Don’t Let Your Competition Discover These RetailNOW 2019 Hidden Gems

By: Jim Roddy, VP of Marketing at the RSPA

“When the rate of change inside an institution becomes slower than the rate of change outside, the end is in sight.”

Jack Welch made that foreboding statement two decades ago, shortly before stepping down as Chairman and CEO of General Electric. GE has experienced financial hardship as of late because they didn’t heed Welch’s words, causing their assets, net profits, stock price, and number of employees to shrink.

What about your business? Is your rate of change faster or slower than the rest of the retail IT channel? Do you know with certainty how fast our industry is changing, merging, and shifting? Those questions alone are why I’m recommending that every point of sale VAR, ISV, MSP, vendor, and distributor executive who is serious about their business immerse themselves in RetailNOW 2019.

Notice I didn’t say “attend”, “check out”, or “stop by” the event. Immersing yourself at RetailNOW will be key to your having a successful 2020 and beyond. This is the year to embrace APG Cash Drawer President Mark Olson’s motto, “You can sleep when you get to the old folks’ home,” and absorb every morsel of information this year’s event has to offer.

You can preview the full show agenda here (the event runs July 28-31 in San Antonio) but today let me share with you some of the often overlooked parts of RetailNOW where you can squeeze extra value and ultimately position your business ahead of your competitors:

  • Networking breakfast (Monday-Wednesday, 7:00-7:45 AM): If you don’t have a breakfast appointment scheduled, start your day right meeting a new potential partner here. If you don’t arrive at breakfast until 7:40ish (along with everyone else and their grandmother), you’ll miss out on some potentially fruitful one-on-one conversations – and the non-decaf coffee. Early bird gets the worm.
  • Bring a co-worker (or two): Technology has come a long way, but it still can’t put you in two places at once. Attending the show with a co-worker and splitting up during education sessions is the best way to consume the plethora of RetailNOW education. If you attend by yourself, you’ve got quite a dilemma. Take the 11:00 AM breakouts Monday for example where you can choose only one of these ed sessions to attend: blockchain/cryptocurrency, payment processing, SMB innovation, keeping talent, and voice of the customer. Monday’s noon slot of breakouts doesn’t get any easier for you to choose from: as-a-Service, professional services, leadership, VAR SMB success, and recurring revenue. Make a plan to divide and conquer RetailNOW’s education.
  • Lunch (Monday-Wednesday, various times): I like hanging out with my industry friends, but there’s lots of value to taking your boxed lunch to a highboy table occupied by an unfamiliar face (or more than one) and asking, “So, what does your business do?” You never know who could teach you about a new offering, new business model, or new sales technique that will boost your business. (Author’s note #1: Hundreds of first-time attendees are already registered for this year’s show, so there’s an excellent chance for exposure to new ideas.)
  • Community meetings: (Monday-Tuesday, various times): I’m not a female, a millennial, or from north of the border, but I’ve found value attending the RSPA’s W2W (Women to Women), NextGen, and Canadian Community meetings at past RetailNOWs. I gain a more complete perspective of the channel by putting myself in someone else’s shoes. I still recall my eyes opening wide at the 2016 W2W meeting where I heard Andrea Roberts from VAR Teletec Systems describe her standing her ground when the male owner of a merchant customer insisted he wouldn’t give his payment to a woman. (Author’s note #2: You’re darn right Andrea got the check.) If you’re a woman, a 20- or 30-something, or a native of Canada, these communities will enable you gain a deeper perspective of your part of the retail IT channel.
  • The last day (Wednesday): During my 20+ years in our industry at every multi-day event I’ve attended – except when BlueStar hosts VARTECH on an ocean cruise ship miles from shore – many folks head home early and miss the conference’s full story. The last day of RetailNOW is packed this year featuring keynote Jeff Havens, one of my favorite business speakers of all time, and 16 educational breakouts discussing (in alphabetical order) business valuation, change management, content marketing, digital marketing, hospitality, multi-layer security, POS, payments, qualifying prospects, sales compensation, sales management, sales strategy, security attacks, security controls, and vendor partnerships. If you leave early, you’ll miss out on all that just to catch up on emails, pay invoices, or something else that won’t change the trajectory of your business.

This isn’t the year to save time by attending only part of RetailNOW. This isn’t the year to catch up on sleep and miss the breakfast and morning sessions. This is the year to accelerate your success. Wear comfortable shoes and put your pedal to the metal because the outside world isn’t slowing down.

Jim Roddy is the Vice President of Marketing for the Retail Solutions Providers Association (RSPA). He has been active in the POS 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 is regularly requested to speak at industry conferences and he is author of Hire Like You Just Beat Cancer. For more information, contact