messages together to reduce delivery costs.
Security – Encryption in transit and at rest. VPC endpoints for private access.
Monitoring – CloudWatch metrics for publish, delivery and other operational insights.
High performance -Millions of messages delivered per second across distributed endpoints.
Elastic scale – Auto-scales to handle any message volume without bottlenecks.
Broad API support – Send and receive messages via REST APIs, AWS SDKs, and MQTT APIs.
Easy integration – Seamless integration with other AWS services like SQS, Lambda, S3 etc.
Flexible protocols – Support for push-based delivery via SMS, mobile push, email etc.
These capabilities make SNS a robust messaging backbone for workloads where reliability, security, scale and cost matter.
SNS Pricing Overview
One of the advantages of SNS is the pay-as-you-go approach with no upfront fees or minimum commitments. As an ecommerce seller, you only pay for what you use each month based on:
Number of API requests – Calling SNS APIs to publish messages or manage topics.
Number of deliveries – Charges for sending messages to endpoints like SMS, email etc.
Here is a breakdown of the SNS pricing for sellers as of October 2023:
|Standard topic API request||$0.60 per 1 million requests|
|FIFO topic API request||$0.50 per 1 million requests|
|HTTP/S notification delivery||$0.60 per 1 million requests|
|Email delivery||$0.10 per message|
|SMS delivery||$0.075 per message|
Typical discounts apply for higher tiers. SMS charged only for delivered messages.
To compare, sending 10,000 order confirmation SMS per month at $0.075 per message would cost just $750 with SNS!
Managing your own messaging infrastructure will cost significantly more in terms of server costs, engineering time, and lack of reliability.
Getting Started with SNS as a Seller
Here is an overview of how to get started with SNS for your ecommerce business:
Sign up – Create an AWS account if you don‘t have one already. SNS is included.
Create topics – Set up topics for different purposes like orders, inventory etc.
Configure subscriptions – Add SMS, email, app endpoints to receive alerts.
Develop publishers – Write code to publish messages to topics.
Integrate – Leverage AWS SDKs to connect SNS with your apps and systems.
Monitor – Use CloudWatch to track key SNS metrics. Get alerts on critical issues.
Scale – Over time, optimize architecture and add topics, subscriptions as you grow.
Here are some best practices:
Start small and iterate – No need for complex setup initially.
Use SNS CLI – Allows testing and prototyping different types of messages and endpoints.
Validate deliveries – Log and audit messages for compliance.
Monitor costs – Alert on significant budget changes or spikes.
Fan out broadly – Leverage SNS to consolidate disparate channels.
Secure access – Use IAM policies, VPC endpoints to restrict access.
SNS Use Cases and Integrations for Sellers
Here are just a few examples of how sellers can benefit from SNS:
Confirmation SMS and emails to customers once order processed.
SMS alerts to warehouse staff to start fulfillment.
Metrics published to analytics systems.
Out of stock alerts sent to ERP.
Automated re-order messages to suppliers.
Shipment tracking event alerts via SMS to buyers.
Automated delivery notices by integrating with 3PL APIs.
Email and mobile push notifications for abandoned cart or price drop promotions.
Auto-messaging using customer data for personalized offers.
Scaling order surges
Instantly ramp up warehouse staff when order spike occurs.
Ensure fulfillment capacity by monitoring queue size with SQS.
Real-time alerts when website or apps experience outages.
Help ensure 24/7 availability and minimize revenue impact.
Automated ordering assistance via chatbots.
Event triggers to notify support staff.
SNS can essentially act as the nervous system connecting all the various applications, systems and parties involved in running an ecommerce business. The possibilities are endless.
Alternatives to Amazon SNS for Sellers
The most common alternatives to SNS are either building and managing your own messaging systems or using a 3rd party provider like PubNub, Twilio or Pusher.
But the costs, time, resources and risks involved make this impractical for most sellers:
High infrastructure costs – Require servers, database management, networking expertise etc.
Engineering time – Months of development and ongoing management time.
Lack of scale – Difficult to handle massive traffic during peak sale events.
No built-in integrations – Complex to connect with rest of your ecommerce tech stack.
Higher latency – Difficult to achieve low latency needed for instant order notifications.
Lower reliability – No built-in redundancy across data centers.
Unpredictable costs – Paying for idle capacity and infrastructure overhead.
The simplicity, pay-as-you-use model and tight integration with AWS services give SNS a significant advantage over any self-managed approach.
3rd party services also lack SNS‘s reliability, security and scalability. They have opaque pricing and the risk of vendor lock-in.
For serious ecommerce sellers, SNS is a more robust, cost-efficient and future-proof approach compared to alternatives.
Key Takeaways and Next Steps
Here are the key takeaways from this guide on leveraging Amazon SNS as an ecommerce seller:
SNS enables publishing messages to many subscribers and endpoints instantly.
Key benefits include operational efficiency, cost savings, flexibility, scale, and reliability.
SNS is essential for modern sellers to drive automation, gain insights, and enhance customer experience.
Pay-as-you-go pricing means only paying for what you use with no minimums or upfront costs.
Tight integration with AWS services makes it easy to leverage SNS in your tech stack.
SNS has significant advantages over managing your own messaging or using limited 3rd party alternatives.
To get started, I recommend signing up for an AWS account, going through SNS tutorials, and starting small with low-risk use cases like order confirmations.
Over time, expand your use of SNS for inventory alerts, logistics coordination, personalized marketing, and other innovative ways to streamline ecommerce operations.
With SNS as a core part of your messaging infrastructure, you can focus on delighting customers rather than infrastructure management. The service scales, secures and simplifies communication so you can concentrate on growing your online business.