Holiday Retail Booming - Dependable Application Performance is a Must
December 14, 2015

Matthieu Silbermann
InfoVista

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Retail forecasts were on target for the extended Thanksgiving weekend this year, with sales figures for the period indicating it was the strongest start of the holiday shopping season ever recorded . But while Cyber Monday was touted as the best time for online bargains, billions of dollars still went to brick-and-mortar retailers offering steep discounts.

One trend that caught retailers by surprise this year was the speed with which all of the mayhem came to a halt. Traffic at many locations dissipated by mid-afternoon on Black Friday as savvy shoppers took advantage of mobile applications and interactive, in-store sales tools to target bargains within minutes of crossing the threshold.

In-store purchasing systems like tablet-based applications gave retailers the upper hand in helping consumers save time shopping – which is critical as the holiday season comes to a close. Rather than leaving customers to their own devices, a sales associate can use an app to input the consumers' needs and quickly determine what product – and at what price – is the best fit.

This past year, a British consumer technology retailer implemented such a program in their stores. To help streamline operations among 1,300 locations, their tablet-based application relies upon lightning-fast broadband to run tablets used by sales associates on the floor. This helps the customer speed up their buying experience, allowing them to more easily explore other purchases while freeing up sales associates to pursue a greater number of potential leads.

In-store purchasing systems like this are not only great for spotting bargains, but also for speeding up and easing an otherwise frenzied shopping season. This is especially true on such storied shopping holidays as Black Friday when discounted inventories are limited. Once prized sales merchandise is no longer available, shoppers will need all the help they can get in the weeks leading up to the New Year to find suitable alternatives while prices are still low.

Now that the holiday shopping season is in full swing, retailers and buyers alike must ensure that their resources are dependable. Not only will stores need to utilize advanced shopping technology, but also systems to support their apps and devices that are running on all cylinders. An application performance tool can guarantee delivery of actionable visibility and in-depth network and application performance information to IT managers to make sure systems aren't overwhelmed during high periods of traffic. By allowing full control of application flow, IT complexity is simplified and the customer experience is reshaped – hopefully resulting in higher customer spending.

Holiday purchases are estimated to account for 19 percent of all retail sales in 2015, which in total will come to $3.2 trillion dollars, according to the National Retail Federation. The weekend following Thanksgiving only accounts for a small portion of that total, which means retailers need to be on their top game throughout the rest of the month if they want to capitalize on the season's financial potential.

Matthieu Silbermann is Director Product Management at InfoVista.

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