How to Make Sure You and Your Apps Are Ready for the Holiday Season
As we approach Black Friday and Cyber Monday, retail leaders need to be thinking now about how to ensure technologies and teams are prepared for the heaviest shopping days of the year.
Last year on Black Friday, more shoppers went online than visited brick-and-mortar stores, according to the National Retail Federation. With the concerns of the pandemic still prevalent as we look into the 2020 holiday season, the number of people shopping completely online will likely be exponentially higher this year.
Some IT teams may be feeling confident heading into the holiday surge, having updated systems and processes before and during COVID-19 as more people shopped online for daily essentials. In the AppDynamics 2020 Agents of Transformation Report, we found that 71 percent of the technologists surveyed said digital transformation projects were moving more rapidly this year as teams scaled up to accommodate more virtual interactions.
However, even with the increased preparedness overall, IT teams need to be extra ready for holiday shoppers. Customers have too many options on these key shopping days to be tolerant of poor application or website performance while trying to score the best deal. In AppDynamics’ 2019 App Attention Index, more than three-quarters of consumers reported that their expectations of how well digital services should perform were increasing.
Here are three things to consider to meet those high consumer expectations:
1. There's still time to create a plan.
As we all settle into the final months of 2020, the holidays will be upon us before we know it. However, there's still time to get a plan in place for Black Friday.
The first step is to make sure you understand the baseline performance of your applications and websites. These baselines may be different from last year, so be sure to take an updated look. Then, set your goals for Black Friday through Cyber Monday. Some questions to consider include:
- Is your environment set up to auto-scale to handle usage spikes?
- Is there a plan in place for browsers vs. shoppers who know precisely what they want to buy?
- Do you have the ability to report real-time business analytics to track revenue?
- What about inventory left in shopping carts?
Tools such as application performance monitoring (APM) solutions can help monitor applications, infrastructure and business metrics in real time, catching issues such as heavier-than-expected traffic or drops in successful transactions as they happen to create a smoother customer experience overall. This leads us to the next consideration.
2. Stay focused on the customer experience.
Slow performance anywhere in the sales conversion path can damage a customer’s impression of the brand.
In the App Attention Index, two-thirds of consumers claimed they would avoid trying a brand known for delivering poor digital experiences. No matter why a slowdown or glitch on any customer-facing website or application happens, a bad experience for a consumer can lead to lost revenue.
Many applications are powering the purchasing path and working behind the scenes to make sure the customer gets the exact deal they're hoping for this holiday season. Even the most indistinguishable inconvenience to a customer can lead to a negative experience, so why chance it?
3. Be prepared, but flexible.
While the goal is to show up on Black Friday and Cyber Monday as prepared as possible, it’s also important to be ready for anything. Teams that have done their homework and have the right tools in place will be in good shape to have a successful holiday sales experience, but you also need to be able to adjust in real time to a situation. A holistic monitoring solution can keep an eye on the entire ecosystem and address those real-time issues.
If your IT team can get Black Friday and Cyber Monday right, it can continue to build a foundation for an ongoing customer relationship based on the ability to deliver a consistent, high-quality experience — and build long-lasting customer loyalty. Failure to prepare or to adjust to what's happening in real time can both have a detrimental impact through lost revenue and lost customers.
Gregg Ostrowski is regional chief technology officer at AppDynamics, a Cisco company. AppDynamics is an application performance management (APM) and IT operations analytics (ITOA) company.
Related story: 3 Crucial Challenges Retailers Can Overcome With AIOps
Gregg Ostrowski is regional chief technology officer at AppDynamics, an application performance monitoring and management platform.
Gregg is a senior executive and thought leader with over 20 years’ experience in leadership positions for companies like Research in Motion and Samsung. He has worked with many F1000 customers, Government Agencies and partners on digital transformation, mobility application deployments, DevOps strategies, Analytics and high ROI business solutions.