RetailNOW 2019 General Session: “We Have to be Bold Explorers”

By: Aina Afzal, RSPA Event Coordinating Intern 

Two of RSPA’s leaders – President and CEO John Kirk and Legal Counsel Bob Goldberg – kicked off the opening General Session of RetailNOW 2019 with guidance for the channel executives in attendance.

Kirk shared leadership-focused advice including:

  • “I had a coach who would tell me that everyone is going to be replaced. But why don’t we replace you with a better version of you?”
  • “We have to be bold explorers. In the next 60 hours, there will be seeds of transformation planted.”
  • “We have to do the hard things today so we don’t have to do the impossible tomorrow.”

Kirk then announced three new RSPA member benefits including preferred rates on health insurance and other HR services, discounted promotional items and office supplies, and the Retail Experience Center to showcase innovative technologies in the retail IT industry. (For details on these programs, see the article “New RSPA Member Benefits Unveiled at RetailNOW” in this issue.) Kirk also shared statistics from RSPA fiscal year 2019 (which closed April 30), highlighted by growth in revenue and membership (+6%), including 49 new reseller members.

He finished with encouragement for how VARs, ISVs, and vendors can transform their businesses – which includes relying on the RSPA and fellow members. “We’ve got to be flexible,” Kirk said. “We can’t change the flow or the speed of the current for you, but we can jump in the water with you and help you transform.”

POS Channel Challenges
Following Kirk’s address during the opening session, Goldberg presented his point of sale industry update. He listed the trends the channel is grappling with including consolidation, supplier reorganizations and refocus, software-driven solutions, generational changes, and the shift to POS systems being viewed as data collection devices for analyzing customer behavior and store performance.

Goldberg certainly caught the audience’s attention when he listed some of the biggest threats facing our industry. Among them were more sophisticated/educated purchasers, reduced margins, ransomware, suppliers as competitors, tariffs, performance compensation, and end-user control. Goldberg noted it’s critical that RSPA members not only protect themselves from threats but also protect their merchants.

Goldberg stressed that agreements or contracts made between resellers and suppliers – and also between employers and employees – must be fair, equitable, ethical, and comply with the ever-changing local, state, and federal laws. Many new laws regarding hiring and compliance have been enacted in 2019 or are on the horizon to be implemented soon. Goldberg explained that compliance with each new law is difficult, but your business must be aware of and meet requirements. VARs, especially, must keep an eye on the language surrounding liabilities so you are not taken advantage of.

These changes require us all to be more careful, but RSPA members don’t have to go it alone. Goldberg encourages members to come to him for help through the association’s Legal Advisor hotline and to contact the RSPA team to maximize your membership benefits. Take advantage of the knowledge the RSPA has amassed to help protect – and grow – your business.

About RetailNOW
RetailNOW 2019 was held July 28-31 at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio, TX. Known as “Where the Industry Meets,” RetailNOW annually brings together retail IT professionals, channel leaders, and innovators from around the globe. RetailNOW 2020 will be held at the Venetian Resort in Las Vegas August 2-5. For more information, contact