Blog | January 15, 2014

Retail VARs: Show Some Appreciation!

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By Mike Monocello, editor-in-chief, Business Solutions magazine
Follow Me On Twitter @monocello

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Many of these columns include my strongly recommending, no, urging, you to take action on adopting new technologies or adjusting your business model to include more recurring revenue. This month, I’d like to take a break to put a spotlight on what I think are some impressive actions and to publicly hand out some kudos.

If you do any business in the retail or restaurant verticals, you should know that your association, the RSPA, has been hard at work in the past year representing your best interests.

For example, last May the RSPA was appointed to the 2013-2015 PCI Security Standards Council Board of Advisors. Joe Finizio, executive director of industry strategies and relationships, says, “Appointment to the PCI SSC Board of Advisors is an important opportunity for RSPA to ensure that the interests of our membership are taken into account in the ongoing development of PCI security standards.” Looking forward to that!

Also, you may or may not know that in the past, IT solutions providers have been a common and easy scapegoat when payment breaches occur. With the RSPA on the board, I’m confident the retail channel will get a more fair shake going forward.

With so much change taking place in regard to the retail IT landscape, education and guidance for POS VARs and ISVs is priceless. The RSPA team offered tons of free education in 2013, with plenty more planned for this year. If you’re an RSPA member, archives of all past webinars are available on the organization’s website (www.gorspa. org). Why wouldn’t you want to learn “How to Sell Gift & Loyalty” and “How to Hire, Fire and Compensate a Sales Superstar”? Other sessions include, “EMV is Coming: Are You Ready?” and “How VARs Can Cash-in on the Move to Omni-Channel Retailing.” This is fantastic and relevant education specifically designed for you.

Subscribe to Business Solutions magazineThe RSPA also launched a Strategic Technology Solutions (STS) Committee. The STS has been developing thought leadership articles, available in each month’s issue of CONNECT (the RSPA’s magazine) and archived electronically on BSMinfo.com, aimed at educating members on new and emerging technologies, including how to evaluate new vendors, what it takes to adopt the technologies, and key vendors to consider. What other organization in the retail space is helping you navigate the seas of change?

Additionally, the RSPA is planning an updated version of its certification program. The gist of this program is that solutions providers take the necessary steps to meet the program’s education and reputability requirements to gain the certified badge. With RSPA certification, you can walk confidently into customer sites knowing you have something that distinguishes you from the many fly-by-night operations out there. The second, longer-term plan for certification is end user awareness so your customers are aware of the value of the certification when you flaunt it.

Finally, while the RSPA’s two events each year are the best available in the retail channel, things hit an all-time high in 2013. The winter conference, INSPIRE, was topnotch and jump started the conversation between VARs and vendors around the as-a-Service model. In the summer, RSPA RetailNOW was the largest and most successful in the history of the organization. The education was amazing, and the show floor was packed with solutions providers eager to find the next big thing. If you’re a retail VAR and haven’t attended this event, do yourself and your company a favor and get there this year.

Now for the kudos. None of the above would be possible without the hard work of the RSPA leadership and staff who work tirelessly juggling a variety of tasks and roles. I’ve talked with RSPA staff members off the record and am always surprised at how they really care about making the lives of members better. However, the RSPA staff is small considering all the work that needs to be done to provide so many services to its members. Therefore, big thanks also go to all the VARs and vendors who volunteer their time away from their day jobs to participate on committees, help with education, serve on the RSPA’s board, etc. These people don’t get paid for this work, yet they’re equally dedicated to helping members. Indeed, the RSPA leadership, staff, and all the volunteers are dedicated to helping you, whether you know it or not.

Membership dues are blow-your-mind affordable and easily recouped when you consider the free education and access to member benefits I didn’t even mention in this article (free legal advice, shipping discounts, cell phone discounts, etc.). If you aren’t a member, join. If you are, make sure you thank the RSPA team the next time you run into them or, minimally, send an email of appreciation.

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