Toshiba’s Bigger and Better User Show in 2016

This year’s ‘Toshiba Connect’ was held in Las Vegas and dare I say what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas! In fact, it will be quite the opposite for Toshiba and its customers in 2016 as there are a slew of new strategies and capabilities that are waiting to make their mark in retail and other industries. Store and point-of-sale (POS) re-investments, customer personalization, digital consumer experiences, payments and evolution of omnichannel were the main strategy areas and collaborative themes led by Toshiba, retailers, media and analysts that spurred discussion and discourse during the conference.

Toshiba executives Scott Maccabe, Bill Melo, Michael Griffiths and a few others laid out the key mission focusing on Enriched Shopping, Actionable Insights and Frictionless Checkout, as well as the strategy and solution roadmap for Toshiba Global Commerce Solutions in the aforementioned areas. Customer executives from Safeway, Kroger, Brookstone, PVH and other retailers provided a promising view of their retail growth and customer experience innovation taking place today. However, large U.S. retail executives also went on the record discussing their challenges in meeting the October 2015 EMV deadline. A number of retailers spoke at length about the lack of clarity around industry standards for seamless ‘chip & signature’ POS pin-pad migrations. Retailers have experienced various concerns related to customer experience issues, 30%-50% longer transaction time, deployment delays, system testing, continued data security concerns and store employee training complexities. EKN’s February 2015 POS Blueprint study showed that 7 out of 10 retailers were ill-equipped to roll out chip & signature-ready terminals by the October 2015.

The Toshiba partner ecosystem also had a lot more depth and variety at the event compared to previous years. The partner ecosystem comprised of companies like Intel, as well as Scansource and Arrow, who both play in the distributor space, and channel companies such as Tolt Solutions. The store digital signage and in-store experiential design companies included the likes of Scala. Even in the payments space, a focus area for Toshiba lately, there were some payment solutions from partners such as Aurus; Toshiba has partnered with Ecrebo within POS promotions. There were scores of other POS peripheral, analytics and omnichannel solution partners.

In the areas of store technology like POS and self-service, Toshiba is introducing added-computing power and a slew of new customer and employee-friendly features especially in the area of self-service. These improvements should help retailers in considering upgrades to their on-premise and hybrid cloud store server based POS and store systems. Business process automation and integration between store customer engagement systems and enterprise applications were also a major focus at the event.

Both grocery and specialty retail got an equal focus at the event from a solutions and roadmap standpoint. This is an effective forward-looking sales and growth strategy for Toshiba as grocery has been their traditional base. During the conference, Toshiba even made public that Petco will deploy its TCxGravity omni-channel solution and announced a POS application deployment with partner Tolt Solutions at Tops Friendly Markets. Other retail segments such as specialty and apparel are opportunity areas for installed base growth and revenue diversification. To further frictionless commerce in the store, another notable Toshiba announcement was related to POS-as-a-service- a monthly subscription based pricing that includes hardware, software and services. Toshiba and other store systems providers are realizing that retailers need options when it comes to alternatives to large capital investments and need to provide stringent ROI numbers to management. These are common and are usually placed on CIOs, store systems, digital and operational job roles.

My favorite session at the conference was led by Brookstone. This unique consumer electronics retailer continues to drive new customer experience innovation in their stores via ‘Lift and Learn’ customer experience stations that enable customers to explore new products using attraction videos, beacon and NFC-ready interactions. Toshiba and its partner Scala are supporting Brookstone to implement these solutions in the stores. Brookstone’s store innovation strategies were right in line with my own retail trends presentation at the conference on the important topic of retail IT innovation.

For more information on this topic and other retail and consumer industry value chain areas, you can reach us at @sahiranand or @EKNResearch or sanand@edgellmail.com.