Show Outside-The-Four-Walls POS Value
A VAR/ISV (independent software vendor) uses its POS (point of sale) solution expertise to become a retailerâ€™s go-to POS partner.
If you attend many trade shows or conferences, you've probably heard the advice, "become your customer's go-to partner." At first you may think this advice is marketing speak with no real substance, but after talking with hundreds of VARs over the years, I have to say there's definitely something to be said about how the best VARs become valued partners with their customers compared with average VARs. pcAmerica is the kind of company that falls into the former category. pcAmerica is a POS VAR and ISV specializing in retail and restaurant POS sales and services. In 2006, the VAR experienced 15% sales revenue growth, and in 2007 the company is projecting 60% sales revenue growth over 2006 sales.
One customer win that illustrates how pcAmerica endears itself to its customers is Airport Wireless, a wireless specialty retailer with more than 30 retail stores located at major airports throughout the United States. Airport Wireless first discovered pcAmerica after viewing a print ad in a business technology magazine. "One of the things that first attracted the customer to us was the fact that we offered our own Cash Register Express POS software and best-of-breed POS hardware as a bundled solution, which meant that we could fulfill all of their POS needs," says David Gosman, CEO of pcAmerica. "After speaking with the CEO of the company, we discovered Airport Wireless was looking for a return management program that could help it more efficiently capture information about product returns to ensure it would be reimbursed by its merchandise vendor partners." With pcAmerica's software programming expertise, it was able to customize its Cash Register Express Enterprise Edition software and meet the customer's requirements, which led to a sales win.
Combine Best-Of-Breed POS Components With Sound Advice
The solution included Dell Optiplex PCs equipped with pcAmerica's software, plus Metrologic MS1690 Focus imager-based bar code scanners, Epson TM-T88IV receipt printers, Elo TouchSystems 1529L multifunction desktop touch screen computers with integrated mag-stripe readers, APG cash drawers, Cognitive Solutions Bar Code Advantage bar code label printers, and Motorola (formerly Symbol) MC9090 handheld computers. "We chose Metrologic imager-based scanners because they have a fast response coupled with high read-rate accuracy, they can read bar codes oriented in any direction, and they have fewer moving parts, which makes them more durable than laser-based scanners," says Gosman. "The bar code printer was necessary to enable the customer to print bar code labels for products that do not ship with bar code labels, and it can be used to print shelf tags. The Motorola handhelds enable store clerks to take inventory of store products and run discrepancy reports that help the retailer keep an eye on product shrinkage. Airport Wireless staff also will use them in the future for inventory receiving and transfers."
pcAmerica is also in the process of configuring its POS software to interface with the customer's video surveillance and DVR (digital video recorder) equipment, which enables the customer to sync POS transaction data with close-up views of products to ensure products are being rung up properly and to thwart employee theft. The VAR recommended its client contract with network service provider New Edge Networks to provide Airport Wireless with a secure WAN, which enables the retailer to establish VPN (virtual private network) connections among stores and with headquarters. "The secure WAN shares sales data between all sites and the corporate office in real time, which ensures stores don't run out of popular merchandise. It also allows the retailer to move slower merchandise from one store to another store where it is in higher demand," says Gosman.
Since pcAmerica's first install with Airport Wireless a couple of years ago, the VAR has become the retailer's go-to POS partner as Airport Wireless has continued to grow. "I attribute a large part of the loyalty the customer has shown us to our consultative approach to selling and software customization capabilities," says Gosman. "On several occasions, they came to us with a question such as, 'What do you think is the best way for us to move inventory from store to store?' We followed up right away with our recommendation, and in most cases they took what we suggested at face value and gave us the go-ahead to install the hardware, software, and/or service necessary to make it work."