Where’s Our Industry Heading? Follow the Distributors

By: Jim Roddy, President & CEO at the RSPA

Two years ago, I didn’t know what UCaaS and EVCaaS were – and I’m guessing neither did you. But I can guarantee that two years from now, retail IT VARs and ISVs will be selling more and more UCaaS (Unified Communications as a Service) and EVCaaS (Electric Vehicle Charging Stations as a Service). 

How can I be so certain? Because that’s where our channel’s distributors are steering their solution provider partners.  

This fall at BlueStar’s VARTECH conference in Orlando and ScanSource’s Channel Connect in Nashville, I heard both distys emphasize to their partners that product expansion is a must to futureproof their organizations. “We all need to unlearn and relearn,” said BlueStar Canada President (and RSPA Board Chair) Michel Sirois. “We need to be curious and explore new stuff.” ScanSource SVP of Supplier Services (and former RSPA Board Member) Brenda McCurry told me, “You have to be a total solution provider. You have to go beyond one offer.” 

ScanSource CEO Mike Baur delivered a message about transformation as well: “It’s going to be hard to change from what you’ve been doing for the past 10-15 years. But if you do, you’ll attract the right people to your business, and you’ll have a future that’s extremely bright.”  

In between VARTECH and Channel Connect, I met in Greenville, SC, with channel leaders at distributors Ingram Micro and TD SYNNEX who echoed a similar message: VARs who want a profitable long-term future should transition towards becoming a Total Solution Provider. 

Market forces have been pushing VARs in that direction as merchants who want only a one-size-fits-all solution keep getting gobbled up by Toast, Square, and Clover. Distributors are positioned to help VARs move upstream by executing a strategy of offering more products and services to more sophisticated merchant clients. 

Now I don’t expect a small reseller specializing in POS to all-of-a-sudden pitch complex ERP solutions to their mom-and-pop restaurant clients, but there’s a whole bunch of appropriate technology and services between here and there to be offered. The more you lean on our industry’s distributors to help you execute, the better positioned your business will be for a new-and-improved future. 

For additional details on this trend, visit the RSPA Blog (GoRSPA.com/category/blog) to read VARTECH 2022 Analysis: BlueStar Challenges VARs, ISVs to Ditch Their Comfort Zone and “New ScanSource” Unveiled at Channel Connect 2022 Could Accelerate Retail IT Industry Transition. 

Another great source to help you grow your business will be RSPA Inspire 2023 (GoRSPA.org/inspire), the retail IT channel’s premier leadership conference, set for Jan. 22-25 at the Hyatt Resort in Maui. Not only does this event offer networking nirvana – in-depth access to our industry’s top executives and aspiring leaders at a world-class resort – but Inspire education will be centered on accelerating growth for VARs and ISVs. 

One half-day workshop will focus on helping our industry see around corners to take advantage of emerging technologies and trends. Who have we invited on stage for guidance? Distributors, of course. 

Hope to see you at Inspire! 

Jim Roddy is the President and CEO of the Retail Solutions Providers Association (RSPA). He has been active in the retail IT channel since 1998, including 11 years as the President of Business Solutions Magazine, six years as an RSPA board member, one term as RSPA Chairman of the Board, and several years as a business coach for VARs, ISVs, and MSPs. Jim has been recognized as one of the world’s Top 100 Retail Influencers by RETHINK Retail, a Leading CannaTech Influencer by The CannaTech Group, and is regularly requested to speak at industry conferences on SMB best practices. He is author of two books – The Walk-On Method To Career & Business Success and Hire Like You Just Beat Cancer – and is host of the award-winning RSPA Trusted Advisor podcast. For more information, contact JRoddy@GoRSPA.org.