James Harvey, Executive CTO EMEAR, AppDynamics

James Harvey is an experienced, influential IT Director / CTO with international experience and a successful background in B2B, B2C, Private Banking, Retail Banking, Investment Banking, Energy, Oil and Gas, Retail, software, technology, commercial and global corporate sectors. Has been associated with Cisco AppDynamics since 2018 as Executive CTO, he has been previously a part of  British Petroleum and ABN AMRO Bank N.V.


As consumers around the world headed online to hunt down some great deals this holiday season, many were aware of the supply chain issues which continue to limit the availability of certain products. People were advised to start their shopping in advance this year and many brands responded by launching sales and year-end deals earlier than ever.

Retail brands were rightly concerned about the impact that supply chain issues could have on their ability to capitalize on their busiest period of the year, particularly when many need a boost in sales after a gruelling 18 months. Hopefully, their plans to navigate through these supply chain challenges paid dividends. 

A more discerning, demanding online shopper 

However, concerns around the availability of products weren’t the only thing on shoppers’ minds as they began their holiday shopping. 

After 18 months in which people have relied almost exclusively on digital services and applications to access the products and services they needed whilst living in lockdown, they have become far more discerning and demanding when it comes to the type of digital experience retailers are offering. 

As consumers, our use of digital services has soared during the pandemic, and this has meant we’ve been exposed to the very best, most innovative digital experiences available. From messaging tools and video streaming platforms to fitness classes and banking services, we’ve seen first-hand what applications can and should be offering in 2021. And now we see no reason why all brands, including retailers, aren’t offering this same level of digital experience. 

Consumers demand The Total Application Experience

In our recent consumer study, The App Attention Index 2021: Who takes the rap for the app?, 76% of people said that their expectations of digital services have increased over the last 18 months. And they’ve risen across a wide range of performance and functionality areas, particularly when it comes to reliability, security and personalization.

Consumers today are seeking out the ‘total application experience’ – a high-performing, reliable, digital service that is simple, secure, helpful and fun to use. And they want these services to be personalized to their individual needs and add real value to their lives. 

A golden opportunity for retailers

Across all demographics, consumers are now looking favourably at any brand that can deliver this ‘total application experience’. People recognize the positive impact that applications are having on their lives during this challenging period and they greatly appreciate the efforts that some brands have made to meet their needs, delivering applications that have allowed them to feel more in control and empowered.

Our research found that 67% of consumers now feel more loyal to those brands that have gone the extra mile to deliver high-quality applications over the last 18 months. And no doubt these feelings will be reinforced over the busy holiday season.

This new dynamic in consumer sentiment not only presents a huge opportunity for retailers to drive sales but also to establish deeper and more lasting relationships with their customers, now and into 2022.

Holiday goodwill can quickly turn to wrath

Consumers aren’t willing to forgive and forget any brand that delivers a poor digital experience especially when they are shopping for multiple products. 

Reactions to poor digital experiences are now far stronger, with 61% of people reporting that their expectation of digital services has changed forever during the pandemic and they won’t tolerate poor performance anymore. Indeed, when customers encounter a problem with an application they no longer wait and try again later; they just delete it and switch to an alternative provider straight away. And people are also more likely to tell friends and family about their negative experiences, just for good measure.

57% of people say that they are now only willing to give brands one shot to impress them with an application or digital service. And if it doesn’t live up to their expectations, they won’t ever use it again. There are no longer second chances for application owners. Any slip-up in digital experience and the consequences are severe – lost customers, revenue and reputation.

Visibility is key to delivering the ‘total application experience’ 

Retailers need to ensure that their IT systems and applications can stand up to the huge spikes in demand that the holiday season brings. But for the vast majority of IT departments, this is easier said than done. Most technologists simply don’t have the tools and insight they need to manage and optimize IT performance, and that means that they’re constantly in firefighting mode, having to rely on gut instinct to make decisions.

This is why it is so important for IT departments to have real-time visibility into IT performance up and down the IT stack, from customer-facing applications right through to core infrastructure. Only with full-stack observability can technologists identify and fix performance issues before they impact customers. 

But at this time of the year, when demand for IT infrastructure is so high and can fluctuate so much, retailers need more. They need to be able to cut through the deluge of IT performance data from up and down their IT stack and to quickly understand which IT issues do have the potential to do serious damage to customer experience. This means connecting full-stack observability with real-time business metrics so that technologists can pinpoint and prioritize the issues that matter.  

With a business lens on IT data, technologists can take a much more proactive approach to manage performance. And this means customers can get the faultless digital experiences they are looking for this holiday season, and retailers can take full advantage of this opportunity to boost sales and drive customer loyalty.

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