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...

Retail Enterprise Agility: A Necessary Step for Future of Retail

Within most softlines, grocery and hardlines retail segments, the need for enterprise agility and speed to market has often been talked about in terms of response time of store, headquarter or supply chain teams to align with current and emerging market and consumer trends. Agility in retail can translate into initiatives including but not limited to rolling out new channels/stores, new product introduction, marketing, content and technology innovation that improves customer experience or operational efficiencies. Retail enterprise agility is not just about quick decision-making and resource allocation but also enabling improved sales, cash-to-cash cycle time and product lead time attainment. It requires collaboration and common workflows at the product and customer-programs level between stores, digital teams, merchandise planning, sourcing, product development, marketing, IT, business intelligence and supply chain visibility and collaboration. While agility in the product value chain must conform to seamless movement of product from concept-shelf, creating deeper customer connectivity, engagement and personalization during the customer path-to-purchase journey, requires retailers to demonstrate consistent dedication, commitment and a steady flow of investments in ensuring customer-facing digital transformation. Digital thinking, data insights and customer science is inherent in such a transformation and no department or channel in retail can be devoid of essential building blocks such as access to real-time digital data, digital device-based insights & accessibility and workflows enabled on digital assets. The simplest example of the ROI waiting to be gained from such a transformation is in the ease of doing day-to-day business in a store. Retail store associates or managers should not have to pace back-and-forth between the back office and the customer front-end every time they...

Unified Commerce: A System or Process Change?

EKN’s 2016 Digital and Omnichannel survey indicates that re-investments in eCommerce/mobile in shaping up retailers’ future strategies is of considerable importance as the expected CAGR in eCommerce and mobile commerce is expected to be 14.5% and 29.4% by 2018. At the same time, EKN’s 2015 POS Blueprint Study highlights the fact that for 7 in 10 retailers store POS transaction volume accounts for more than 70% of total retail volume. For sometime now, store transactions are no longer considered pure store purchases and over the last few years offline-online basket or shopping cart integration is widespread as customers want to merge pure store POS transactions and digital transactions into a singular store experience. Despite the need for integrated offline and digital transaction experience for customer convenience at check out, retailers are using separate systems or browser windows within the existing POS system. This creates higher waiting time and inefficiencies as associates, managers and eventually customers experience a rather odd and time-consuming toggle back-and-forth between the store POS user experience and online/eCommerce transaction interfaces. With the average age of a fully deployed POS system at 7 years (EKN’s 2015 POS Blueprint Study), unified commerce solutions can take over where legacy POS systems have created gaping opportunities in operational and customer service space. The cumbersome user experience, lack of ease of access to customer information and difficulty in creating unified shopping carts which combine online/catalog orders with in-store purchases, are only some of the challenges faced by over a third of retailers.  Seamless shopping behavior can be triggered via a unified commerce platform. Such platforms have the ability to combine omnichannel...

Why Frictionless Matters

In our last post we illustrated why it isn’t enough (or sometimes even prudent) for retailers to obsess over being omnichannel, and why they must instead focus on aggressively removing friction from the customer experience. A detailed point of view with findings and analysis from a survey of 300 global retailers and brands has now been released. While the goal is similar for both retailers and brands – identify and eliminate inefficiencies in the customer experience that may cause consumers to abandon engagement; how they get to a frictionless experience is different. We’ve also published a detailed roadmap for both retailers and brands. With NRF’s annual convention and expo around the corner, here is a quick summary of the 4 key areas for retailers to focus on. These also represent the key technologies we’ll be tracking during the show. Payments & Commerce: The Connective Tissue Payments have the potential to be the unifying tissue of the shopping experience. It already is in the case of pureplay online retailers that offer features such as one-click checkout and secure customer profiles. Extending that experience into the store is the big challenge for brick and click retailers. Recent big-name announcements not withstanding, retailers must shun the tendency to view mobile payments as a way to bypass bank-fees, and instead explore the appropriate application of payment technology suited for their customer experience strategy.  The widely panned and largely unsuccessful mobile wallet and application launched by a who’s-who conglomerate of US retailers (CurrentC) is a perfect illustration of how not to approach payments. Instead, consumer oriented mobile payment platforms and wallets – Apple Pay,...