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Enterprise hits and misses - retailers get an omni-channel gut check, vendors talk macro-economy, and healthcare AI gets called out

Jon Reed Profile picture for user jreed August 29, 2022
This week - enterprise software vendors give a mixed economic outlook, but buyers still feel the urgency to spend on tech. Retailers get an omni-channel report card, and AI's healthcare transformation gets critiqued. Whiffs: I consider living in a potato.

King Checkmate

Lead story - Retailers face tough conditions, but omni-bets are paying off

The retail economy is not for the skittish. But as earnings roll in, we're getting a picture of what's working - and what's not. The hard work of the so-called omni-channel is paying off, as Stuart notes in Retail's rough, but keep calm and carry on with omni-channel transformation - Macy's and Nordstrom show how.

The bad news: recessionary climate. No surprise - consumers are shifting. They are cutting back on spending, wary of high inflation, higher interest rates and all that lovely stuff.  Macy's "Polaris" transformation has mitigated the downside, and helped with the inventory dilemmas. Stuart quotes Macy's CEO Jeff Gannette:

The improved use of data analytics enabled the team to respond quickly and adjust our inventory flow accordingly. We ended the quarter with inventory levels up seven percent.

We continued to enhance the customer experience with investments in personalization, our digital platform and physical optimal expansion, all supported by investments in our colleagues...  Our position as a leading omni-channel retailer across the value spectrum, as well as the efficiencies we’ve built into our business through Polaris have allowed us to respond effectively to the changes in consumer shopping behaviours across income tiers, channels and categories.

Jargon overload, but the message is clear: an effective retail transformation can raise the floor. As Stuart reports, Nordstrom actually had positive earnings news: digital sales were up six percent year-on-year, contributing to an overall revenue increase of 12%,  and now comprising 38% of sales. But CEO Erik Nordstrom acknowledged: the macro-economic pressures are unavoidable. However, the omni-bets are bearing fruit:

We continue to advance our digital capabilities, working to further extend our heritage of customer service and personalization to a digital world. We are scaling our styling program and offering a range of digital services, including stylist-inspired looks, virtual style boards, and online styling appointments. While we still see the highest number of customers engaged with our in-person styling, we are seeing rapid growth within these digital services. Digital styling customers are also highly engaged, spending five times more than an average Nordstrom customer.

Superficial digital commerce plays aren't going to do it. But deeper, more substantial transformations have upside - even if the work is far from complete.

Diginomica picks - my top stories on diginomica this week

Vendor analysis, diginomica style. Another week, another batch of notable earnings reports. In sum: it's not pretty out there, but SaaS companies that execute well still have strong sales pipelines.

Two more notable earnings reports:

Industry disruptions and the need to respond with better data/analytics/customer "outcomes" are keeping enterprise software companies a bit ahead of the economic downturn. That said, no company is immune; hopefully cautious buying behavior doesn't turn into long term cutbacks or paralysis.

A few more vendor picks, without the quotables:

Jon's grab bag - Madeline continues her fruitful series with What I’d say to me back then – Corel CEO Christa Quarles on why you should never hide your true self. Chris bears down on crypto crime in Crypto crime is spreading and hard to solve, says report. Barb takes a fresh look at today's enterprise buyer in Precisely to the point - Integrate pitches a new angle on demand marketing.

Finally, I blew another gasket in this love letter to AI content bots and those who have crushes on them critical trial run: Are B2B content creators threatened by AI text bots? Putting YouWrite to the test: "Yes, people who write absolutely terrible marketing copy are threatened by AI."

Best of the enterprise web

Waiter suggesting a bottle of wine to a customer

My top seven

Overworked businessman


I'm not sure if this is a whiff or not, but it certainly presses the cultural issues of AI:

I'm looking forward to giving my UK colleagues a hard time about this one: Britons need to be ‘less squeamish’ about drinking water from sewage, says agency head. C'mon, what's there to be squeamish about? :)

This just in: AI is about to revolutionize the gaming industry.

Err, maybe not. I'm not sure this is a whiff either, but I guess living in a potato could go either way:

Count Josh Greenbaum in:

Still a few summer days left - let's do this... 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.

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