Retail is Open – Are You?

Fujitsu / November 26, 2021

Retailers are under constant pressure to evolve – and up until now, much of that change has been a solo effort, taking place behind closed doors.
Imagine how much quicker things would move if everyone worked together, using strategic relationships and cross-industry partnerships to solve problems and explore untapped opportunities? Co-creating, co-developing and co-innovating change.
As Richard Clarke, Executive Director, Global Retail at Fujitsu explains, the future of retail is collaborative – and it’s being driven by Open Retail innovation.

Sharing the responsibility for retail innovation

Retailers are currently being challenged on all sides. Declining store traffic. Diversifying social channels. Meeting demands for greater transparency and sustainability in products and practices. Making customer interactions consistent across every touchpoint, in every market, while still feeling localized. All this, and adjusting to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has accelerated ecommerce growth by ten years.

It’s almost impossible for any retailer to overcome each of these obstacles on their own. But rather than letting organizations get lost in a web of complexity, the retail industry has an opportunity to create change in a different way. To share the responsibility for innovation by adopting a new, collaborative approach, enabled by technology and an ecosystem of partnerships.

Welcome to a new era of Open Retail.

A co-creative approach to innovation will empower retailers to tackle consumer complexities together

What is Open Retail?

Although new to retail, the 'open' model has already been successfully applied to different business areas – from open management and open communications to open sustainability and open innovation.

Open Retail creates better consumer experiences while managing the efficiency, reliability and cost of retail operations, and increasing workforce value and productivity.

How? Through co-creative ecosystems and cross-industry knowledge sharing, enabled by technology and an ecosystem of partnerships.

Rather than focusing innovation on internal resources, Open Retail involves diverse stakeholders from inside and outside retail organizations – colleagues, suppliers, partners, prospects, communities, industry bodies; even competitors – taking practices from every business area to drive change through transformative technology.

Open Retail innovation involves a diverse group of stakeholders including external stakeholders like suppliers, technology partners and industry bodies

How is Open Retail changing the consumer experience?

Already in the industry there are emerging examples of how retailers are using an open innovation approach to meet customer needs, while streamlining labor requirements.

Take Lawson Inc, which has elevated its consumer convenience to new levels by using connected technologies to trial a checkout-free store in Kawasaki, Japan. Customers no longer have to line up at the cash register. A combination of ceiling-mounted cameras and shelf sensors detect what has been put into their basket, and the value of those items is deducted from their preferred payment card via an app at the customer’s fingertips.

What’s smart about Lawson’s innovation strategy is that the huge volume of data being generated by connected technologies will deepen their customer understanding. The benefit? The ability to drive spend and loyalty.

And by working openly with stakeholders from the retail industry and other relevant sectors, Lawson can continue to enhance consumer convenience. For example, using Fujitsu multi-biometric authentication technology to realize empty-handed shopping. Customers simply swipe their hand when entering the store and are recognized by their palm vein and face data points. No smartphone necessary.

Co-creative innovation will enhance the customer experience, to increase spend and loyalty

What does Open Retail mean for technology vendor partnerships?

As industry leaders like Lawson’s show, Open Retail innovation puts the objective first then creates the ecosystem needed to solve it, in a true partnership model that uses technology to power customer-centric innovation.

It’s no longer enough for retail tech companies to sell software for out-of-the-box use with no ongoing relationship. We have a responsibility to get under the skin of how retail businesses run and who their customers are, adding cutting-edge solutions in a modular way, to deliver better consumer experiences while managing cost.

Building co-creative relationships is something that Fujitsu is incredibly passionate about because we’re already using the Open Retail model to create change for our customers.

Instead of being prescriptive, we bring an open mind and open imagination to every partnership. Listening to retailers’ core challenges, so we can apply our experiences of launching, running and growing retail operations everywhere in the world to individual business cases.

Importantly, we put co-creation into practice, conducting structured co-creation workshops and going into retailers’ businesses to bring fresh ideas to existing challenges, finding new ways to navigate continual market movement and disruption.

Fujitsu’s Quantum-Inspired Digital Annealer is a good example of how our services drive innovative solutions to critical industry challenges in a collaborative approach.

Many retailers’ marketing personalization strategies are held back by the logistics of data management; launching something like an individual mailer to customers on their birthday is a Herculean task.

Digital Annealer solves large-scale, complex combinatorial optimization problems in near real-time, taking care of the logistics behind initiatives like a birthday-based customer mailer. In an Open Retail ecosystem, Fujitsu can form part of a retailer’s marketing personalization team, and it’s our role to ensure seamless campaign execution.

Fujitsu works in collaborative partnerships that help retailers achieve customer-centric change

Curating partner ecosystems is a critical first step

Open Retail has the power to transform every element of the customer experience; from researching a product to taking delivery of it, and beyond. Creating an environment where retailers are able to pre-empt customer wants and needs.

The idea of drawing on expertise, ideas and solutions from stakeholders across retail and other sectors to achieve this vision is bold, but the potential benefits are huge. If there are no boundaries, there are no limits – and retailers can break down their Open Retail journey into defined, budgeted milestones, to manage the logistical and cultural transition.

For most retailers, the critical first step will be to start curating an ecosystem of expert partners who are excited by the prospect of continually embracing change, together.

The future of retail is open – are you?

Visit Fujitsu’s retail website to find out more about Always Open Retail or book a co-creation workshop to start innovating together.

Going to NRF 2022? Visit Fujitsu at Booth 5007 – get in touch to meet us at the show.

Building a strong ecosystem of partners is the foundation of Open Retail innovation

Richard Clarke
Executive Director, Global Retail Enterprise Business Group, Fujitsu
Richard is responsible for coordinating, growing and promoting a global retail business across all our markets. He reports into Fujitsu's global leadership in Japan. Richard is responsible for Fujitsu’s global retail strategy, which includes prioritizing markets, building the case internally and with partners for new solution development, and executing specific growth initiatives. He develops and executes compelling and relevant retail strategies to expand key markets; he is responsible for developing a portfolio of global solutions and services to meet customers’ needs, and he works side by side with strategic customers to develop their relationship with Fujitsu. He leads and supports client-specific sales campaigns and is responsible for building pipeline in targeted geographic or solution areas. Richard leads Fujitsu’s relationships in retail with strategic ICT and business partners, is the lead representative for Fujitsu in retail with the analyst community and is tasked with identifying and delivering new channels to market – direct and indirect.

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