Retailys on a business mission to the USA

Petr Heller, Retailys CEO & founder

Petr Heller, the CEO of the Czech software company Retailys, took part on behalf of the company in an important business mission of the Confederation of Industry and Transport, accompanying the President of the Senate of the Czech Republic, Miloš Vystrčil, during his official visit to the USA from 2 to 9 June 2022. Petr Heller introduced the Retailys system in Chicago, Washington, D.C. and Richmond, and this was the first step regarding plans to establish a branch office in the USA.

The United States is one of the European Union’s main trading partners, and American companies are actively looking for new business opportunities after having to leave the markets in Russia and reduce activities in Ukraine. US manufacturers and retailers are looking for ways to get their goods to Europe quickly. Czech software and consulting company Retailys (https://www.retailys.com, https://www.retailys.cz ) is taking advantage of this interest, providing a robust platform for comprehensive online expansion across Europe. “Companies have all their European online stores under one administration, complying with local specificities such as different VAT rates, local language support, currencies, logistics, etc. In addition, we are constantly adding new types of sales channels to Retailys which make it possible to list goods, such as the very popular marketplaces like Amazon or eBay. All product data, price lists, inventories, as well as orders and customers from all the retailer’s shops and marketplaces are centralized in one clear administration,” says Petr Heller, CEO of Retailys, explaining the advantages of Retailys for retailers.

Czech business delegation and statue of TG Masaryk in Washington DC

The University of Chicago is behind the region’s technological development operation

The first state the delegation visited was Illinois and its largest city Chicago. “Illinois regularly ranks among America’s top five export states, shipping industrial products, medical goods, and even advanced aerospace and aviation technology around the world,” emphasizes Petr Heller. “And it is the highly pro-export focus of this region and the potential interest in online expansion into Europe, and therefore the need to find the right software tools for it, that was the main reason why we decided to present Retailys there,” adds Heller. The main presentation of Retailys to partners took place at an entrepreneurial forum in the famous skyscraper Willis Tower under the auspices of the Deputy Mayor of Chicago and successful Chicago startup entrepreneur Samir Mayekar, who also gave the opening speech.

Chicago owes its technological development, among other things, to the famous University of Chicago, which the delegation visited afterwards. “For me personally, it was interesting to have a discussion with leading scientists involved in the fields of AI and data science, because this is something that is penetrating e-commerce more and more and something that we at Retailys are following closely,” says Heller. He adds that he particularly appreciated meeting Prof. Veronika Ročková, a Czech who was the first to obtain a professorship in statistics at this university and has been devoted to artificial intelligence for a long time. “I was surprised by how quickly we came across problems that artificial intelligence can help solve in e-commerce, whether it’s advanced recommendation systems that make it easier for customers to purchase goods in online stores, but also analysis of large amounts of product data on global marketplaces that can help a retailer automatically create sales strategies depending on their competitors,” says Heller, elaborating on some of the topics he discussed with data scientists at the university.

In addition to business and technology-based meetings, which formed the core of the business part of the mission, Petr Heller also had the opportunity to meet the large community of Czech compatriots living in Chicago. For example, the delegation visited the T.G. Masaryk Czech School and saw a performance by the Švanda Theatre followed by a reception with the compatriots at the Chopin Theatre. The entrepreneurs also made important contacts at the Czech consulate and the local office of CzechTrade. “But I also consider the relations established among the members of the business delegation to be important,” Heller emphasizes, adding that thanks to Mr Vystrčil’s mission, new business partnerships can also emerge between Czech entrepreneurs back in the Czech Republic.

Washington as the headquarters of America’s largest companies

After Chicago, the delegation travelled to the US capital, Washington, D.C., where, with the support of the Embassy and the NGO The American-Central European Business Association (ACEBA), an important Czech-American business forum was held, which was opened with an introductory speech by Czech Ambassador Hynek Kmoníček and the President of the Senate Miloš Vystrčil who emphasized the need to deepen cooperation between Czech and American companies.

Representatives of the largest global companies were strongly represented at the forum. “During many meetings, I had the opportunity to present our e-commerce solutions to the top managers of companies such as Amazon, Google or SAP, whose representatives participated in the forum. The acquired network has been extremely useful for us,” says Heller, highlighting one of the main benefits of the entire mission. After the business forum, the delegation visited the Washington headquarters of two technology companies, IBM and Honeywell, where the members of the delegation had the opportunity to learn about modern IT solutions in the fields of smart cities, defence, logistics and artificial intelligence.

Retailys – introduction during B2B forum

Logistics and e-commerce in Virginia

The last American state the delegation visited was Virginia. It is known not only for its rich history, but also for its port of Norfolk, considered one of the three largest on the entire East Coast, which is the backbone of America’s maritime logistics and export infrastructure and the importance of which is growing steadily. For this reason, companies such as Amazon and the Korean-American industrial conglomerate Navien have recently set up their headquarters in the nearby capital city of Richmond. Virginia has many benefits for beginning entrepreneurs. Firstly, the population is highly educated in technical fields – about a third of the population has at least a bachelor’s degree. Other benefits include lower start-up costs, cheaper labour costs, as well as various investment incentives.

“We dealt directly with a local government business support organization, the Greater Richmond Partnership, seeking specific conditions for starting a business, subsidies for job creation, soft loans, and other local business community contacts,” said Heller, adding that technology and innovative companies in particular have an open door in Richmond.

“In line with our long-term strategy to enable every online retailer to expand globally, we need to bring new e-commerce connections to local services and deepen our knowledge of e-commerce in each country, which benefits our clients. Acquiring new partners is very difficult without local involvement. Establishing a branch office in the US is therefore another logical step in the development of our company, and I believe that we will start our first activities in the USA next year,” said Heller, explaining his company’s future plans in America.