Plug and Play Helps Startups Disrupt Retail

Retail organizations may not typically seek the services of a “marriage counselor,” but for retailers looking to implement innovative and disruptive technologies, global startup investor and accelerator Plug and Play Tech Center can help find the perfect partner.

“We’re a marriage counselor between retailers and startups,” confirmed Michael Olmstead, director, Plug and Play Retail. “We gain an in-depth understanding of retailers’ pain points.”

Headquartered in Sunnyvale, California, with locations across the U.S. and globally, Plug and Play’s network includes more than 300 tech startups, 180 investors, and an extensive ecosystem of corporate partners and leading universities. Plug and Play has more than 250 companies in its portfolio including Zoosk, Lending Club, Dropbox, Danger, Freewebs, Canesta, PayPal (acquired by EBay), Vudu (acquired by Wal-Mart), and Retrevo (acquired by Barnes & Noble).

Letting retailers drive the selection process

Once a retailer explains their precise IT-related needs, Plug and Play puts out a call to startup application providers and then places their solutions in front of the retailer for review. The retailer then selects the startup they think can best resolve their particular pain points, and Plug and Play assists the solutions vendor in obtaining funding and developing their technology.

Optimizing the Kohl’s customer experience

One recent notable example of a Plug and Play-retailer partnership is a joint effort with Kohl’s Department Stores and Toshiba Global Commerce Solutions. Guided by Kohl’s and Toshiba, provider of Kohl’s POS infrastructure, Plug and Play will invest up to $100,000 in up to 30 startups from around the world to accelerate the development of technologies and platforms that will enhance the customer connection to Kohl’s while optimizing their omnichannel customer experience.

The ultimate goal is to create an easy, satisfying and targeted experience that will reach customers at every step of their path to purchase and convert consumers into lifetime Kohl’s shoppers. Vendors will work with Toshiba to develop solutions that complement and work with the Toshiba infrastructure for eventual pilot in Kohl’s stores.

“Nobody knows retail better than Toshiba and Kohl’s,” commented Olmstead. “We know how to find startups to fill their pain points.”

Click here for more information on Plug and Play’s partnerships with retailers.

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