There are two main attributes that characterize the consumer of 2015 — tech savviness and impatience. Society in general has grown accustomed to having most everything merely a single button-click or screen swipe away, and it's no surprise that the digital world in which we now live has bred a generation of consumers who demand the same ease of access from their shopping experience. It needs to be streamlined, flexible and, most importantly, fast.
If you've ever been in a store when payment systems crash or self-service checkouts fail, you'll know that tensions rise rapidly. Competition is fierce in the retail sector, and customers have no qualms about taking their business elsewhere if they feel they're not getting the experience they deserve. In a 2014 research survey, we found that 51 percent of shoppers refuse to even enter a shop if the line is too long, while 68 percent will abandon a purchase for the same reason.
This shift in consumer culture hasn't been lost on retailers, and in the same survey, respondents identified the optimal customer-centric experience as a combination of excellent customer service (58 percent), fast transactions (55 percent) and interchangeable purchase channels (49 percent). However, only 35 percent of respondents described their customer experience as excellent, and 65 percent admitted to struggling with getting the omni-channel right.
Arguably, the widespread inability of retailers to perfect the omni-channel experience falls down to the simple fact that all the digital accoutrements of a modern shopping experience, like guest Wi-Fi, store-to-web, click-and-collect and self-service checkouts, have put incredible pressure on the corporate network and on a retailer's IT department. These services must remain consistently flawless to meet the high expectations of the modern shopper, and without the proper IT infrastructure to support these usages, things can (and will) go wrong. Even retail giants like Best Buy have had their applications fail during the busiest shopping periods of the year.
Nature & DÃ©couvertes, as part of our base of European retail customers, required us to prepare its network for an enterprise-wide digital transformation. With 83 locations in the European zone, Nature & DÃ©couvertes deployed the Ipanema application performance solution and was able to:
- Manage increased traffic and application flows matrix without adding network capacity
- Maximize customer omni-channel experience during peak periods
- Reduce application response time by 50 percent, and reduce network costs and OPEX costs by 50 percent and 10 percent, respectively.
The Nature & DÃ©couvertes' IT department can now detect network trouble before it impacts employees or customers in store and/or online, meaning they'll avoid the headline-grabbing outages of the likes of Best Buy. It also means the IT department can get back to doing what it's meant to do — support sales objectives and maximize the company's productivity.
Retailers need to move with the times to keep the 21st century shopper happy, but if your network infrastructure can't keep up with demand, you'll soon learn that customer loyalty is a thing of the past.
To learn more about how Nature & DÃ©couvertes deployed an application performance guarantee solution to evolve to Retail 2.0 and improve the shopper experience, please see our case study.