By: Jim Roddy, VP of Marketing at the RSPA
When I’m asked what industry events I attend, I share that my guiding principle is “I go where the VARs are.” So when RSPA vendor member Toshiba asked me to represent the RSPA and speak at their Aug. 28 roadshow in Center City Philadelphia, I replied, “What time do you want me there?” The event attracted resellers in the retail, grocery, and hospitality verticals from the eastern U.S. and Canada to hear updates on Toshiba’s channel program and new technology offerings.
“Everything Has Flipped”
- One longtime successful VAR shared with me that’s he’s surprised how quickly our industry’s shift to the as-a-Service business model is accelerating. He noted that “everything has flipped” where retail IT VARs, formerly known as “POS resellers,” are today leading with payments and other recurring revenue services. He’s embracing that technique in an interesting way, making sales calls to merchant sites where competing POS systems are installed to pitch the merchant only Wi-Fi and cellular failover services. He calls it “selling a lot of little bits” that add up and can provide in-roads to larger installs.
- When discussing how large vendors should view working with SMB VARs, an executive told me those vendors need to “think big and act small.” For years I’ve relayed that thought (though not as eloquently) to vendors who want to grow their reseller channel. In the vast majority of situations, VARs are SMBs and their customers are SMBs, so they’re used to SMB-to-SMB communication. So when a vendor doesn’t attempt to connect with a VAR on a personal level – doesn’t take time to understand their business’ idiosyncrasies, makes them call an 800 number for everything, blasts them with an avalanche of one-size-fits all-emails – they’re burning a bridge before it’s even built.
- Guest presenter Gaurav Pant, the Chief Insights Officer at Incisiv, a research firm focusing on digital transformation, lived up to his title by offering plenty of insights on retail’s transformation. He started his talk with a message for VARs and their SMB merchants, “You’re no longer competing with only your next-door neighbor. Small retailers are always playing catchup to experiences established by other brands.”
- Pant also detailed how retail stores are changing and what actions they’re likely to take in 2020 and beyond. “In the future, the store will be the point of commerce and hubs of fulfillment and experiences. 40% of retailers will increase backroom space dedicated to online order fulfillment,” he said. “From an investment standpoint, frictionless checkout is a top priority for retailers. Core store technology infrastructure is vital to execute this. You need good Wi-Fi to make this work.”
The VAR of the Future
My presentation, based on my observations of and conversations with leading resellers, was titled “The VAR of the Future is … a Total Solution Provider.” Let’s take a quick look at the three aspects I discussed that comprise a Total Solution Provider:
- Offers a complete solution: VARs who transform their business to offer the total solution – hardware, software, networking, and services – are positioned for a successful future. See the The Ultimate List of Recurring Revenue Products & Services published on the RSPA blog to help you get a jump-start on this.
- Provides a world-class, personalized customer experience: I shared with the Toshiba attendees three principles and 11 best practice tactics that can help them execute this. One of the key principles is “Speed Over Solution.” Yes, merchants want their problem solved, but even more importantly they want it addressed Because technology can be complex, they’ll understand why a fix might take a while, but they’re unforgiving if you don’t answer your phone or respond quickly.
- Operates efficiently: This includes several aspects such as hiring and developing high-capacity employees who produce an above-average volume of work and embracing automation to let technology do the work for you.
If you would like to take a deeper dive into the world of the Total Solution Provider, contact me so we can chat and I can send you a copy of my slide deck. Or we can take things one step further and meet Sept. 25 in Austin, TX for the next Toshiba Partner Roadshow.