Soaring energy prices, rising interest rates and the wider cost of living crisis on top of ongoing global supply chain issues continuse to present huge challenges to retailers’ operations, resources and financial performance. These major headwinds are heaping pressure onto Australian businesses and retailers, with numbers slowing as they face an uncertain future.

As a result, we are seeing consumers turn to retail websites and shopping apps to buy the products and services they need, favoring the convenience, choice and speed that digital services provide.

Unsurprisingly, with people needing to make their money go further given rising costs, consumers are increasingly turning to online shopping and apps as a way to find the very best deals they can on items such as groceries, household essentials and new appliances and devices. At Cisco AppDynamics, we conducted global research (across 12 countries) exploring consumer attitudes to online shopping and the extent to which demand for deals and discounts is being impacted by current financial pressures.

We found that as many as 95% of Aussie consumers feel that it is more important for them to find great deals and cheap prices, given rising costs of living and the uncertain economic situation.

Evidently, this heightened demand for deals at this current time represents a significant opportunity for online retailers. Brands that offer and promote low prices have a chance to attract massive volumes of new online customers and drive revenue.

Shoppers now demand seamless digital experiences

However, while price is and will always be important, online retailers must recognise that in this age of ecommerce, digital experience is just as critical. Great deals alone aren’t enough to satisfy customers and keep them coming back for more. 94% of 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 72% say the experience they get when using a shopping app is just as important as the deals that are on offer.

Consumer expectations around digital experience have skyrocketed, largely driven by the fact that many of us were totally reliant on applications and digital services throughout the pandemic, particularly during lockdown. People have become far more sophisticated in their use of applications – 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.

Consumers are left feeling anxious and frustrated when they encounter problems with shopping apps and they have zero tolerance for brands that they feel let them down. Shoppers are all too aware that there is always an alternative out there that can immediately deliver the type of digital experience they want and they don’t think twice about permanently deleting a poorly performing app and switching to another brand.

Retailers need unified observability to deliver seamless digital experiences

The message for Aussie retailers is clear – they simply have to ensure they are delivering seamless digital experiences to shoppers at all times. Any slip-ups and they risk losing customers, revenue and reputation.

But for many retailers, managing IT availability and performance is becoming increasingly challenging. The rapid adoption of cloud-native technologies such as microservices and Kubernetes to support digital transformation initiatives has left IT teams struggling to get to grips with highly dynamic and sprawling multi-cloud and hybrid environments. Most technologists are unable to generate the necessary visibility and insight into applications and infrastructure running on public clouds.

These highly distributed systems utilise thousands of containers, generating an immense volume of metrics, events, logs and traces (MELT) telemetry every second. 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. Technologists are stuck in firefighting mode on the back foot, desperately trying to identify and fix performance issues before they impact digital experience.

This challenge is only going to become more severe, as retailers accelerate their adoption of no code and low code platforms to increase application release velocity. Not only will data volumes continue to rise exponentially, IT teams will also find themselves managing an expansion in cybersecurity attack surfaces. Widespread 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.

In response, Australian retail technologists need to ensure they have full and unified visibility right across their multi-cloud and hybrid environments. This means implementing an observability solution which allows them to manage and optimise 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. With real-time insights from the business transaction’s telemetry data, technologists can quickly identify the root cause of issues and expedite resolution.

Retailers across Australia should also look to integrate performance and security monitoring, to understand how vulnerabilities and incidents could impact end users and the business. Business transaction insights enable technologists to measure the importance of threats based on severity scoring, factoring in the context of the threat. This means that they can prioritise threats that could damage a business critical area of the environment or application, and leverage AI and automation to identify vulnerabilities throughout the application lifecycle.

Having the ability to generate business transaction insights in real-time, and then to view them in business-level dashboards, is essential for IT teams to cut through data noise and focus on the right things. It also enables IT leaders to measure and report on the value that digital transformation initiatives are delivering to the business and to validate their investments.

Observability enables retailers to consistently deliver the brilliant, seamless experiences that Aussie shoppers have come to expect. And it puts them in pole 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.

Gregg Ostrowski is executive chief technology officer at Cisco AppDynamics.