Curious VAR's Guide To Expanding Your Product Portfolio
By Mike Monocello, editor-in-chief, Business Solutions magazine
At the beginning of the month I attended SYNNEX' National Conference in Greenville, SC. I really enjoy this event because it's not focused on one vertical or type of solution. Rather, you get a chance to see and hear about everything from servers, printers, and tablets to healthcare, education, and government. For those VARs open-minded enough to be looking for the next big opportunity, the expo floor of this broad event is the place to be. Likewise, it's a place for me to learn about these opportunities for myself.
3D Printing -- I'll admit that I'm enamored with this technology for personal reasons (oh, yes, I will own one). On the consumer end, these printers seem like great fun for hobbiests. Imagine my joy at seeing not just consumer-grade printers on the SYNNEX expo floor, but industrial-grade machines as well. Then imagine my utter glee when I learned that there's a channel play with these printers. Indeed, SYNNEX' education VARs are finding success selling 3D printers to high schools for use in their engineering and computer-aided drafting classes.
These printers aren't a commodity sale and the good ones are not cheap. What I'm saying here is that you might be able to make some decent money selling them. When I think of printers, I immediately think about consumables like ink, labels, and paper. While at the show, I heard unofficial reports that the consumable sales for 3D printers are very lucrative. And, unlike labels and ink, it's apparently very difficult to get undercut or shopped on the Internet. If you're an education VAR, 3D printers should be at the top of your list to investigate further.
Digital Signage -- While not a new technology, digital signage still hasn't reached the level of acceptance from the retail channel (particularly below tier one) that I think it deserves. I can only imagine that this is due to a lack of awareness and education when it comes to the digital signage content itself. Clearly, mounting and networking a big flat display shouldn't be scary to VARs. The only thing left is the content and sales training. If you've got an interest in digital signage, lean on your distributor partners for help. They can help you find the right partners for content, and/or they might have services to create the content for you. Additionally, since they want you to succeed, they're more than happy to help get you the training you need to successfully sell digital signage to your customers.
Tablets -- While clearly the most popular choice of today, iPads are not the only choice. You couldn't walk very far on the SYNNEX floor without running into another company that offered a tablet. Samsung (obvious) was there, as was Lenovo (enterprise-class tablet goodness), HP, Getac (military ruggedness), and many others. During the general session, Lenovo's President of North America, Jay Parker, spoke about how tablet sales were on the rise. Not a suprise, right? If you're not offering and selling tablets to your customers, someone else is. Get moving on this opportunity. And, if your customer wants an iPad, it doesn't mean you can't be offering all the services and peripherals needed for the device. The tablet phenomenom is an opportunity for VARs not stuck in fear and denial.
Cloud -- No matter what your level of experitise when it comes to delivering cloud subscription services, SYNNEX' goal is to have you covered with CloudSolv. In speaking with Jon Allen, VP of Cloud for SYNNEX, I learned that the distributor has been hard at work rolling out a robust 24-cloud service portfolio designed to help partners optimize profitability. The offering is designed for three different levels of needs (novice/no cloud experience to experienced MSPs), can be white labeled, has automated and unified billing, and includes financing options to help qualified VARs get paid up front. If you need help understanding and adding cloud services, there are clear ways to learn more.
Miscellaneous -- As I've already mentioned, attending conferences and expos is a great way to discover new products and help steer your business in the right direction. Frankly, if you don't attend conferences, I seriously question your level of knowledge and ability to serve your customers. The SYNNEX floor was loaded with many peripherals and unique technologies that you could sell if the fit was right. For instance, I ran across a company called Pivothead. They make sports sunglasses that have an integrated 1080p video camera in the frame. Think GoPro without having to mount a square camera on your head. The raw footage the company had playing in their booth was jaw droppingingly clear. In speaking with Pivothead's president, I learned that the company has some pilot projects going on in law enforcement. If you're in that vertical, what a unique and potentially money-making technology!
I also saw power protection solutions, DSLR cameras (did you know you can buy Canon cameras through SYNNEX?), wide format printers, tablet enclosures, adjustable-height desks, and projectors for classrooms. Essentially, if your customers have any need for technology, you could be responding. Distributors like SYNNEX have the technology end covered, you just need to be willing to expand your line card.