Virginie Charlès-Dear, founder, Toucan Box
1. What is the greatest opportunity for your business?
Our biggest opportunity is to be able to deliver outstanding products to our customers. We use technology and personalisation to create hands-on creative arts and crafts projects, today focusing on children aged three-to-eight years-old and in the future developing to other age groups too.
2. What is the biggest challenge to your business?
Our biggest challenge is to recruit amazing people. It takes time to find the right kind of talent and I wish we were faster at recruiting, but the reality is that people are key to our business and there are no shortcuts to hiring top talents.
3. With the benefit of hindsight, what would you have done differently so far?
We could potentially have rolled-out internationally faster.
4. What is the future of the physical store and the high street?
I think the future of physical store in bright, but it needs to evolve to become a really special customer experience. Over time, I think we will see more and more shops becoming a place for customers/communities to meet around shared passions, and experience products in a way that can’t be done online. For example, shops could evolve to become a place of dialogue where customers can give feedback on products, have their product personalised on-site, or learn more about the brand and the production process.
5. What technology-related plans have you got for the next 12 months?
We’re a tech company at heart. Despite selling a very ‘low tech’ product, our business model relies on the use of technology in every area of the business, from creating new products to logistics, fulfilment and shipping of personalised products directly to our customers. In the next 12 months, we will be implementing a new ERP system and increasing our capacity to personalise the customer experience even further.
6. What other retail business do you admire?
Apple for their ability to create beautifully designed products, Graze for their technology and data-driven approach to everything, and Amazon for being 100% customer-centric.
7. If you hadn’t been a retailer what would you have liked to do?
I would probably have been a lawyer defending people against injustice.
8. What marks out of 10 do you give yourself so far for achievement?
Nine. Pretty good but no one’s perfect.
9. Who would you place in the Top 25 Multi-channel/e-commerce Movers & Shakers?
Gousto, Bloom & Wild.