Defining Your Value Add
I recently participated in an open reseller forum hosted by a key manufacturing partner of retail and AIDC (automatic identification and data collection) products. A conference attendee posed to our host questions for the new millennium: “How do we resellers get back to making margins on product? How do we get back to where we used to be?” The blunt response was, “We can’t go back. Yes, it was easier 10 years ago to make higher margins for new hardware sales, but the fact of the matter is, change happens.” That answer is a defining challenge for the reseller channel. When I think of change, I like to recall quotes from Anthony Hopkins in the movie Hearts In Atlantis – “wishing will not make it so” and “reality is what reality is.” So where do we go from here?
I think resellers must define their value proposition and embrace technology to drive that value. For instance, converged technology and broadband radio are creating a mobile workforce environment that generates genuine ROI, and the key element to profitability is the actual marriage of the software solution and specialized rugged hardware. Solutions such as this require specific vertical software, integration, and broadband licenses, and must include training and support. End users cannot purchase or implement these solutions by conducting a simple Internet key word search. But a description of the solution can be found on your Web site landing page. Yes, your landing page. Should you discontinue the Yellow Pages, trade shows, networking, or local ads? Of course not. Demand more from your partners to develop your value proposition.
Today at BlueStar, we have programs designed to provide marketing expertise, including Web design (and landing pages, which can be attached with integrated mailer campaigns). We promote a variety of vertical applications for grocery, retail, hospitality, mobile workforce, RFID (radio frequency identification), WMS (warehouse management system), and security to name a few. All of these solutions are interlaced to provide real value that cannot be duplicated by a few keystrokes.
Today, your manufacturing and distribution partners are waiting to assist you with growing your business, and they both have the skill sets and wherewithal to assist resellers in driving their value. Trade industry organizations can also help. For example, recently the RSPA (Retail Solution Providers Association) membership voted to create a greater open dialog with the retail/POS community to find ways to create education, training, and opportunities for those resellers that wish to embrace the future. Higher profitability is right around the corner – contact your ISVs (independent software vendors), partner associations, distributors and manufacturing partners to find out how you can leverage your value proposition. And by the way, read the articles in Business Solutions. They are a prime knowledge source for VARs seeking to increase their profits.
Steve Cuntz is the president and CEO of BlueStar, the Florence, KY, based international distributor of specialty electronics, including AIDC and point of sale products. Steve was originally hired as the chief financial officer in 1985 with a prior background in retail financial management and operations. He is a CPA and holds an MBA in Finance from Xavier University.