In a recent report conducted by Incisiv and commissioned by Toshiba entitled ‘Innovation in Retail’, 225 surveyed retail executives identified five main areas of focus that they base their innovation strategies around.

These strategies centre around shopper expectations, business models, ESG performance, competitiveness and long-term viability.

The report contains Toshiba’s additional advice on how to achieve and scale these innovation strategies.

64% of retailers stay ahead of shopper expectations

  • 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 behaviour.
  • Innovate: This means constantly developing new products and services that meet your customers’ needs and finding new and better ways to deliver them. 
  • Personalise 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.

74% are exploring new business models

A key point highlighted by the surveyed retailers is unifying digital and physical customer journeys. To achieve this, Toshiba’s report suggests implementing an adaptable and scalable business model to implement innovation strategies into an existing technology infrastructure.

81% are improving their ESG performance

  • Environmental sustainability: Utilise renewable energy sources, reduce energy consumption, use sustainable materials, and implement waste reduction and recycling programmes.
  • 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.

27% aim to improve competitiveness

Toshiba’s report advises that retailers invest in new products and services to set themselves apart from other businesses, such as autonomous delivery, real-time inventory visibility, and personalised loyalty and promotion programmes.

92% of retailers focus on improving long-term business viability

  • Focus on customer needs: Understanding and meeting customers’ needs is critical to viability. Ensure you provide products or services that meet a real need or solve a problem for customers.
  • Streamline operations: Look for ways to streamline 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 strategies as needed.

Last month, the World Retail Congress released a report on the top concerns for retailers in 2023, which include economic uncertainty and supply chain complexity.

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