Brought to you by Cisco AppDynamics
By Abhilash Purushothaman, regional vice president (Asia), Cisco AppDynamics
As retail leaders look ahead to 2023, many will understandably be feeling cautious about what lies ahead and the need for retail brands to take full advantage of the immediate opportunity in front of them – the busy holiday season – has taken on a new level of importance.
At Cisco AppDynamics, we recently conducted global research (across 12 countries) exploring online shopping intentions this holiday season. We found that, more than ever, consumers are seeking out low-price offers during key shopping moments this year as a way to make their money go further and they’re looking to brands to provide them with the very best deals.
But, interestingly, we found that online shoppers not only require great prices and for their packages to arrive on time – they also want brands to provide them with brilliant, seamless digital experiences when they’re using apps and digital services. If applications don’t perform properly, then customers will turn their back on brands, no matter how low their prices.
Retail leaders should take note – price is critical, but so too is application performance.
Consumers relying on holiday deals to enjoy the holiday season
Whether it’s Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Singles Day or the traditional seasonal sales that run throughout December and January, shoppers around the world now focus their holiday shopping around key dates. Eight-eight per cent of consumers say that they typically wait for online shopping dates and holiday sales to take advantage of discounts and low-cost deals.
This year, however, the need for people to secure the very best possible prices has risen to a whole new level. As many as 97 per cent of consumers state that it is more important for them to find great deals and cheap prices this year, given rising costs of living and the uncertain economic situation.
Whether they’re buying gifts for their loved ones, household essentials or treating themselves to new clothes and devices, people are determined to make their budgets stretch further this year.
They still want to be able to enjoy this special time of year in much the same way as they usually would and they’re relying on online retail brands to provide compelling deals and discounts to allow them to buy the products they need for less.
Digital experience is critical as shoppers hunt down bargains
Shoppers are undoubtedly feeling under pressure to find cheap prices and they know that they need to move quickly to secure the best deals. As a result, 99 per cent state that it is important that shopping apps and digital services provide a fast and seamless experience without any delays or disruption.
Consumers are looking for retailers to up their game when it comes to the availability and performance of digital services, from the moment they first engage with the brand, right through to the product arriving at their front door.
Indeed, 96 per cent of consumers feel that, this year, it’s important for retailers to provide regular updates on the status of online purchases, given ongoing supply chain issues and increased anxiety around receiving holiday gifts on time.
Significantly, the research reveals that more than three quarters of online shoppers are now actually attaching the same level of importance to the digital experience that retailers are able to deliver as they do to the prices on offer. Expectations around digital experience continue to soar as consumers are exposed to the most innovative and intuitive apps available on the market.
People believe that there is simply no excuse for brands delivering poor online shopping experiences, and they will be left feeling anxious and angry if an app or digital service that they’re using for holiday shopping fails.
Ultimately, online shoppers will vote with their feet if they encounter poor digital experiences over the coming weeks. Seventy-two per cent of consumers claim that retail brands will have one shot to impress them this holiday season, and that if their digital service or application does not perform, then they won’t use it again.
In this high-pressure environment, there are no second chances for retailers – the first sign of a problem when using an app and almost three quarters of their customers will turn their back and walk away, possibly never to return.
Technologists must be equipped to succeed in the high-pressure holiday season
Of course, in today’s digital-first environment, the need for organisations to optimise IT availability and performance is critical at all times, irrespective of the time of year. Brands simply cannot afford any slip-ups in performance.
Retailers need to ensure that their applications, supporting infrastructure and third-party services (like payment services for example) are able to stand up to the huge spikes in demand that the holiday season brings. But for the vast majority of IT departments, this is easier said than done.
Retail IT teams increasingly find themselves trying to manage and monitor availability and performance across vastly complex cloud-native application architectures. In many cases, they’re struggling to gain visibility into applications and infrastructure running on public clouds. The result of this lack of insight is IT teams being constantly stuck in firefighting mode, trying to identify and fix performance issues before they impact end user experience.
IT teams therefore need a modern, cloud-native observability solution which allows them to manage and optimise increasingly complex and dynamic applications and technology stacks and enables them to monitor the health of key business transactions distributed across their entire technology landscape.
With access to quick insights from the business transaction’s telemetry data, technologists can easily identify the root cause of issues and expedite resolution, leveraging the power of AI and business intelligence to prioritise actions in a cloud-native environment.
With improved visibility into IT availability and performance, technologists can ensure that customers are able to enjoy seamless and brilliant digital experiences throughout the holiday season and beyond. And in doing so, they can ensure that their organisations are able to take full advantage of current consumer demand.