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Online options, digital wallets, and proximity technology are just a few of the ways the retail shopping landscape is being radically altered. Digital transformation (DX) is well and fully underway in the retail world, changing the way shoppers shop and retailers sell. More and more retailers are taking advantage of cross-channel connections to dramatically improve the customer experience. 

Digital technologies, such as the Internet of Things (IoT), are helping to reimagine the in-store experience by connecting with customers, collecting and interpreting data in real-time and then delivering personalized pricing, promotions, and recommendations. Retailers can harness the proximity capabilities of smartphones and store beacons to push coupons, special offers, and other messages directly to customers when they pass a store front or enter through the premises.

This new personalized way of customer engagement is precisely what millennials are clamoring for, which is fueling the push to transform the retail experience as we know it. While this sea change is taking place in the retail sector, surprisingly only 23 percent of retailers believe their industry is particularly susceptible to changing business models, according to a recent survey sponsored by NETSCOUT. This disconnect indicates a need by many retailers to better understand the numerous changes taking place today across the industry in order to take full advantage of DX – and meet the increasingly competitive demands of a complex and dynamic marketplace.

IT’s Critical Role in Supporting Retail DX

As new digital channels have proliferated, retail IT is faced with the increasingly difficult challenge of delivering a great consumer experience - which translates to end-to-end availability, fast connections, and reliable data delivery. Reaching the market quickly with products and services is imperative. This need for speed is reflected in the NETSCOUT survey, which found 52 percent of retail respondents indicating the importance of reaching the market as quickly as possible.

Conversely, downtime or degradation on the network or with applications can directly impact the bottom line. Issues range from point-of-sale, where employees are unable to authorize credit cards or provide gift cards, to the inability to complete an online transaction when a retailer’s distributed inventory management system goes offline. Additional vulnerabilities include maintaining full Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliance of sensitive customer financial information over the network, assuring the quality of voice over IP (VoIP) and collaboration services to stores, and ensuring call centers are always available to customers.

Obviously, as retail IT environments become far more complex, and the level of data-intensive functionality expands, performance degradations will occur. As the service delivery path enlarges, the likelihood of database errors, quality-of-service (QoS) misconfigurations, DNS issues, failed micro-services and more grow. For IT to stay ahead of these issues before they become business problems requires an understanding of all the service interdependencies and relationships. This means having visibility of the entire IT environment.

For retail organizations, NETSCOUT solutions deliver real-time, actionable intelligence to identify and resolve network service disruptions, allowing them to confidently exploit new digital innovations and provide a seamless and targeted customer experience.  One of the major keys to DX success is the ability to achieve business assurance. NETSCOUT Business Assurance, which is a powerful combination of service assurance, cybersecurity, and business intelligence solutions, enables retail IT to control and manage chaos in production environments. The results are high levels of availability, reliability, and responsiveness of digital services – making it possible to deliver highest quality customer experience.

For a more in-depth look at how DX is impacting the retail industry, download the NETSCOUT white paper, Assuring the Enterprise in the Digital Era – Retail.

~Written by David Pitlik, Content Creator, Speechwriter, Technology Consultant 

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