Retailers must prioritize cloud-native observability

To cash in on the holiday shopping blitz, retailers must meet consumer demand for both great deals and seamless digital experiences says Joe Byrne, Executive CTO, Cisco AppDynamics

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Key retail dates such as White/Yellow Friday, as well as the seasonal sales that run through December and January, present retailers in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) with a golden opportunity to drive revenues ahead of what is likely to be a tough year end for many brands.

Indeed, soaring inflation and the resulting increase in cost of living means this year in particular, consumers will primarily look for great deals.

At Cisco AppDynamics, we recently conducted global research — across 12 countries including the UAE — exploring online shopping intentions this holiday season. We found that while 93% of consumers across the Emirates say that they typically wait for online shopping dates (such as White/Yellow Friday) and holiday season sales to take advantage of low-cost deals, a staggering 98% admit 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 it is household essentials, electronics or food and drink for family celebrations, people are having to make their money go further this year. And they will undoubtedly look favorably on any brand that can provide the products that they need at lower prices.

With great deals…must come great digital experiences

In response to this heightened demand, retailers need to ensure they are leading with their very best offers this season. They currently have a tremendous opportunity to attract new customers and drive sales by offering compelling deals.

However, in addition to offering low prices and significant discounts, brands should also ensure that they are delivering seamless digital experiences to customers at all times. Online shoppers have become incredibly discerning about the applications and digital services they use; in fact, 88% of UAE consumers feel that the experience they get when using a shopping app is now just as important for them as the deals that are on offer.

Retail leaders are all too aware of the dramatic rise in expectations around digital experience over recent years. People have come to rely on applications and digital services in almost all areas of their lives and, as a result, their expectations for these services have shot up significantly. They’ve seen the incredible types of digital experiences being offered by some retailers and they’re now wanting this, from every retailer they engage with, each and every time they shop online.

In the current environment, shoppers are undoubtedly feeling under pressure to find cheap prices, and they know that they need to move quickly to secure the best deals. Almost all consumers surveyed in the UAE (99%) state that it is important that shopping applications and digital services provide a fast and seamless experience without any delays or disruption.

Customers are expecting retailers to up their game when it comes to the availability and performance of digital services, from the moment they first use an application, right through to the product arriving at their front door. Indeed, 97% of consumers across the Emirates 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.

Consumers just aren’t wowed by amazing deals alone; they simply won’t forgive poor online shopping experiences — they’ll just be left feeling frustrated and angry. In fact, 73% of consumers state that retail brands will have one shot to impress them this holiday season and if their application doesn’t perform as they expect, then they won’t use it again.


Brands must ensure they are ready to deliver optimised application performance

Retailers can’t afford to take any chances when it comes to digital experience, not when the stakes are so high this holiday season. A single slip-up could mean lost customers, potentially forever.

Business and IT leaders need to ensure that their IT teams are able to monitor and optimise IT availability and performance at all times. But the reality is that many IT departments simply don’t have the tools and insights they need to do this.

Across the retail industry, digital transformation initiatives are driving the rapid adoption of cloud native technologies, meaning that IT teams are having to manage and monitor availability and performance across vastly complex cloud native application architectures. But in most cases, they’re struggling to get visibility and insight into their applications and infrastructure running on public clouds.

Modern cloud environments have introduced new levels of complexity, with organisations scaling their IT use up and down based on real-time business needs. And while legacy monitoring solutions have evolved to track both cloud and on-prem deployments, most weren’t purpose-built to manage cloud native environments efficiently.

Today’s highly distributed systems utilise thousands of containers, generating an immense volume of metrics, events, logs and traces (MELT) telemetry every second. And most IT teams lack the tools to make sense of this deluge of data and to quickly troubleshoot application and performance issues that span hybrid environments.

This is why it’s vital for retailers to implement a modern, cloud native observability solution which allows their IT teams to manage and optimise increasingly complex and dynamic applications and technology stacks. They need a solution that 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 quickly identify the root cause of issues and expedite resolution, leveraging the power of AI and business intelligence to prioritise their actions in the right places.

For brands in the UAE that are able to combine great deals with seamless digital experiences, this holiday season offers them an incredible opportunity to take advantage of current consumer demand. On the other hand, those that overlook the critical importance of application performance and focus solely on price, risk falling behind the competition and arguably more importantly, risk losing customers not only for this holiday shopping season, but possibly for good.

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