Toshiba expands Elera retail commerce platform

  • January 31, 2022
  • Steve Rogerson

At January’s NRF show in New York, Toshiba announced an expansion of its Elera unified commerce platform to accelerate retailer digital transformation.

The expansion is said to usher in a new era of retail technology that is agile, interconnected and infinitely adaptable.

“Retailers cannot accelerate their transformation when they’re saddled with decades old technology and hundreds of custom-developed integrations that require huge resources to maintain,” said Rance Poehler, CEO of Toshiba’s Global Commerce retail arm. “Elera is a game changer that spells the end of their technology debt and provides a modular foundation that frees them to transform their businesses at a speed that was never before possible. Not only are customers already starting to see Elera deliver business results, they’re also energised by the freedom they now have to relentlessly experiment with innovative ideas and services, then scale them across their operations.”

The announcement includes more than 45 native microservices, API-first development, and low-code, no-code self-enablement tools that let retailers use a single platform to develop, iterate and scale unified retail technology across all physical and digital touchpoints, devices and systems.

The Elera IoT platform seamlessly interconnects and shares data between IoT devices, and powers AI-enhanced, edge camera produce recognition technology that speeds self-checkout, improves staff use, reduces loss and shrinkage, and provides more accurate inventory visibility.

Touchpoints and applications have been added for point of sale, self-service and loyalty, and promotions leverage microservices to create seamless shopping experiences and streamline operations.

The expansion comes at a time when the primary methods retailers once used to gain customer loyalty, such as discounts and rewards, are no longer the only factors that influence brand loyalty or drive sales. Consumers’ shopping behaviour is now influenced by other factors, including the use of technologies that make shopping more convenient and efficient.

A study of 2100 consumers by Toshiba and shows that more than a third of shoppers say access to better digital capabilities could make them switch their loyalty to other merchants.

Elera speeds digitisation and unification by providing retailers with low- and no-code tools and a single platform to develop, iterate and scale applications and services across touchpoints and devices that span their entire physical and online store infrastructure.

Today, there are more than 45 pre-packaged microservices and 550 APIs available on the Elera portal for use by approved retailers and independent retail technology providers. These capabilities can benefit both brick-and-mortar and ecommerce retailers.

Brick-and-mortar retailers can quickly unify and scale store functions and interconnect them with their digital platform capabilities, reducing development time and eliminating the burden of maintaining multiple software stacks. Ecommerce retailers can more easily and rapidly set up physical stores using services and capabilities they have already developed for their native digital channels.

Toshiba’s AI-powered produce recognition, built on the Elera IoT platform, demonstrates the power of moving smart devices to the edge and enhancing them with AI capabilities that are deployed through Toshiba’s TCx edge camera.

Produce recognition plays a role in the adoption of self-checkout systems, overcoming traditional obstacles. About a third of customers believe self-service will not be convenient for purchasing produce. And 15 per cent say the kiosks will likely make mistakes when processing their orders, while 14 per cent believe self-service checkouts are difficult to use.

The produce recognition technology increases scanning accuracy and reduces the need for manual input of codes and intervention from store associates, making the self-checkout process a faster, friendlier and smarter experience for consumers. Retailers can expect to see business benefits such as improvements in loss prevention and staff use, reductions in shrinkage, and more accurate inventory visibility.

“Toshiba’s unique approach to produce recognition is a powerful example of how the Elera platform, combined with AI and computer-vision technology, can be used and scaled across the retail environment,” said Yevgeni Tsirulnik, vice president at Toshiba Global Commerce. “As edge devices and IoT sensors become more widely deployed, the data they gather can be made available to any application, device or touchpoint. The positive impact of these advanced technologies working in unison, and at scale, will ripple across all retail operations.”

Tsirulnik said through Elera, retailers finally had access to transformative, scalable technologies that were accelerating the advent of real-time insights, computing at the edge and the frictionless future.

“The days of implementing these and other technologies in silos are over,” said Tsirulnik. “The true value of these advanced technologies can only be realised when they are interconnected, unified and scaled on a single, flexible platform, creating a single source of evolving customer data that makes every retail application smarter and accessible from all devices, touchpoints and systems.”