Feature Article: Thrive In Today's Grocery POS Vertical
By Mike Monocello, Business Solutions magazine.
MarketMaster is an ISV (independent software vendor) that creates software for grocery stores. More specifically, the ISV's software provides functionality for all areas of a grocery store — grocery POS/checkout lanes, inventory, receiving docks, back office (pricing, balancing, profitability functionality), and everything else in between. Based on the first two quarters of 2011, the ISV, with yearly revenues around the $3.5M dollar mark, is projecting 30% growth on the year. According to Chuck Moeller, CEO, and Kristen Emerson, CFO of MarketMaster, their company's recent success can be attributed to two things — taking their grocery POS solutions to new countries and strategically and quickly adding software eatures that match the needs of their domestic customers.
Ask Moeller why he's looking to grow his business in areas like South America and the Caribbean, and his answer is simple: "The grocery POS business is better in South America than it is in the United States." Indeed, the ISV says his success abroad has been the most significant reason for his company's recent growth. Of course, one cannot simply set up shop in a new country and begin having success. Moeller explains that there have been many hurdles that stood in the way of his success. For example, Emerson explains that you need to spend time learning the idiosyncrasies of the new market. In MarketMaster's case, the ISV has looked to recruit resellers in those countries and then leverage the knowledge its dealer partners have.
Moeller adds that you must be open to making changes to your product if you're an ISV. If you're a VAR, you'll want to ensure that you're working with an ISV that's willing to make adjustments to its products. Oftentimes, Moeller says, there are subtle changes that make a big difference. "We spell ‘check' one way and Canadians spell it ‘cheque,'" he says. "You need to be willing to make those changes if you want any chance at success. Beyond that, it's very important that your attitude and business processes also accommodate the uniqueness of the countries and culture in which you want to do business."
From a support standpoint, Emerson says there have been occasions where it's been difficult connecting to a customer via Internet for support. "We've had some customers that don't have any Internet connection," she says. "It's gotten better in recent years as quality, lowercost Internet connections have become more readily available, but there still are some places where people don't have the most up-to-date communications infrastructure."
Another difference in countries/islands that's becoming more prevalent has to do with the tax reporting capabilities of the grocery POS software being used. For instance, Puerto Rico is in the process of mandating that grocery stores have a direct connection to its tax offices to report all taxable sales and curb tax evasion. An ISV must be able to accommodate these regulations if it wants to have a chance of success in those markets.
Finally, Moeller mentions a difference he's noticed in these new markets — many VARs selling the same products. While market saturation can also be found in the United States, the ISV says it is more common in these smaller countries. MarketMaster's go-to-market strategy in these countries is to select one partner per territory to avoid creating a competitive environment rife with price cutting. The result has been a reseller network not competing with one another and therefore keeping prices at a consistent level.