LAS VEGAS -- Panasonic (Tokyo: 6752) came to CES to showcase its the future, but is discovering the past could present major growth opportunities as well.
Tom Gebhardt, CEO of Panasonic North America, says quick service restaurants ( QSR ) such as McDonald's ( MCD ), automotive dealerships and grocers are turning to the Japanese electronics giant to enhance their customer service through real-time networked systems.
Customers at many of the Golden Arches now order at self-service kiosks without waiting in line; they pick up their food at the counter when it is ready. And an app that lets them order remotely, which is all the rage at Starbucks ( SBUX ), is likely on the way.
Amazon's ( AMZN ) acquisition of Whole Foods Market "flipped the (retail) space," Gebhardt said in an interview late Wednesday. "It created disruption and fear." Markets like QSR, automotive dealerships and grocery chains are vastly upgrading electronic systems for logistics and supply-chain management, he said.
Those upgrade efforts, he says, will contribute to a "significant" revenue boost for Panasonic, but he said it was too early to offer projections.
Not that Panasonic is dissing the markets of tomorrow. It marked its 100th anniversary at CES by raising the curtain on an initiative with Colorado Springs, Colo., to work on a smart cities project, and Panasonic discussed a partnership with Tesla ( TSLA ) on building better batteries for electric cars.
Separately, Panasonic said it is integrating Amazon Alexa and Google (GOOGL) Assistant into cars via Panasonic's Skip Generation In-Vehicle Infotainment platform.
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