With the rising cost of living affecting people in many countries, this year more than ever consumers are targeting a wave of online shopping events that are now a key part of the retail calendar across the world. Whether it will be Back to School deals, Black Friday or Cyber Monday or the traditional holiday season sales which have taken place throughout December and January, shoppers are looking to find the very best deals that they can to remain budget conscious amidst the economic headwinds- whether that’s on household essentials, groceries or new clothes and gadgets.

However, with most of this shopping now taking place online, consumers will have zero tolerance for any online retailer that fails to provide anything less than a unique and seamless digital experience. As online shoppers scramble to find the very best deals, they simply won’t have the time or patience to put up with poorly performing applications. The moment they encounter a problem, they will immediately turn their back on the app and brand, and switch to an alternative.

For retailers, the heightened demand for online shopping amongst consumers presents a huge opportunity to attract new customers and drive sales. Those brands that are able to combine great deals with seamless digital experiences will win over customers and drive brand loyalty.

Universal demand for great deals as rising costs of living and inflation hit Australian consumers

At Cisco AppDynamics, we recently conducted global research (across 12 countries) exploring the consumer attitudes during some of the peak seasonal shopping moments of 2022 such as Black Friday and holiday sales, and the extent to which demand for deals and discounts will be impacted by current financial pressures.

We found that during the holiday period, 80% of Australian consumers relied on online shopping applications and services and, significantly, as many as 93% feel that it is going to be more important for them to find great deals and cheap prices this year, given rising costs of living and the uncertain economic situation.

Evidently, the soaring demand for deals during the holiday period represents a massive opportunity for every corner of the retail sector. Brands that offer and promote low prices have a chance to attract massive volumes of new customers and drive revenue.

Great deals aren’t enough – shoppers also want seamless digital experiences

However, retailers need to recognise that great deals on their own aren’t enough to impress customers. 88% of Australian consumers reported that it is also important that online shopping apps and digital services provide a fast and seamless experience without any delays or disruption, and 68% say the experience they get when using a shopping app is just as important as the deals that are on offer.

Over the last three years, consumer expectations around digital experience have skyrocketed. Since the start of the pandemic, people have increasingly been exposed to a wider range of applications and they’ve experienced the very best, most innovative digital services available. They have seen first hand the type of digital shopping experiences that some brands are now delivering and they see no reason why they shouldn’t get the same each and every time they engage with an online retail brand

Indeed, shoppers now have zero tolerance for apps that are slow and unresponsive. 82% of Australian consumers claim that it doesn’t matter how good the deals are that retailers are offering, there is still no excuse for poor online shopping experiences, and 56% state that if the applications and digital services that they used during the holiday season to find great deals  failed to perform,  leaving them feeling anxious and angry.

Shoppers just won’t put up with poorly performing apps and they know that there is always an alternative out there that can immediately deliver the type of digital experience they want. So the moment that they encounter an issue with an application, they don’t think twice about permanently deleting it and switching to another brand.

Interestingly, in our App Attention Index research in 2021, 58% of Australians stated that brands have only one shot to impress them and that if their digital service doesn’t perform, they won’t use it again. In this new survey, this figure has risen to 60%, indicating how digital experience is even more critical in the current environment, when people are placing such huge importance on finding and securing great deals.

Retailers must focus on digital experience to benefit from key retail dates

The message for retailers is clear – it’s simply not enough to put all of their focus on low prices. They also need to ensure they’re delivering seamless digital experiences to shoppers at all times.

But within many retail IT teams, 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 trying to manage vastly complex cloud-native application architectures. In many cases, they’re struggling to generate the necessary visibility and insight into applications and infrastructure running on public clouds.

Today’s highly distributed systems utilise thousands of containers, generating an immense volume of metrics, events, logs and traces (MELT) telemetry every second. Most IT teams don’t have the tools to make sense of this deluge of data and are therefore unable to quickly troubleshoot application and performance issues that span hybrid environments. Technologists are having to operate on the back foot, urgently trying to identify and fix performance issues before they impact customer experience.

To overcome this growing problem, retailers need 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, and enables them 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, ensuring that their applications are primed to deliver the brilliant, seamless experiences that shoppers now expect.

Retailers that are able to combine great deals with world-class application performance over the coming weeks will undoubtedly put themselves in position to attract customers and drive sales. But those who focus solely on low prices, neglecting digital experience, risk seeing huge numbers of customers walking away forever.

Gregg Ostrowski is executive chief technology officer at Cisco AppDynamics.