Conexxus Annual Conference Wraps Up in Chicago

The Conexxus Annual Conference outlines how the future of technology could impact convenience stores.

The 2018 Conexxus Annual Conference drew c-store retailers and suppliers to Loews Chicago O’Hare in Rosemont, Ill., April 29 through May 3 to discuss standards and the future of technology.

Keynote speaker Jeffrey Baxter, the Grammy Award winning guitarist for the Doobie Borthers and one of the founding members of Steely Dan, kicked off the educational sessions on Monday by speaking about his current work as a consultant to the Department of Defense and the importance of thinking outside the box, improvising and taking a war game approach to responding to the challenges c-stores face today.

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A “think tank” panel of c-store retailers, moderated by Ed Collupy, executive consultant at W. Capra, shared how their c-stores are managing disruption from mobile to self-checkout to marketing.

On Tuesday, Vish Ganapathy, managing director and retail technology leader globally for Accenture Consulting, spoke on how technology trends are shaping retail, and how businesses are working to become more frictionless. He outlined ways numerous retailers around the world are experimenting with technology in customer-facing ways from using robots, self-checkout and facial recognition to placing ‘Pinterest points’ around a grocery store so customers can view recipes for the products they’re purchasing.

Ganapathy noted that today customers care about time more than anything else, and the expectations they have in other areas of their lives are transferring to their jobs as well as the way they shop at retail. Ganapathy challenged attendees to reimage how they work by leveraging technology.

Other educational session topics included artificial intelligence applications in merchandising, blockchain applications for convenience stores and the internet of things, among others.

During lunch sessions retailers heard from supplier companies about what’s ahead for the convenience stores of the tomorrow. Stuzo CEO Gunther Pfau outlined what the convenience stores of the future are anticipated to embody in both urban and suburban areas, including facial recognition that manages age identification for cigarette purchases and prescription pickup up as well as in-store banking. Scott Moeller, CEO of mShift, outlined a c-store pilot where customers are using mobile apps to pay with cryptocurrency for gas and other purchases, which eliminates interchange fees, chargebacks, transaction fees and risk of data breaches.

As always Conexxus attendees broke into working groups to discuss standards for data security, POS and back office, mobile, loyalty and more.

Next year’s Conexxus Annual Conference is set for Nashville April 28-May 2.