Enterprise hits and misses - retailers face the 2023 omni-challenge, ChatGPT owns the hype cycle, and the autonomous enterprise gets new buzzwords

Jon Reed Profile picture for user jreed January 16, 2023
This week - retailers ace the holiday exam, but tougher omni-tests are coming in 2023. ChatGPT hype has reached fever pitch - context is needed. And: FAA's fail keeps the IT failures and legacy tech conversation on the front burner.


Lead story - Holiday numbers and omni-fails - a 2023 retail status check

The final holiday numbers are in - where do retailers stand? Stuart crunched the number in The most wonderful time of the year? How online retail coped over the Holidays, according to Adobe, Salesforce:

So, was it the most wonderful time of the year? Well, it wasn’t bad at all, according to Salesforce’s numbers. Although sales in the early part of November were lower than the previous two years - when the COVID boost was still working - discounting and BOPIS (Buy Online, Pick-Up In Store) helped take  online global sales to $114 trillion globally, with $270 billion of that coming from the US.

Adobe’s numbers, based on over one trillion visits to U.S. retail sites, 100 million SKUs, and 18 product categories, reckons that US consumers spent $211.7 billion, up 3.5% year-on-year.  Some 38 days between 1 November and 31 December saw purchases top $3 billion. Particularly popular this season were toys, up 206% on the pre-Holidays period, as well as video games (115%) and apparel/accessories (94%).

Still, consumers had to be incented. Discounting factored in heavily: "Salesforce data indicating an average discount rate of 21%, higher than last year’s 19%." Both vendors cited BOPIS (buy online, pick up in store) popularity, to the tune of about 20% of all purchases. No surprise: mobile commerce was big. Retailers, however, are contending with the unwanted backwash of surging returns, which accounted for13% of total Holidays season purchases, a stress-inducing 63% increase year-on-year.

Bottom line: retailers did pretty well, but not without pulling all the stops. However, in the new year, the winners and losers theme returns. As Stuart reports, Walmart presses on, providing smaller retailers with enterprise-level capabilities: Walmart gets local with omni-channel retail tie-up with Salesforce.

But omni-retail also brings omni-fail. Stuart's long-running Bed, Bath & Beyond saga took a rough twist in Bed, Bath & Beyond hope for omni-channel transformation as sales collapse, losses soar and bankruptcy talk increases:

Bed, Bath & Beyond will stand as a testament to how not to execute an omni-channel transformation in a new age of retail.  It failed to recognize the digital revolution early enough, sticking to its paper coupon business model. As customers moved online, Bed, Bath & Beyond opened more and more physical stores. These did nothing to help when COVID struck and they all were shuttered. While e-commerce numbers went up during the lockdowns, there wasn't enough of a base to build on. Former CEO Mark Tritton's much vaunted turnaround plan, which said a lot of the right things, didn't deliver enough in practice and he was gone by the second half of last year.

So now bankruptcy looms.

Ouch. Looks like the beds and the baths have given way to the beyond. Something tells me this unsparing environment will put other retailers in tough spots before the year is up. For now, NRF 2023 is on deck in New York City. Stay tuned...

Diginomica picks - my top stories on diginomica this week

Vendor analysis, diginomica style. Here's my three top choices from our vendor coverage:

A few more vendor picks, without the quotables:

Best of the enterprise web - my top eight

Waiter suggesting a bottle of wine to a customer

Overworked businessman


Technically this may not be a whiff, but it will be soon - if we don't get a handle on AI image-inhaling and generation:

Buzzfeed is pretty clever sometimes:

Question: how "smart" are smart homes when the so-called smart devices' corporate parents are feuding with each other and can't agree on shared protocols?

Let's close it out with an RIP for an under-appreciated creator, who never let bots catch up with him:

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.

Image credit - Waiter Suggesting Bottle © Minerva Studiom, Overworked Businessman © Bloomua, Loser and Winner © ispstock - all from Adobe Stock- all from Adobe Stock.

Disclosure - Oracle, Workday, Heap and Salesforce are diginomica premier partners as of this writing.

Read more on:
A grey colored placeholder image