Enterprise hits and misses – retailers transform for anxious consumers as the virtual event silly season peaks

Enterprise hits and misses – retailers transform for anxious consumers as the virtual event silly season peaks
Jon Reed
Sat, 06/20/2020 – 17:22

This week – retailers share transformation lessons, but can they keep pace with anxious consumers? And: contrasting views on AI innovation sharpen our views. Virtual event season peaks; we bring you the highs and lows. As always, your whiffs.


Lead story – Re-imagining the omni-channel in-store experience – transformational learnings from three US retailersby Stuart Lauchlan

MyPOV: The last few months of diginomica’s retail coverage have been strewn with the economic body blows of Corona-times. But this week, Stuart assessed retailers that made smart moves:

For some retailers in some sectors, earlier omni-channel focus paid off and there was a consumer shift to digital channels; for others, the loss of the store network was akin to severing an arm.

Yes, those smart moves involve a fluid/creative use of online and store. But as Stuart notes, it’s now about what EY dubs the anxious consumer. On EY’s survey:

Globally, 52% of respondents say that they will change the way they shop over the coming year and it’s health concerns that are driving this view.

For 70%, hygiene and sanitation in shops is now a top priority. So what’s a retailer to do? In the feature piece, Stuart looks at how BestBuy, Vince and Lands End have responded. Stuart concludes:

The in-store element of the omni-channel retail experience will be an evolving phenomenon in the coming months. Standing in line for entry will be a norm, not just when there’s a new iPhone on sale; contactless payment methods will dominate as cash becomes something else to try not to touch… Retailers will, more than ever before, have to keep on top of tracking consumer behavior patterns (and anxieties).

No, not exactly retail utopia, but it’s not lockdown paralysis either. For more use cases, check COVID’s digital DIY boom – how Home Depot and Lowe’s omni-channel retail prep rode out the pandemic crisis.

Diginomica picks – my top stories on diginomica this week

Vendor analysis, diginomica style. We’re at the height of the virtual events silly season, folks!

SAP’s first-ever virtual Sapphire Now, aka Sapphire Now Reimagined, began with high expectations but soon became a problematic event, marred by technical issues and overscripted keynotes. That said, the diginomica team found stories worth covering, with more to follow at this week’s ASUGForward user conference.

Salesforce Live, EMEA’s first virtual Salesforce conference, is in the books. Derek and Stuart were on the beat, scooping up use cases like these:

A few more vendor picks, without the quips:

Best of the rest

Waiter suggesting a bottle of wine to a customer

Lead story – Is AI a services margin booster, or an innovation engine?  

MyPOV: A couple constrasting views on AI helped us keep use cases in focus and the automation infatuation hype in check. In 10 Ways Enterprises Are Getting Results From AI Strategies, Louis Columbus shakes out recent survey data in search of established AI use cases. He finds some good ones. One that jumped out:

McKinsey finds that AI is improving demand forecasting by reducing forecasting errors by 50% and reducing lost sales by 65% with better product availability.

Columbus takes us through industries and company sizes:

AI sees the most significant adoption by marketers working in $500M to $1B companies, with conversational AI for customer service as the most dominant.

Lest we get too enthused on “AI for Good,” over at UpperEdge, Greg Hall writes on how big services players are using “AI” to create operational efficiencies, without passing that margin savings along to customers (IT Service Providers Like TCS and Infosys Think “AI” Means Added Income). Hall writes:

Providers are well-positioned to leverage their AI tools to increase their margins over time… Given that there is little-to-no transparency into these increased margins and the efficiencies of the support, it is almost impossible for the client to take advantage of them.

Ergo: “innovation” doesn’t necessarily translate to customer benefit, nor is it automatically generated because we call it “AI.” But hey, an informed debate is always welcome in these parts…

Honorable mention

Overworked businessman


Missing on-the-ground events? Then how about this terrific tribute that came my way via HR analyst Thomas Otter:

On a more dystopian note, WTAF WFH surveillance startups keeping sprouting up:

If you’re getting too many reality sandwiches these days and not enough belly laughs, this video of a cockatoo with absolutely no interest in going to the vet might be the best thing I’ve ever seen on YouTube. See you next time…

If you find an #ensw piece that qualifies for hits and misses – in a good or bad way – let me know in the comments as Clive (almost) always does. Most Enterprise hits and misses articles are selected from my curated @jonerpnewsfeed. ‘myPOV’ is borrowed with reluctant permission from the ubiquitous Ray Wang.

Image credit – Waiter Suggesting Bottle © Minerva Studiom, Overworked Businessman © Bloomua – all from Fotolia.com, Loser and Winner © ispstock – all from Fotolia.com.

Disclosure – Oracle, Workday, ASUG and Salesforce are diginomica premier partners as of this writing.

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