Rance Poehler, President & CEO, Toshiba Global Commerce Solutions

Toshiba Global Commerce Solutions: Advancing the Future of Retail

Founded nearly a decade ago, Toshiba Global Commerce Solutions is well poised for what’s next in retail in a post-pandemic world. The company has rapidly evolved from a point of sale (POS) system manufacturer into an end-to-end solutions provider and strategic partner for digital transformation, serving the largest and most successful retailers in the world, including half of the top 25 global retail brands.

Originally known as the IBM Retail Store Solutions division, the company was acquired by Toshiba Tec in 2012. As part of the Toshiba family of companies, it continues to expand its advanced capabilities, helping retailers develop, trial, and deploy new personalized services for consumers, reduce cost from inefficient processes and systems, and scale to meet demand.

Toshiba continues to make focused and significant investments in innovation. One of its most important innovations is ELERA, the modular, cloud-based, unified retail commerce platform that is becoming the foundation for retail digital transformation. It is also developing, smarter, more advanced self-service systems, and expanding its proactive availability services that play a key role in anticipating, diagnosing, and resolving IT issues.

We, at Insights Success, caught up with Rance Poehler, the President & CEO of the company, to know more about the company and how it has become the leading supplier of POS systems.

Below are the highlights of the interview:

Please list the popular services that make your company standout from the competition.

There are three major differentiators in our offerings:

ELERA, the modular, cloud-based, microservices unified commerce platform that will play a key role in helping retailers accelerate their digital transformation and ultimately become more resilient and agile.

Proactive availability services enable us to stay on top—and ahead—of issues by remotely monitoring, diagnosing, and resolving them.

Wall-to-wall service provided by more than 1,000 field technicians that support literally everything that is plugged in within a store, including systems and equipment from other vendors. The rapid proliferation of complex networks of smart devices with IoT capabilities within stores, demand high availability and reliability. With so much complexity, our customers need their services and support to be simpler and prefer to have one proven vendor to rely on and hold accountable.

As a business leader, what is your opinion on the impact of the current pandemic on the Information Technology & Services Industry?

Today, the bar is higher than ever for retail IT providers. As one of our large grocery retail customers put it, “This isn’t business as usual. People are depending on us in ways they never have before. We saved lives during COVID.”

We saw first-hand how the pandemic accelerated the shift to digital commerce by at least five years. As the country started to shut down, we ramped up quickly—with more than a thousand field service IT specialists working around the clock to keep stores running during the pandemic. It wasn’t just about keeping our customers up and running, it was also about helping them address the massive spikes in demand for online ordering, curbside pickup, delivery, and other services.

What is your thought on the necessity of a positive work culture? In what ways do you implement it at your organization?

Empowered people are at the heart of a dynamic, positive company culture. Empowerment means that anyone within the company—regardless of their position, education, or skill level—is encouraged to identify opportunities to help the company grow, solve problems, and improve teamwork.

Our approach is to break down silos, encourage collaboration and foster an entrepreneurial mindset. When teams from different areas come together, they learn about each other’s challenges, build empathy, and ultimately come up with ideas they never thought possible. We’ve seen the impact of this across the company, whether it’s creating new ways to serve customers, creating training programs for new products, or finding ways to bring in new talent.

What is your opinion on the necessity for businesses to align their offerings with newer technological developments, especially when it comes to Digital Transformation? How do you enable digital transformation and provide end-to-end solutions for retailers?

It’s a tall order for many technology companies—not all have the depth and breadth to take this on.

Digital transformation is the path to becoming more resilient, agile, and ultimately future-proof. The process starts with modernizing the commerce foundation, moving away from decades-old, monolithic POS toward a modular approach that enables incremental innovation at a speed the works best for each retailer.

ELERA, the unified commerce platform we introduced earlier this year, is a game-changer. It’s already accelerating transformation. It enables retailers to do things they’ve long wanted to do—speed the development and deployment of customized services, trial new offers and programs, iterate them quickly, then roll them out at scale. They can also merge their physical stores and digital commerce channels to aggregate data from different applications and systems to establish one source of customer data, using advanced technologies like AI to provide insight into customer behavior.

Every state-of-the-art retail solution we’re building will run on ELERA. That includes VR/AR self-service solutions, smart, AI-enabled edge cameras, and computer vision to better address loss prevention and speed up self-checkout. The advantage of being ELERA-powered means that the data collected by these systems can be shared with other applications and services across the entire physical and digital store environment. It’s the path to a more compelling and cohesive customer experience and to more efficiency and reduced operating costs.

In what ways is Toshiba Global Commerce Solutions contributing to the community?

When I came on board in November of last year, one of the things I was most excited about was increasing investment in community initiatives. An example of that is an internship program we’re piloting that creates economic opportunity through partnership with community college and vocational programs. It includes in-depth training and pays for the final year of tuition. Rising student debt is a huge issue. We can play an important role in helping alleviate that burden as well as offer graduates an exciting career path.

We’re also developing new corporate level programs that support our nation’s veterans and frontline workers, as well as empowering our employee resource groups across the company to support local organizations that are important to their communities.

How do you envision sustaining your company’s competency in a cutthroat and volatile world of business? Where do you see your company in the next five years?

It’s an incredibly exciting time for us! We’re experiencing something that is rare in the life of a technology company. With the ELERA unified commerce platform and smart end-to-end solutions backed up by wall-to-wall and proactive availability services, we have the right technology, the right solutions, and the right strategy, at the right time for our customers—now and for the future.