Global Home Business > You are here:PC Top > containsVoice of Users > containsTREE OF LIFE Co., Ltd.


Main Contents begins from here.

Voice of Users

Retail Business Management System

Customer : TREE OF LIFE Co., Ltd.

Compact yet robust, the Toughbook is the terminal of choice in stylish stores. With built-in communications module, there were zero card malfunctions and zero card failures.

TREE OF LIFE Co., Ltd. is a major specialist retailer in the Japanese herb and aromatherapy products sector. As the model for use as terminals in a nationwide retail business management system, in its 100 direct sales stores, the company selected the Toughbook W8 with wireless WAN model. Besides being compact, robust and stylish, with a built-in wide-area communications module, there were no accident-prone insertable communications units to fail or break down. In the stores, the Toughbook has proven more versatile, reliable, and convenient.

As a long-established business and sector-leading company, TREE OF LIFE aims to maintain its reputation for discriminating quality

Inside the TREE OF LIFE main store: many enthusiastic customers are drawn to the extensive selection of quality items.

Inside the TREE OF LIFE main store: many enthusiastic customers are drawn to the extensive selection of quality items.

Founded more than 50 years ago, TREE OF LIFE is a major presence in the herb and aromatherapy sector. In an integrated business, the company deals with everything from procurement of raw materials to product development, manufacturing, and retailing. It carries out direct sales through the 100 stores it has opened all over Japan. In tandem with the stores, the company provides cultural education in 18 TREE OF LIFE Herbal Life Colleges, and operates salons where ayurvedic therapies, including Sri Lankan oil massage, can be enjoyed. Extending its multilateral approach to anything concerned with herbs and aromatherapy, the company’s business has also expanded into areas such as organizing ‘Slow Life Trips’ to places where its raw materials are grown.

 

Taking particular care in the selection of raw materials, the company does not use the services of trading companies or other intermediaries. Traveling all over the world, to ensure quality by direct procurement, buyers go to where the raw materials are grown. Including about 300 types of dried herbs and around 170 different essential oils, raw materials are carefully selected with an uncompromising eye on quality. In response to the diverse needs of customers, these fine quality natural materials have been developed into the huge product line, totaling about 2,500 items, that the TREE OF LIFE makes and sells.

Strong but lightweight, Toughbook selected for front-of-shop retail business management terminals

Administration Dept. General Manager, Mr. Yasuhiro Mizukami single-handedly manages the company-wide system.

Administration Dept. General Manager, Mr. Yasuhiro Mizukami single-handedly manages the company-wide system.

The Toughbook was adopted because the styling fitted in so well with the shop ambience.

The Toughbook was adopted because the styling fitted in so well with the shop ambience.

This thoroughgoing commitment to quality has been well received and has resulted in generally rising sales. The company receives many offers from people who hope to open new stores, which have been increasing by seven or eight, or even as many as ten, new shops a year. Many of these, about 70% of the total, are in department stores. To ensure smooth administration of the shops in this annually expanding retail business, at an early stage, TREE OF LIFE built a retail business management system. Currently, for the terminal in each store, the company selected the Toughbook W8, a model with a 12.1-inch screen and wireless WAN capabilities.

 

For use in department stores and other front-of-store situations, a computer needs to meet certain specifications. First of all, it has to be compact and lightweight. Then you want it to be able to run for a long time between battery charges.

 

To prevent unauthorized use, normally the computer has to be kept out of sight, for example, in a drawer in the counter, away from the hands of customers. During quiet periods, it can be removed for record keeping or taken to the back of shop for use there. It would be very inconvenient if such versatile use were not possible.

 

The computer also has to be robust. In shop conditions, it is not unusual for files to be dropped on the terminal or for the computer to get knocked. In moments of hurry or carelessness, the computer may even be dropped. An ordinary notebook computer would just break. The Toughbook was seen as ideal for these circumstances.

 

“Because it’s light, runs for a long time, and is strong, we changed to the Toughbook about six years ago. Every two years, when we replace the terminals, we get offered discounts on models produced by other makers.

 

But during our long-term use of the Toughbook, we’ve been satisfied. In particular, the price difference is decisively outweighed by features such as the long runtime using battery power and the tough reliability of the units. That’s why we’ve kept on using the Toughbook." (Administration Dept. Genelal Manager, Mr. Yasuhiro Mizukami)

With built-in communications module: zero card malfunctions, zero card failures

A Toughbook W8 with wireless WAN model being used at back of store as a retail business management terminal

A Toughbook W8 with wireless WAN model being used in the store as a retail business management terminal

To use the same computer at front and back of shop, wireless communications were essential.

To use the same computer at front and back of shop, wireless communications were essential.

When computers are brought into shops, one of the main problems is how to network them. Is cabling feasible? This is a particular problem in situations such as department stores, where any request to lay fixed cables involves all kinds of procedures. And, if the shop is relocated inside the department store, removing and relaying the cabling is a mammoth task. You also have to think about enabling the possibility of using the computer in a staff room or back of store.

 

TREE OF LIFE had previously opted for the convenience of wireless by installing communication cards in the terminals. This enabled flexible networking without any need for cabling.

 

In the early days, there were disadvantages such as slow transmission speeds and the high cost of metered bandwidth usage. The wireless communications environment, however, has steadily improved. Now, with faster speeds, flat-rate charges, and VPN compatibility, wireless can be used with complete satisfaction.

 

But the means of wireless access can be troublesome. Communication cards that are inserted in notebook computers are prone to malfunction and breakdown.

 

They are particularly vulnerable if the computer falls to the floor or if it is struck by a falling object. While the computer itself may be strong, if there is any pressure on the communications card or the USB port, trouble is likely. In fact, as many as more than 10% of all computers with communication modules suffer malfunctions or breakdown.

 

“That’s why we were looking for a model that had an internal communications module. And it’s also why we chose the Toughbook W8 wireless WAN model". (Mr. Mizukami)

 

In the wireless WAN model, because the communications module and antenna are fixed internally to the strong upper panel, there is no external projection that can get knocked and come loose. Besides providing better performance than ever, the communications module provides greatly increased reliability and durability.

 

“Since switching to the wireless WAN model, there have been far fewer malfunctions and breakdowns. In the half year since the change, the number of malfunctions and breakdowns of the communications modules has been zero." (So reported RICOH TECHNOSYSTEMS Co., Ltd., the company that installs and maintains the system)

 

“We’ve always been highly satisfied with the reliability of the Toughbook, so this further notable decrease in malfunctions and breakdowns has made us even happier." (Mr. Mizukami)

Integrated control via the Web has streamlined administrative work

Introduction of a clocking-in system made work attendance easy to manage.

Introduction of a clocking-in system made work attendance easy to manage.

It has been almost ten years since TREE OF LIFE first installed computers in their shops. By linking the computers with an Internet VPN, the company was able to use groupware to manage scheduling and the dissemination of information, and to use computers for e-mail and other purposes. The system is still being extended and, from last year, unified management of work attendance was implemented over the Web.

 

“For us at head office, it’s now easier to manage the work hours of shop staff. The staff benefit, too, because the time they actually work can be calculated to the minute, and this is reflected in the pay they receive.

 

Because the introduction of this attendance management system was so successful, we also networked sales management including sales reporting via the Web. Now, we have a completely integrated administration system. Before, we had to input daily faxed reports; the new system has saved us a lot of work." (Mr. Mizukami)

 

In addition to the W8 models in the shops, TREE OF LIFE has also provided managers and higher ranking staff with 10.4-inch-screen Toughbook R Series (sold only in Japan) computers, which are even easier to carry around.

 

“Managers often have to be out and about. They really appreciate the light weight and compact size of the R Series. I have one myself, and take it with me everywhere. I can easily check back from any shop I visit." (Mr. Mizukami)

Customer contact is of paramount importance: the Toughbook has helped to provide more time for this by improving work efficiency

Before leaving, we asked Mr. Mizukami about the prospects for the future: “In the company, we think that more time should be spent with customers than on administration. For example, whereas we used to have the stock checked once a month, now it is done every two months. Our adoption of IT in the shops is part of this same policy. And from that point of view, I think that by using Toughbook PCs in all the shops, we have succeeded in reducing the amount of time spent doing administrative work."

“We’ve had few breakdowns with the Toughbook, but even if a breakdown should occur, all the machines are the same. We could easily swap in a replacement without problem. I think the Toughbook delivers real value for the money."

The Toughbook plays a major role in these stylish stores. As a computer providing high-speed wireless communications and the reliability of a rugged design with low failure rate, it is sure to continue to help with administration streamlining.

Customers
TREE OF LIFE Co., Ltd.
Address
Head Office: 6-3-8 Jingu-mae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Website
http://www.treeoflife.co.jp
System supplier 

RICOH TECHNOSYSTEMS Co., Ltd.
http://www.r-ts.co.jp
For further information about our products, how to purchase them and more, please visit the website of your region.

Specification and configuration may vary depending on country. Accessories may vary depending on your mobile PC configuration.
Specifications subject to change without notice.
Consult a Panasonic sales office near you for more details and availability of integrated options.

Global Home Business > You are here:PC Top > containsVoice of Users > containsTREE OF LIFE Co., Ltd.