Energybox offers retailers solutions and software to track equipment and facilities across multiple locations in real time, allowing them to automate processes, improve efficiency, mitigate risks and enhance customer experience and service, according to Tony Carrella, president of Energybox-Americas, headquartered in Morristown, New Jersey.
Carrella said retail is in an evolution period right now and retailers are looking for different ways to innovate.
“From our standpoint, we focus innovation to help the operators run a more efficient, cost-effective business; help them gain visibility to operate in a safer way,” he said. “Also, we want to help bring more visibility to the key operations on a day-to-day, minute-to-minute basis.”
Carrella said when you think about supermarkets or other retail operations, especially with a multi-unit environment, there are many things to consider—different refrigeration, freezers, food products that are being prepared and stored every day.
“All this information presents risks, challenges and opportunities for the retailer,” he said. “What we do is help connect all of that in a very scalable and cost-effective way so that managers, operators and executives have real-time visibility into any critical or key actions that need to be taken.”
Carrella said Energybox captures information on a real-time basis with its sensors, brings that information to its cloud platform and then brings it down to the right people in the organization in the form of “a very intelligent platform” providing key alerts and notifications if there are critical actions that need to be taken immediately.
“We’re looking at the equipment or the environment,” he said. “A relevant alert or notification might be that the freezer at store 152 is showing behaviors of inconsistent performance; this might be a pre-failure situation. You may want to look at that. Or the temperature in the walk-in freezer at store 128 has been 10 degrees over your standard for the last hour. Please dispatch someone to correct that situation. And even down into the energy consumption for cost-effectiveness. We can benchmark all of the pieces of equipment across a whole network of locations and isolate what could be some potential energy or performance outliers so that the maintenance departments can take a look at those pieces of equipment and address those and, ultimately, save the organization lots of money.”
He said new equipment is not always needed to address a problem. “Sometimes it’s just about utilizing the equipment you have in a more efficient manner.”
In cases where new equipment purchases are necessary, Carrella said Energy Box brings forth a great deal of intelligent information and history so that when clients are making a buying decision, they can make it with much more relevant information.
“They can understand this is how we’ve used our system for the last six months, year, two years—whatever the time period is—so that when they go to market to look for new equipment, they can immediately benchmark and understand what kind of return on investment they would get from the new equipment rather than going on an assumption,” he said.
In terms of supermarkets and food, Carrella said Energybox digitizes manual processes—checklists, food temperature, HACCP-related procedures.
“We’re digitizing and automating those processes and bringing all that data into a platform, bringing accountability to the team and also offering, from a compliance perspective, the operators and executives and the businesses tools to be able to better manage and ultimately perform better, protect their business and protect their clients,” he said. “We’re using technology to make that process better, more effective and ultimately enabling the management/ownership to focus on what’s important for them.
He said Energybox’s responsibility is to ensure that the operator has an outcome. “The last thing we’re ever going to do is saddle the operator with a piece of technology and then require them to have somebody on-site that has to figure out a way to fix it or to adjust it,” he said. “That’s another great thing—people’s business changes, that’s the reality, whether it be monthly, yearly. The benefit of doing it the way we do it is that we’re always there with them, helping them adjust the system to match their business needs and their business changes.”
He said whatever Energybox does is related to return on investment (ROI). Everything is done on a subscription basis so the ROI is “immediate and perpetual,” Carrella said.
“We’re not asking a customer to capitalize the equipment or software. Many times with those old models what happens is that it takes the customer maybe six months, a year, two years to pay for the system and then after that they enjoy the return. With our system they’re enjoying the return more or less as soon as they install it. That’s very attractive to operators,” he said.
The supermarket industry has “tremendous room to grow,” Carrella said, adding that the industry is embracing technology right now, especially with challenges in the labor markets and business.
“Brick-and-mortar retail establishments are ultimately always being challenged by e-commerce, so they are trying to find a way to be more effective,” he said. “Technology, visibility, connectivity and digitization of otherwise manual processes is an essential component of survival. So the opportunity is tremendous for operators and for people like us.”