Q&A

Retail IT VAR Of The Future Preview: 4 Parts Of The Retail IT Ecosystem

Bernadette Wilson

By Bernadette Wilson

Business Solutions Retail IT VAR Of The Future Conference, May 12-13, at Bally’s Las Vegas, will present an in-depth look at four topics: POS-as-a-Service, mobile point of sale (POS), Payment Security and EMV, and customer experience.

In a webinar that previews the event, BSM editor-in-chief Mike Monocello explains BSM chose these four areas after conducting a poll to find the most important issues to its readers. Also, through its sister publication, Integrated Solutions For Retailers, BSM asked merchants to weigh in on the biggest technology trends and their biggest needs. “There was 100 percent overlap on the four topics,” Monocello says.

In addition, Monocello says the four areas are closely related: “It’s a total ecosystem. If one area isn’t having success, none are going to.”

POS-as-a-Service

At the conference, the topic of POS-as-a-Service will include transitioning from a break-fix business model to a recurring revenue model, with time devoted to challenges such as the change in cash flow, sales and marketing, and pricing and bundling.

Monocello says he’s been covering VARs’ transition to the new model for several years, and concludes, “I’m a fan. Recurring revenue is the key to longevity and profitability for most VARs … I really believe this is one of the best ways to help our readers improve their situations.”

In his blog “Managed Services Really Are Right For You,” he writes: “VARs I’ve spoken to are full of excuses as to why the managed services model won’t work for them. However, there are just as many stories of VARs who figured out how to create an offering and be successful. We’ve interviewed VARs who, rather than resign themselves to the notion that Hardware-as- a-Service isn’t right for retailers, figured out how to self-fund a transition that’s paying all of their monthly bills. We’ve interviewed VARs who were close to going out of business, switched to services, and recently sold their businesses at a healthy multiplier.”

Mobile POS

The conference agenda will also include the importance of having a conversation with your customers about mobile POS. Merchants will benefit from information you can provide on the best applications, how to choose devices, and the differences between purpose-built and consumer devices. 

Starting the conversation can also benefit you. The article, “Mobile POS: A Gateway to Traditional POS Sales,” provides an example of how one IT solutions provides leveraged mobile POS to drive traditional POS sales. The article quotes Suzanne Chen, partner/controller of Amber Systems, who says, “Many retailers who have never had a sophisticated POS solution are starting their search with mobile, because tablets are less expensive and they bring a ‘wow’ factor to the customer experience … They’re finding that tablets alone are creating some in-store operational challenges, such as loss of and damage to mobile devices and the lack of a dedicated place to package consumer purchases. Often, they realize a desire for a fixed POS station to power the data tracking handled by back office applications, such as inventory, accounting, and reporting.”

EMV And Payment Security

During the Retail IT VAR Of The Future preview webinar, Monocello comments, “EMV is a big issue to retailers and because it’s such a big issue, it’s a big opportunity for VARs.”

He says VARs could benefit from taking the perspective that EMV isn’t just a chance to make a one-time sale, but it can be a part of a bigger conversation about security. “Use it as a springboard to other sales and services.” He cites an article in BSM’s March edition, “Why Now Is The Right Time To Sell EMV,” that outlines some opportunities EMV creates, including turning EMV into a recurring revenue generator. EMV — and payment security, in general — provides the opportunity for VARs to offer ongoing services to keep systems operating at their optimum, to ensure they are current on software updates, and to perform system and compliance audits.

In the webinar, Monocello says deciding “EMV isn’t right for my customers” could mean VARs miss opportunities. He also points out as larger retailers deploy EMV-enabled systems, “it’s only a matter of time until criminals start working downstream to smaller retailers.”

Customer Experience

Randy Roe, founder and president of Retail Technology Services in Seattle, WA, and Retail IT VAR Of The Future panelist, joined the webinar to preview the topic of customer experience. The conference agenda includes a discussion of installing technology for merchants that allows them to provide better customer experience.

Roe says POS plays a major role in customer experience. “It’s the customer’s last experience before they leave the store. Merchants don’t want the last touch point to be a negative experience.”

Roe advises retail VARs to ask their clients directed questions to find out what their desired outcomes are. “Align tech with that. It will be a much more meaningful solution,” Roe says.

He points out your merchant clients might not beware of the options available to them, such as using digital signage to provide a consistent message or using traffic counting to help managers schedule staff efficiently. “They aren’t sure what they should spend money on to get the ROI they deserve,” he says, “But when lines are too slow, you discover this problem, and you fix it, they can see what the ROI will be. It could increase your sales.”

The full Retail IT VAR Of The Future preview webinar is available on demand. Click here.

For more information on the Retail IT VAR Of The Future conference, visit www.retailitvarofthefuture.com/ or email Abby.Sorensen@BSMinfo.com.

Conference sponsors include Platinum sponsors BlueStar, ScanSource, and Worldpay, Gold sponsor Moneris, and Silver sponsors AML and CRS.