Channel Innovator: POS Winner
This POS (point of sale) VAR added 25 new clients by developing a series of solutions tailored for specific retail markets.
It is somewhat ironic that a company named Business Solutions Partners (BSP) is this year’s winner of the Business Solutions Channel Innovator Award for POS technologies. However, a closer look at BSP’s solution reveals that this VAR has more in common with this magazine than just a name. In particular, BSP’s solution is vertically focused and involves partnerships that are key to the company’s sales growth. (Selling customized vertical solutions and partnering with other channel providers to achieve sales growth are common themes in Business Solutions editorial.) BSP designs custom solutions for clients in industries such as distribution, manufacturing, financial services, and retail. For the latter, the company conducted market research to determine which retail niches had the biggest need for improved POS technology solutions. According to Shawn Ezhaghi, retail systems project manager at BSP, the research indicated that the apparel, wine/liquor, and jewelry markets were the best targets for BSP. Thus, Ezhaghi and his team created three vertically focused POS bundles built around Microsoft Retail Management System (RMS). To complement the software, BSP added hardware such as Epson receipt printers, MMF cash drawers, Metrologic bar code scanners, Zebra label printers, Logic Controls pole displays, Elo TouchSystems touch screen monitors, ID-Tech mag-stripe readers, and Cherry keyboards.
Customize Through Hardware/Software Partnerships
“For each vertical bundle, we set up three packages offering different hardware and software solutions at various price levels,” explains Ezhaghi. For example, the Apparel bundle includes Small, Medium, and Large packages. The Small package comes with a computer, flat screen monitor, scanner, cash drawer, receipt printer, keyboard with built-in mag-stripe reader, Microsoft RMS, and fashion software developed by BSP’s ISV (independent software vendor) partner, Retail Realm. The fashion software integrates with RMS to provide additional management for creating, editing, and reporting of matrix (e.g. size, color) items. The Medium package includes all of the Small package’s components plus pole displays and gift loyalty software. The gift loyalty software helps the retailer configure incentives for frequent shoppers (i.e. rewarding their visits with points that can be redeemed as gift vouchers or account credits). The Large package includes all of the components of the Medium package plus hardware such as signature capture terminals, label printers, and omnidirectional scanners.
In addition to partnering with Retail Realm for the customized software, BSP developed an alliance with computer manufacturer Aspect Computers for the bundles’ PC hardware. “Our work with Aspect centered around the needs of the small to midsize retailers,” Ezhaghi says. “Therefore, the final product was a small footprint computer with all the necessary connection ports for POS peripherals. The small footprint computer was designed to provide enough power while saving room for limited counter space.” In addition, the computers come preloaded with RMS, the appropriate vertical software, and peripheral drivers. By designing these bundles to be deployable out of the box, BSP saves its clients time and implementation costs and reduces the errors often associated with complex installation/configuration procedures.
BSP first designed its custom bundles in March 2005 and currently has 25 clients using at least one of these solutions. Ezhaghi says the Apparel and Wine/Liquor bundles are the most popular. “We designed all of our POS bundles to be flexible enough to be used in similar industries,” he comments. “For instance, we are currently pitching our Apparel bundle to gift shops and hardware stores because its functionality fits these clients, too. What makes our bundles vertically targeted is the add-on software and certain variations to the hardware peripherals for each industry. For example, we’ll modify our Wine/Liquor bundle, which comes with touch screen monitors that can be sold and set up in hardware stores.”