March 9, 2023 •

Everyone wants to be an innovation leader in today's ever-changing retail environment, but few have the title because so much of the average retailer’s innovation strategy is reactive. The difference between proactive and reactive retailers is their business priorities. In a recent survey, retailers identified five main areas of focus that they build their innovation strategies around. 

1. Staying Ahead of Customer Expectations
64% of retailers place staying ahead of customer expectations in their top 3 innovation priorities list*

Staying ahead of customer expectations is crucial for any business that wants to remain competitive and relevant, but it's essential for any retailer looking to earn the title of Innovation Leader. We understand that customer expectations can be fickle, and trying to keep up with them can seem impossible. But we do have a few quick tips. 

     •  Keep track of industry trends: You need to be aware of the latest trends and developments in retail.
      This includes technology, marketing techniques, and consumer behavior.

     •  Innovate: This means constantly developing new products and services that meet your customer's
      needs and finding new and better ways to deliver them. 

     •  Personalize the customer experience: People want to shop at stores they know will have what
      they need and provide an incentive specifically for their interests. So, from products to technology,
      consider it all part of the customer experience to build a relationship with each shopper.

2. Increasing Competitiveness
27% of retailers rank increasing competitiveness as their #1 priority*

Improving industry competitiveness requires strategy, innovation, and collaboration. Technology is changing how we do business, and staying up-to-date with the latest tools and trends is essential. Invest in new products and services that set your business apart from others, such as: 

     •  Self-service kiosks 
     •  Grab-n-Go stations 
     •  Autonomous delivery
     •  Interactive fitting rooms
     •  Real-time inventory visibility
     •  Personalized loyalty and promotions programs

By implementing just a few of these, you can improve industry competitiveness and position your business for long-term success.

3. Exploring New Business Models
74% of retailers say that unifying digital and physical customer journeys is an important part of their innovation strategy*

Exploring new business models takes time and effort, but it can also lead to new opportunities and growth for your business. Whether your shoppers are looking for contactless payment, curbside delivery, or any other shopping or payment method, you need the flexibility to scale and evolve.

When your business model is adaptable and scalable, you don't have to incur the cost of ripping and replacing your entire technology infrastructure when it's time to implement new innovation strategies. A broad range of retail technology designed with the future in mind can make that possible.

4. Improving ESG Performance
81% of retailers rank improving ESG performance as one of their top five priorities*

ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) performance is becoming increasingly important for retailers as investors are looking for businesses that prioritize sustainability and social responsibility. Improving ESG performance is an ongoing process that requires a comprehensive approach to sustainability and social responsibility. It is a multifaceted priority, so we've broken it down into a few parts.

     •  Environmental Sustainability: Utilize renewable energy sources, reduce energy
      consumption, use sustainable materials, and implement waste reduction and recycling programs.

     •  Social Responsibility: Create diversity and inclusion policies, establish health and safety
       protocols, conduct ethical supply chain audits, and support community development initiatives.

     •  Governance: Implement strong corporate governance practices, establish independent boards,
       and conduct regular risk assessments.

5. Ensuring Business Viability 
92% of retailers believe that innovation is a critical component of their future growth strategy*

Striving to improve your business' viability in the long term is a given for any retailer. However, innovation determines whether or not your business will stay viable. Being able to adapt and improve quickly and easily is the key. 

     •  Focus on customer needs: Understanding and meeting your customers' needs is critical to viability.
      Ensure you provide products or services that meet a real need or solve a problem for your customers.

     •  Streamline operations: Look for ways to streamline your business processes to reduce costs and
       increase efficiency. This could include automating tasks, outsourcing non-core functions, or
       adopting new technologies.

     •  Stay adaptable: Markets and customer needs can change quickly, so staying adaptable and responsive
       to changing conditions is important. Be open to new ideas and be willing to pivot or adjust your
       strategy as needed.

Being an innovation leader means more than just implementing new technology, it also means prioritizing operational changes, considering customer expectations, and understanding the impact your business has on more than just a bottom line. What are some of your innovation priorities?

Check out our recent survey with Incisiv to learn more about innovation in retail and what comes next for your business.

** Incisiv, & Toshiba Global Commerce Solutions. (2023). State of the Industry: Innovation in Retail.

The technology that Toshiba is deploying in stores today can be built upon gradually to create a fully self-service, unattended store in the future. Each piece of technology provides solid value today and in the future. For a more in-depth look at how we can help the shopping experience in your store, check out

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