Meet Torulf Nilsson, our new Director for Product and Presale
March 18, 2021
Hi, Torulf. Welcome to the StrongPoint team! Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’ve had a long career in retail tech in the Nordics and internationally, and now I’m joining StrongPoint as Director of Product and Presale. It’s a new role that hasn’t existed to date – but essentially, my job will be to ensure my team captures ongoing changes in the market, and feeds them back to our product team. We’ll work closely with customers to make sure that what StrongPoint offers matches up with what they need today and in the future, and that we continue to deliver the best and most reliable technology on the market.
For the last 20 years I’ve worked across a number of different product, solution and sales roles, and what I enjoy most is working closely with customers to help them find the optimal solutions. I also love to travel. I’m Swedish originally, and have been lucky enough to live and work extensively across the Nordics and in Europe. I now live in Oslo, Norway with my wife, who’s from the Troms region. My two favorite places in the world are the North of Norway and Tuscany – both areas have lots of unspoiled nature, beautiful views and friendly people.
What are you passionate about?
My main objective is to help StrongPoint’s customers find the right technology for changes in their business, so they can serve their own customers better. I’ve always loved working with customers directly. Before the Pandemic, I regularly met with retailers all around Europe to help them find new ways to work more efficiently. Ultimately, I’m a consumer, too – so I’m keen to help retailers figure out what they can do to improve the customer experience, and which technology can help them achieve their goals.
It’s my job to stay well-informed about what’s happening in the market. As digital and physical stores become more intertwined, retailers must respond to a new set of customer expectations. I always try to act as a trusted advisor to help find the best solutions to their problems – whether that’s StrongPoint’s technology or not. That genuine, objective support with decision-making is what’s helped me create such strong and long-lasting relationships in the industry. I’m not interested in selling technology for its own sake; what’s important is that it delivers concrete value.
Why did you want to join StrongPoint?
I’ve known the company for a while, thanks to my background in retail technology. But it’s undergone a lot of change recently, and that’s what inspired me to make the move. StrongPoint has become a more dynamic company with a focus on software as well as the classic hardware. I could see that what StrongPoint was building was meeting a real market need, and I was keen to play a role in matching customer requirements to StrongPoint’s market-leading solutions. I thought it was a company where I could make a genuine impact, and I already knew a lot of people at the company, so it was an obvious fit. When I decided to leave my last role, I didn’t look generally in the market for new positions and felt StrongPoint was the right company for me.
We’re glad you did! What are you most looking forward to doing in your new role?
I get my energy from meeting with customers. It’s been difficult to be so constrained for the last few months, but I’m really looking forward to getting back out with them as soon as that’s possible. In the meantime, I’m already meeting remotely with customers to discuss how we can serve them better, and how they’re thinking about the future of retail technology. I can then take that back to our product team to help guide StrongPoint’s strategic planning, and ensure we’re building products that fits.
As much as I love working with customers, I also really enjoy creative discussions and brainstorms with internal tech teams. That’s where my background can really add value. Product teams appreciate getting the “market view” of customer requirements, because they’re not always directly plugged into the market. I help bring them closer, so we can ensure we’re building relevant, useful solutions.
The Pandemic has already had a big impact on your day-to-day, but how do you think it will affect the retail industry in the future?
It’s really accelerated the pace with which things are moving online. Grocery retail started the transition to online many years ago, especially in the UK, US and Sweden. Now the rest of the world is following. That was happening anyway – the Pandemic has just helped speed things up.
A lot of retailers have had to implement ‘quick and dirty’ temporary solutions to meet the need of online shopping for groceries. Now they’re in a position to make them better. Though the change has been difficult, many businesses have benefited from the tech they’ve adopted and are now used to the new ways of working. We can help them take the next step, by evaluating what’s working, and where they could implement better tech or improve usability.
You’re based in Norway. How does the grocery market there compare to others? How can StrongPoint help?
All Nordic and Baltic countries invest a lot in retail technology for groceries, but Norway has been lagging behind Sweden and the Baltics in the customer self-service and eCommerce areas. Now, Norway is starting to catch up due to Covid-19. The appetite for different solutions varies between markets, depending on what’s important there. In Norway, we’re seeing particular interest in electronic labelling and employee management solutions, for instance.
What’s good about Norway is that the economy is strong. People have generally have good incomes, which means they spend more on groceries and have adopted e-commerce quickly. That means retailers have more money to invest in tech. That gives us a head start on other regions – it puts retailers in a really good position to take action and deliver truly innovative customer experiences.
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