IT Departments Must Be Ready to Manage Influx of Online Shopping Over Black Friday and Cyber Monday
November 22, 2023

Gregg Ostrowski
AppDynamics

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Within retail organizations across the world, IT teams will be bracing themselves for a hectic holiday season. Retail technologists are well versed in what key holiday shopping dates such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday mean for them — long hours and immense pressure as they try to ensure applications and digital services are operating at peak performance and are able to withstand huge spikes in demand.

However, this year, the pressure on IT teams is set to intensify. A recent Cisco AppDynamics survey of more than 12,000 global consumers reveals this holiday season is likely to see record levels of online shopping. Compared to last year, 43% of consumers expect to do more of their holiday shopping online (through applications and digital services) on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, while only 13% expect to do less.


Source: Cisco AppDynamics

While this is an exciting opportunity for retailers to boost sales, it also intensifies severe risk. Any application performance slipup will cause consumers to turn their back on brands, possibly forever. Online shoppers will be completely unforgiving to any retailer who doesn't deliver a seamless digital experience.

With this in mind, retailers urgently need to ensure their IT teams have the right tools and insights to manage application availability and performance over the holiday season and beyond.

Technologists Must Ensure Applications Are Set to Handle Unprecedented Peaks in Demand

The research suggests the proportion of money spent online versus in-store is set to jump this year. Specifically, consumers expect 59% of their spending on Black Friday and Cyber Monday will be online versus in-store, compared to 53% last year. People are turning to applications and digital services to find great deals and stretch their money. They prefer the ease and convenience of online shopping compared to tiring and time-consuming trips to stores.

Despite the soaring appetite for online shopping, the research also presents a stark warning from consumers for any retail brand who fails to provide a seamless digital experience. Today's shoppers don't have the time or patience to tolerate problems with applications and 64% of people admit a poor digital experience will leave them feeling anxious and angry.

Whether it's outages, slow loading or unresponsive pages or problems with payment transactions, consumers believe there is no excuse for poor online shopping experiences. In fact, 58% state they will only give retailers one chance to impress them with their applications this holiday season. If the application doesn't perform as intended, then shoppers will immediately delete it and be inclined to look for an alternative option. There is also the risk that they'll share their negative experiences with friends and family or on social media, deterring other consumers from using those services.

IT Teams Need Unified Visibility Into Modern Application Environments to Deliver Seamless Digital Experiences

Rapid adoption of cloud native technologies has enabled organizations to accelerate their innovations, but it has resulted in IT departments being engulfed by complexity and data noise from an increasingly fragmented application environment.

Many IT teams don't have visibility into containers and Kubernetes environments, and not a clear line of sight for applications with components running across cloud native and on-premises environments. This is making it incredibly difficult to quickly identify issues and easily understand root causes.

Technologists are stuck in firefighting mode, operating under relentless pressure, and constantly scrambling to resolve issues before they impact end users. They're being bombarded by alerts and performance data, but they can't cut through the noise to work out which issues they need to prioritize. Unfortunately, the situation is likely to intensify over the coming weeks with the massive spikes in traffic that we're expecting.

It is up to retailers to support their IT teams this holiday season and ensure their applications are prepared to take advantage of heightened demand. A first step will be enabling IT teams with full and unified visibility across their multi-cloud and hybrid environments.

Solutions like application observability can serve as a single source of truth for all application availability and performance data, with telemetry data from cloud native environments and agent-based entities within legacy applications being ingested into the same platform. This allows IT teams to correlate application performance data with key business metrics like conversions, so they can prioritize issues that pose a greater risk to digital experience.

With the support from their retailer and solutions such as application observability, technologists can regain their footing and adopt a more proactive approach to managing their applications. They can deliver the digital experiences that consumers now highly value and ensure their organizations are able to take full advantage of heightened consumer demand.

Gregg Ostrowski is CTO Advisor at Cisco AppDynamics
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