Sunday, May 26, 2024

The importance of digital experience for retailers in the eCommerce age

Gregg Ostrowski, CTO Advisor, Cisco AppDynamics

Retailers are currently facing significant difficulties in their operations, resources, and financial performance, as a consequence of the rising costs of energy, a broader cost of living crisis caused by inflation, and persistent disruptions in global supply chains. According to a recent CBC News report on the 2023 Canada economic forecast, analysts predict Canadians will have a challenging year ahead, with inflation rates remaining high and interest rates potentially rising further. 

Despite the economic climate, online retail continues to deliver steady expansion. The Canadian eCommerce market is projected to grow by more than 10 per cent between 2023 and 2027, resulting in a market volume of US$90.14bn in 2027. Consumers are opting for digital shopping channels such as retail websites and shopping apps for their convenience, speed, and wider selection of products and services. 

Due to increasing costs, people are trying to stretch their money, and as a result, are utilizing online shopping and apps to secure the best deals possible on various items such as groceries, household necessities, and new gadgets. Recently at Cisco AppDynamics, we conducted global research (across 12 countries including Canada) exploring consumer attitudes to online shopping and the extent of demand for deals and discounts being impacted by current financial pressures. 

According to our findings, 87 per cent of Canadian consumers believe that finding excellent deals and lower prices is increasingly important in light of the escalating cost of living and economic instability. A result is that brands who offer and promote low prices have a chance to attract massive volumes of new online customers and drive revenue.

Meeting the Demands of Today’s Digital Shoppers

While providing deals is essential, it’s equally important for online merchants to understand that in the current ecommerce climate, creating a positive digital experience for customers is crucial for the long-term success of their business. 91 per cent of Canadian consumers report that it is also important that online shopping apps and digital services provide a fast and seamless experience without any delays or disruption, and 63 per cent say the experience they get when using a shopping app is just as important as the deals being offered.

The demand for a seamless digital experience from consumers has grown rapidly, fueled in large part by the widespread reliance on digital applications and services during the pandemic, especially during lockdowns. Buyers have grown more sophisticated in their use of applications as they have seen the high-quality online shopping experiences that some brands now offer, and they have come to expect the same each and every time they go to make a purchase. 

About 81 per cent of Canadian consumers believe that offering attractive deals alone is not enough to justify a poor online shopping experience. When encountering issues with shopping apps, consumers feel a sense of frustration and anxiety and exhibit zero tolerance for brands that fail to meet their expectations. Shoppers are aware that they can easily find a substitute that instantly delivers the kind of digital experience they expect and have no reservations about completely uninstalling an underperforming app and switching to another brand. This is why it’s imperative for brands to deliver a seamless digital experience to retain their customers.

Achieving Seamless Digital Retail Experience with Unified Observability

Retailers need to pay attention to this clear message – they must ensure they are always delivering seamless digital experiences to shoppers. If any errors occur, they risk losing customers, revenue and reputation.

However, a growing number of retailers are finding it harder to handle the availability and performance of their IT systems. The quick adoption of cloud native technologies such as microservices and Kubernetes to support digital transformation initiatives has left IT teams struggling to tackle highly dynamic and sprawling multi-cloud and hybrid environments. Truthfully, most technologists are unable to generate the necessary visibility and insight into applications and infrastructure that are running on public clouds. 

The highly distributed systems utilize thousands of containers, generating an immense volume of metrics, events, logs and traces (MELT) telemetry every second. A reality is that IT teams don’t have the tools to make sense of this deluge of data and therefore it is incredibly difficult to troubleshoot application and performance issues that span multi-cloud and hybrid environments. This means technologists are stuck in firefighting mode, desperately trying to identify and fix performance issues before they impact the digital experience.

The strain is expected to heighten as retailers expedite their usage of no code and low code platforms to enhance the speed of application release. Data volumes will continue to rise exponentially. IT teams will also find themselves managing an expansion in cybersecurity attack surfaces. Extensive adoption of multi-cloud environments means that application components are increasingly running on a mix of platforms and on-premise databases, and this is exposing visibility gaps and heightening the risk of a potentially crippling security event. 

To face this challenge, retail technologists need to ensure they have full and unified visibility across their multi-cloud and hybrid environments. This means implementing an observability solution which allows them to manage and optimize increasingly complex and dynamic applications and technology stacks. IT teams need to be able to monitor the health of key business transactions distributed across their entire technology landscape.Technologists can swiftly identify the cause of problems and accelerate their resolution by utilizing real-time data obtained from the telemetry of business transactions.

Integrating performance and security monitoring is important for retailers to understand the potential impact of vulnerabilities and incidents on their end users and business. By utilizing business transaction insights, technologists can measure the severity of threats and consider their context, allowing them to prioritize their responses.

Retailers can ensure consistent delivery of exceptional and effortless e-commerce experiences demanded by customers by utilizing observability. This puts them in a privileged position to drive market share and revenue in what promises to be, despite challenging economic conditions, a period of strong and sustainable growth in ecommerce.


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Gregg Ostrowski
Gregg Ostrowski
Gregg Ostrowski is executive CTO at AppDynamics.