The “secret sauce” of the retail experience

Posted By Steve Dunbar
Windows Embedded Lead, Northern Europe

Hello, blog readers! My name is Steve Dunbar, and as you can see from my bio, I am the business group lead for Northern Europe. The London newspaper The Times recently published a feature examining The Future of Retail, particularly how High Street brick-and-mortar operations are leveraging data to compete with online retailers to offer more personalization and lower prices. This conundrum was a core topic of discussion at a partner event I recently attended in Majorca, Spain, as it has a lot of relevancy to our own intelligent systems vision.

Toshiba Connect Europe 2013 (formerly IBM Business Partner University) is an educational business briefing and networking opportunity by Toshiba Global Commerce Solutions business (TGCS). The event provided insight into current issues facing retailers, and creative ways sales teams can craft and install intelligent business solutions to meet customer needs. Throughout the event, speakers and sessions reinforced the continued drive to work with partners to create solutions that integrate the various consumer touch points.

With all the hype around the convenience of online shopping, I really appreciated hearing that the store remains a retailers’ most important touch point, as this is something I’ve felt strongly about. It’s not about online vs. a physical store, it’s about how you leverage mobile and the web to get enhanced insights into customer behaviors (without being creepy or invasive). That is the secret sauce--something we’re doing a lot of thinking about around at Microsoft.

At the event, I presented around our intelligent systems vision, and also explained the opportunities for companies to partner with us. The audience loved the insight into the explosion of devices to be sold over the next five years, the amount of data they are likely to generate, and therefore the opportunity to influence customers on the need to capture and analyze it for business intelligence.

My colleague and I attended several breakouts which provided a competitive update, an overview of TGCS’s product road map, and a mobility session where the message reinforced that consumer devices may not be appropriate solutions for retail environments, and that Windows and Windows Embedded are still the best platforms of choice in this market.

Partners remain the lynchpin to the success of our business, and it’s always beneficial to have a chance to interact with them and understand how we can work to ensure our mutual prosperity. You can read more about some of our many partners and their solutions on our website.

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