Powering the Next-Generation Retail
By Rance Poehler, President & CEO, Toshiba Global Commerce Solutions
On Invitation, Rance Poehler, President & CEO, Toshiba Global Commerce Solutions shares his thoughts on the pandemic's impact on the retail world, what it takes be a mission critical technology provider during these times, how pandemic reinforced just how volatile the future can be, and finally how Toshiba helps retailers take on the volatile future!
As a technology developer, manufacturer, and marketer of end-to-end solutions in the retail sectors, we saw first-hand how the pandemic accelerated the shift to digital commerce by five years at least. As the country started to shut down, we ramped up quickly—with more than a thousand field service technicians and IT specialists working around the clock to keep stores running during the pandemic. It wasn’t just about keeping our customers up and running smoothly, it was also about helping them address the massive spikes in demand for online ordering, curbside pickup, delivery, and other services.
One of our customers from one of the world’s largest retailers, really captured the impact of the pandemic well, “This isn’t business as usual. People are depending on us in ways they never have before. We saved lives during COVID.”
Most recently, we worked alongside our customers after Hurricane Ida to get stores up and running. Our customers play an important role in their communities, and they needed their stores to be operational as quickly as possible.
In situations like this you have to have a first responder mentality. Mobilize quickly. Go where you’re needed. Do what needs to be done. As an example, we helped a customer get several stores open very shortly after Hurricane Ida hit. They were among the few retailers who were able to get up and running so quickly. Their team sent us a note letting us know how much they appreciated that we went above and beyond and how much that meant to them. It’s those moments that you feel especially proud of the work and understand the impact you really have on people’s lives.
Crisis like these help us reflect and understand what it takes to be a mission critical technology provider. You’re not just supporting your frontline customers. You have to be all in as an individual and as a company— right there with them physically, mentally, and
emotionally. Not every company has the capability, skill, or even desire to do that. Having said so, it’s an incredibly exciting time for Toshiba in retail.
We are experiencing something that is really rare in the life of a technology company. We have exactly the right technology, the right solutions, and the right strategy, at exactly the right time for our customers. We’re at the forefront of enabling retailers to thrive in an increasingly digital world. We have broad and deep relationships with the world’s largest retailers and are winning more and more business every quarter. We’ve proven that we’re a strategic, innovative, and reliable partner across all aspects of retail IT.
We are powering and accelerating digital transformation with ELERA, our new, cloud-based, modular unified retail commerce platform that is rapidly evolving into the commerce foundation of the future. It’s a game changer that is enabling our customers to anticipate and respond to change in ways that were never possible before. ELERA frees retailers to reimagine their businesses without the constraints of traditional retail IT systems. It empowers them to merge their physical stores with their digital commerce channels to provide a consistent experience for customers, whether they shop outside the store, in-store, at curbside through a mobile device, or at home.
We have exactly the right technology, the right solutions, and the right strategy, at exactly the right time for our customers.
ELERA is the agile foundation of next-generation retail and will accelerate digital transformation, unifying physical and digital stores.
All of this is part of a broader strategy to provide end to end solutions which not only include ELERA, but also includes smart IoT-based solutions for self-service, POS, touchless, mobile associate, loss prevention, and other important areas. Another critical component of that strategy is wall-to-wall and proactive availability services and support. Not only do we support Toshiba systems, but we also support everything that’s literally plugged into power. We always say if you can plug it in, we can support it. This is incredibly important to retailers who consistently tell us that they want fewer vendors and less complexity to manage, especially now with change happening so quickly.
I know that they say that the only constant in business is change, but I’d say that there’s one more constant—our service, support, and commitment to our customers!
The pandemic reinforced just how volatile the future can be. The best thing we can do as an IT retail leader is to help our customers become more agile through digital transformation. Agility is what can future proof your business. Research from McKinsey showed that agile transformation can reduce time to market by at least 40 percent. It can also improve overall operational performance by 30 to 50 percent.
We’re making major investments in agile technologies like the ELERA unified commerce platform. It enables retailers to experiment with new ideas, trial new programs, learn what works and what doesn’t, and then scale them for maximum impact. Today’s legacy, monolithic technology platforms don’t make that possible. ELERA is the agile foundation of next-generation retail and will accelerate digital transformation, unifying physical and digital stores.
We’ve created some amazing stores of the future. We’ll be showcasing some of those innovations at NRF early next year. We also regularly take customers through our stores of the future showcase in our corporate headquarters in Raleigh, NC. Come visit!