Enterprise hits and misses - retailers go direct, cyber warfare goes on high alert, and problematic user conferences return

Jon Reed Profile picture for user jreed March 28, 2022
This week - retailers go direct-to-consumer, but will supply chains hold up? The Russian invasion of Ukraine prompts cyber warfare concerns, with deep fakes and ransomware in the mix. User conference get the satirical treatment, and I call a whiff on - myself.

Lead story - Direct-to-consumer retail - where do we go from here?


The pandemic sparked a change - and retailers aren't going back. But what's next is not a no-brainer. Stuart kicks off with 57 varieties of digital - how Kraft Heinz embraced direct-to-consumer e-commerce during the COVID crisis.

Heinz-to-Home began in response to consumer pandemic need. But in the Vaccine Economy, is competing with local retailers the best option? Stuart quotes Jean-Philippe Nier, Head of E-Commerce UK and Ireland, The Kraft Heinz Company:

The evolution that we did was actually to bring a more personalized journey, for people to come on the website and buy products that they wouldn't be able to buy in traditional retail.

Example? The highly-successful Father's Day promotion, where you could order a bottle of Heinz for pops, with his name on it. But if Heinz wants to keep momentum, supply chain challenges loom. Nier again:

We invested in a digital shelf platform tool to help us follow the availability at online retailers. We really use that to understand, have we got bigger challenges actually online than in store versus our products?

Stuart picks up the retail supply chain problem again in Overcoming e-commerce supply chain challenges - how Co-op plans to provide 100% fulfilment to its online customers. Via this session at the Accelerating Ecommerce event, we learn that to get last mile delivery right, Co-op teamed with a number of UK partners. But that, in turn, led to real-time inventory challenges. So how did they tackle this "seismic change in their business?" Real-time inventory APIs were critical. Stuart quotes Co-op E-commerce Director Chris Conway:

What that effectively means is, no matter what platform you're shopping The Co-op on, whether that be our own platform, our Deliveroo platform, our Amazon shop, you'll see realtime stock availability in that store. That's only been the case for probably about four or five months. What that means is, if we haven't got the product in the store, on that day or in that time or in that hour, you're not able to order it from that online platform. That's made a huge difference to our customers, but also it's made a huge difference to the way that we forecast our demand.

That forms a stark contrast to some of my delivery experiences in the US, where online inventory/supplies are notoriously inaccurate. Conway adds:

The immediate benefit is customers can't order anything that we haven't got. So they get what they order, which is brilliant and exactly what we wanted to do. The secondary benefit is we're able to monitor what the customers actually wanted in the first place.

So if they were looking at a product and we haven't got it, we're able to capture that information and feed that back to our supply chains and logistics teams. So rather than generate sales of the product they ordered instead or generate supply of the product they ordered instead, actually we should be generating supply of the product they really wanted in the first place.

Indeed. As Stuart say, "impressive stuff, but only a beginning." Based on my crappy-scrappy "we substituted what you ordered for something else"  local grocery delivery experiences, it's more than a beginning.

Diginomica picks - my top stories on diginomica this week

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

A couple more vendor picks, without the quotables:

Jon's grab bag - Chris filed a two-fer on the UK's controversial online safety bill: The UK Online Safety Bill - Google, Facebook, TikTok, lawyers respond. Part two: regulator Ofcom responds. Neil proved further into quantum misconceptions in Quantum computing scenarios - the case for hybrid computing models.

Finally, I asked why AI vendors overreach in AI for video editing - why is this use case being overlooked?. Bonus: art of enterprise video replay with B2B video savant Brent Leary:

Just this week, I tested another AI tool for "writing engaging marketing copy" that generated exactly what I expected: tone deaf verbiage. All the right keywords, none of the impact.

Best of the enterprise web

Waiter suggesting a bottle of wine to a customer

My top seven

Overworked businessman


Time to call a self-whiff - last week, I was too pre-occupied with calling out the inaccurate headline here: FTC case against Weight Watchers means death for algorithms. No, this is not about the death of algorithms at all. But: punishing companies' abuse of data by "disgorging" their algorithms is potentially a pretty big news story - and precedent. I lost track of that, but am fixing it now.

As for this breaking NPR story on how deep faked LinkedIn profiles are potentially duping people into sales conversations, I'm only surprised if you're surprised. A community jammed with shameless "I'm just back from our amazing offsite!" brand asskissery promotional fodder posing as relevant updates is fertile ground for fakery.

Meanwhile, I took another swipe at "ecosystems." Will this one stick?

Did I mention "tech detox" articles bring out the snark in me?

There is a vastly better productivity conversation to be had than this. Finally, Matthias Steiner had a good question for Brian and me:

Good point - buzzword bingo cards would really liven up a conference - or put it in the mobile event app! I was probably too caught up in my "This one goes to 11" Spinal Tap reference to give Steiner's idea its due. 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.

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