Throughout the past two years, the success and growth of e-commerce compared to brick and mortar meant that nearly every retailer had to pivot their services, with many focusing primarily on or shifting entirely to an e-commerce model.

As COVID restrictions ease and international borders begin opening, the in-store retail market is ripe for opportunity. Tourists are unlikely to shop online, turning to physical store locations for their purchases. This presents an opportunity for agile retailers to claim a piece of the market that’s been in a state of flux for the past two years.

However, as businesses move to establish or reestablish a physical presence, customer expectations have changed, driven by an e-commerce model built around convenience and reliability. In order to re-capture ‘traditional’ retail, unified visibility will be vital in three areas.

  1. Maintaining adequate supply despite increasingly complex supply chains

The number of interdependent factors associated with supply chains (i.e. customer demand, seasonality, marketing) has a significant impact on complexity, and the process has been made even more complicated by various delivery options (next day/same day) – especially with perishable goods.

To solve for supply issues, many large retailers use forecasting—leveraging big data to analyse supply and demand and create models that predict expected demand, reduce ‘deadstock’ and ensure that all inventory arrives ‘just in time’ to be purchased. However, as supply chains become more complex, ‘just in time’ is no longer sufficient. Those seeking to stay ahead of demand have turned to technology that enables better observability across operations, with real-time insights into inventory and retail systems that provide crucial data to predict product demand and customer trends.

Unified IT observability is arming retailers with the data to better understand their customers and their market, but observability alone is not enough without the intelligent systems required to collate and deliver these insights. Ultimately, for retailers wanting to revitalise their brick-and-mortar spaces, it requires a combination of the two, pairing visibility and intelligent platforms to eliminate issues detrimental to the customer experience.

  1. Complete visibility for a seamless customer experience

There are many different factors affecting a customer’s experience and engagement with online brands; slight changes to application load times or poor checkout experiences can lose fickle customers quickly, and this issue is only compounded in-store.

Mobile applications are often the first point of contact for customers, making these systems key parts of both in-store and online success. For this reason, it’s essential retailers shift their perspective of in-store and online from two separate offerings to a single seamless experience for customers. This approach solves the challenges of service discrepancies and inefficiencies between brick and mortar and e-commerce, creating a cohesive experience for customers.

Today, slow, buggy applications cost customers. Unified observability helps solve this issue, helping retailers quickly address mobile issues and support better ways for customers to engage with retailers, enhancing the user experience.

  1. Minimising in-store operations cost 

Identifying energy efficiency opportunities is especially important for larger organisations with a public mandate to be responsible for their corporation’s behaviour; however, it can also impact final revenue. With minor changes made across supply chains, retailers can significantly impact the cost of running both e-commerce and in-store offerings. For retailers and e-tailers, this starts with visibility; if you have visibility across in-store systems, you can measure their performance, shed any unnecessary hardware or systems, and reveal crucial insights in your supply chain that may have previously gone unnoticed that will enable your company to reduce costs or enhance performance.

In an industry where consumers are very cost-conscious and increasingly fickle, a seamless retail experience is essential to keeping customers happy. Using technology to reduce downtime within your online and in-store marketplace and predict trends before they happen is key to not only improving customer experience, but keeping ahead of the competition.

In today’s complex technology environment, having complete visibility into and control over your infrastructure, applications, critical business systems and business performance could be the differentiating factor that sets your business apart from the rest.

Richard Gerdis is vice president and general manager for Asia Pacific at LogicMonitor.