From Vision to Reality
Rance Poehler, President & CEO of Toshiba Global Commerce Solutions unveils Toshiba's next steps in revolutionizing retail experiences
Transforming Retail with ELERA™
The retail sector has experienced as much disruption in the past five years as it has in the previous 25. Every single one of retail’s primary stakeholder groups—customers, suppliers, employees, and investors—dramatically changed their behavior and expectations, all at the same time. Providing the right technological solutions to retail leaders, particularly when they are confronted with the rapid and substantial changes occurring, can indeed be a formidable challenge. I'm curious, what does effective leadership amidst such disruptive times signify to you?
One of the hallmarks of retailers that successfully grow is that they make a lot of bets. How does ELERA™, with its modular approach, empower retailers to make strategic bets, accelerate digital initiatives and create memorable customer experiences?
Effective leadership amidst such disruptive times in the retail sector signifies the ability to navigate and remain adaptable to what consumers want while maintaining a clear and strategic vision for the future. The past few years have indeed been transformative for the retail industry, with significant shifts in customer behavior, supplier dynamics, employee expectations, and investor priorities. Every day, we see VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity) impacts from increasing numbers of shrink to worker shortages and more. Leadership that acknowledges the value of information, adaptability, and vision is priceless.
Information is powerful because we need the correct information to make decisions. In our business, this comes from listening intently to all stakeholders, including employees, customers, partners, and consumers.
Adaptability then becomes realistic to achieve amidst unexpected change, and overcoming complex challenges in the retail sector requires a multifaceted approach that factors all stakeholders – our employees, our customers, our partners, and, certainly, the consumer of today with a keen eye on what will motivate them into the future.
Vision is what keeps us moving toward the same goal. Successful leaders must bring vision to an organization to provide an outlook on the long-term goals, even when facing short-term challenges, and to inspire confidence in the organization’s ability to weather storms during disruptive times.
At Toshiba Global Commerce Solutions, our solutions across hardware, software, and services start with our "We Are RETAIL” values that begin with Respect and include Empowerment, Teamwork, Adaptability, Integrity and Leadership. These values guide every aspect of our business and keep us connected to our purpose to empower retail to and prosper. By aligning our teams with these clear tenants, we can ensure we respond to our stakeholders to drive success for the ultimate end user – the shopper.
Retailers understand the benefits and impact of implementing new technologies in their business. An Incisiv study reported that 92% of retailers said innovation is critical to their future growth strategy. Toshiba Global Commerce Solutions is committed to the industry and delivering innovative solutions to continue providing retailers with new opportunities to improve their operations and deliver better customer experiences.
Retailers cannot accelerate transformation when it’s saddled with decades-old technology and hundreds of custom-developed integrations that require considerable resources to maintain. The ELERA™ Commerce Platform has been powerful, empowering our existing customers to continue their digital transformation journey at their pace with modular options for implementation. It also enables retailers to get control of their technology debt so they can control and protect their customer data, freeing them to transform their businesses at a speed that was never possible. ELERA™ has the flexibility to run on any hardware, operating system, or cloud system that meets minimal technical specifications.
By leveraging embedded technologies like A.I., machine learning, computer vision, and self-enablement features, retailers can manage challenges like in-store shrink and labor shortages that impact their bottom line. It also creates seamless, unified retail experiences and deploys a wide variety of promotions for a personalized, cohesive customer experience across different touchpoints by understanding shopper behaviors.
The unified architecture offered by ELERA™ is built for the digital age and omnichannel retailers serving consumers online, mobile, and in-store, delivering capabilities that can be applied to any endpoint or device. Ultimately, the platform provides retailers the freedom to self-enable and innovate like never before, supporting the connected store experience in an agile, interconnected, and infinitely adaptable way.
At Toshiba Global Commerce Solutions, our solutions across hardware, software, and services start with our "We Are RETAIL” values that begin with Respect and include Empowerment, Teamwork, Adaptability, Integrity and Leadership. These values guide every aspect of our business and keep us connected to our purpose to empower retail to and prosper.
Given that Toshiba works with hundreds of retailers across the globe, what's your take on how retailers can improve profitability by combining physical and digital experiences?
Retail is ever present in our lives. We all shop for groceries, essential items after a disaster or family illness, leisure shopping, etc. Retail is also a necessary source of employment throughout communities everywhere. The industry is vital no matter where you are in the world, and that's why, at Toshiba Global Commerce Solutions, we envision a world of resilient retailers that create joyful experiences and drive vibrant economies.
We are devoted to freeing retailers to reimagine, build, and scale their infrastructure with technology that empowers change to deliver excellent shopping experiences every time. The investments we are making are advancing the future of retail, empowering retailers to align their technology with business strategies quickly and efficiently to connect with shoppers and stay ahead of the competition.
Seamless shopping isn't just about having the latest technology; it's using the strength of each piece of technology to serve shoppers' needs better. Retailers need to eliminate the barriers separating their channels to enable shoppers to quickly move from online to store, mobile, home delivery, and beyond. Toshiba commissioned a study conducted by Incisiv, which revealed that combining physical and digital retail experiences is one of the six innovation indicators for retail leaders.
Balancing digital retail and brick-and-mortar stores is pivotal in how brands deliver an experience through technology that frees retailers to build and reimagine their journey. In its quest for the right platform to unify online and in-store, Wayfair became an early adopter of our ELERA™ Commerce Platform when it opened physical stores in 2022 because it provided the flexibility that Wayfair was looking for. "You [Toshiba] had all the right hooks. We were able to iterate and build things quickly," said Kevin O'Riordan, Head of Physical Retail and Supply Chain Engineering at Wayfair, while speaking at NRF 2023 earlier this year. "The other thing is we wanted to build a checkout from the associate perspective to make it easy for our customers. When you download the Wayfair app and buy a bunch of furniture for your home, you don't go through a training course. It is seamless. We wanted this kind of 'no training' mantra for the front-end user experience. The ELERA™ platform was able to keep up on that front, and we got good results." He further discussed the digital transformations at Wayfair and how it is driving to enrich the shopper experience. He highlighted how cutting-edge unified commerce platforms accelerate retail transformation.
Physical and digital commerce each have essential roles in the shopping experience and retail operations. We help today’s brands accelerate and unify their retail ecosystem across digital and physical commerce to meet shoppers where they are. By effectively combining physical and digital experiences, retailers can create a more engaging, convenient, and personalized shopping journey for customers. This, in turn, can lead to increased customer satisfaction, loyalty, and, ultimately, improved profitability.
Every shopper deserves the best possible experience. We empower retailers with the technology and know-how to reimagine and deliver unified retail experiences that create meaningful, personalized interactions with each shopper meeting their preferences.
How will market conditions for retail evolve in the next 12 months, in your view, and what does that mean for Toshiba?
To meet the evolving needs of consumers and achieve business goals, we are working closely with our retail customers to deploy solutions to unify the shopper experience across multiple touchpoints. The rise in shrink and other operational challenges, such as labor distribution, also continue to pose unexpected and complex hurdles for retailers. Retailers understand the benefits and impact of implementing new technologies in their business, especially when supporting loss prevention measures that significantly impact their bottom line. Two key areas we’ll continue to hear about over the next 12 months are artificial intelligence (A.I.) and alternative forms of payments.
A.I. and other complementary technologies like computer vision and machine learning will continue to advance and support the retail space. Like other solutions, A.I. technology is most effective when applied strategically with a focus on achieving business priorities. By doing so, retailers can effectively harness the benefits and stay ahead in a constantly changing retail landscape.
Alternative forms of payments, including mobile and biometric options, are gaining interest. As more and more consumers are on the go, the ease of use at restaurants, convenience stores, and high-volume retail has seen an uptick.
Our role as the retailer’s partner is to start by gathering the information through listening so we can help them hone in on the strategy to tailor a solution to adapt to the outlook and move their business forward while preserving relationships with and delighting consumers so they keep coming back.
Given your track record for scaling businesses, how do you create a repeatable, reliable growth formula for Toshiba Global Commerce Solution to be a global market share leader in retail store technology?
A deep understanding of our retail customers is at the heart of any successful growth strategy. We invest significant time and resources in developing authentic relationships with our customers by understanding their pain points, needs, and aspirations. Some of what we do is repeatable in our solutions across hardware, software and services. Our passion and purpose come through when we can listen to and counsel our customers to solve their challenges by providing modular technologies and scalability across their stores.
We actively seek feedback and use it to drive our solutions. We also foster a culture of experimentation and seek to adopt and embrace emerging technologies. This keeps us ahead of the competition and allows us to anticipate industry shifts and adapt our strategies accordingly.
Our growth and success are also influenced a great deal by our partner network. Toshiba Global Commerce Solutions also partners globally with industry-recognized distributors and solution provider business partners to promote awareness, drive demand, and deliver innovative solutions to new customers and potential partners. The strength of our partner network is a vital component of our success in serving the needs of retail and adjacent vertical industries. Toshiba is a partner-driven business, and our network of outstanding partners has helped build our success. Through our Together Commerce Alliance Program, which includes more than 1,000 business partners operating in over 70 countries selling on our behalf, our retail solutions are brought to a global market to empower retailers to deliver more enjoyable and personalized shopping experiences.
What’s next on the horizon for you? Where is the company headed?
We envision a world of resilient retailers that create joyful experiences and drive vibrant economies. As we look ahead, we will continue delivering innovative solutions for our customers by listening to them first and working with our partners in the industry to provide greater value. Our people are our biggest asset in achieving our goals, and we are excited to continue to grow our team with the best talent across our global footprint.
Our devotion to the industry has led us to invest significantly in innovation to make stores smarter and more agile. We are excited about our new solution launches over the next few months that are aligned with the critical business priorities and challenges of our customers and rooted in the latest innovative technology like A.I. Every shopper deserves the best possible experience. We empower retailers with the technology and know-how to reimagine and deliver unified retail experiences that create meaningful, personalized interactions with each shopper meeting their preferences.
Building strategic partnerships and alliances is also instrumental in achieving a reliable growth cadence. We collaborate with other leaders within and outside the retail sector to create alignment and innovation that benefit our employees, customers, and partners to expand our value so we can empower retail to thrive and prosper.
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