Justin Scopaz, general manager and VP, Ingram Micro Data Capture/POS division, was one of the members of the Industry Vision Panel at RetailNOW 2012, which took place July 29-Aug. 1 at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. The panel was divided into two segments, a hardware-focused group and software-focused group, and was moderated by Jim Roddy, president of Jameson Publishing and Business Solutions magazine. As part of the hardware-focused group, Scopaz shares his thoughts below on many of the different topics impacting the POS industry today that were discussed at the panel.
“State Of The Industry”
Jim Roddy, BSM: Talk about the landscape you’re seeing today in the retail IT industry. Give us the state of the industry from your perspective.
Justin Scopaz, Ingram Micro: I agree with everything that everyone said, and want to build off a point that Paul made. We're seeing a lot of the traditional VARs dealing with retail within the POS space starting to adopt adjacent technologies. Paul mentioned that you not only service POS for your retailer but also other IT products. So that's a trend that we're seeing significantly increase over the last year since we've had the panel last time.
The iPad Impact On The Retail Channel
Jim Roddy, BSM: An article published on the Business Solutions magazine website was titled, “Are You Tired Of Your Customers Asking About iPads?” It received close to the most reader comments we've received on any article posted on our website this year.
How much will iPads impact our channel? Is it going to damage it? Is it going to enhance it? Should resellers – some of them are fighting iPads – should they stop fighting and just join them by selling software that runs on iPads?
Justin Scopaz, Ingram Micro: We’re saying it's coming, and I think we would all agree it's here. And Ted's comment around managed services, that is a very important, critical aspect to deployment. I think there is a need for an opportunity for both of them to exist. I don't think they're going to be displacing all of the traditional point of sale systems, but I agree with Paul that it's our job as a distribution network and manufacturing partners to help you understand what the opportunities are.
And it seems like there's a lot of negative energy being put into tablets, and I think taking some of the energy and putting it into how to solve this thing, how can we create incremental partnerships is probably the way to go.
The Debate Surrounding Free POS
Jim Roddy, BSM: I’ve been told by some folks in our industry not to ask this next question. They said, “Don't touch this point. It's just too much of a hot-button in our industry.” But since it hits a nerve, I think we need to talk about it. The topic is free hardware. From your perspective, are vendors who are offering free hardware, are they wrecking the POS channel or are they leading the charge of what's coming?
And then, are resellers who participate in free hardware programs gaining a competitive advantage or are they shooting themselves in the foot. Or, as some folks think, are they shooting themselves in the head?
Justin Scopaz, Ingram Micro: I agree with everything that was said. I agree that payment processing is a great opportunity for VARs, so if you're not involved with that today, you should be. Free hardware is really a marketing opportunity or financing opportunity, and you need to understand it. Understand what they're offering against what you're offering, and how you can sell against it.
A couple of the comments have been here towards energy and frustrations. I would advise to put your energy into trying to understand something as opposed to trying to push against it because if it's a business model that works for them, it's not going to go away. If they're making money, they're not going to go away. Understanding what it is and how to sell against it would be critical.
Jim Roddy, BSM: Almost everyone in this industry I've talked with has seen a trend towards selling beyond point of sale and providing a total solution for the customer. I just heard in the RSPA (Retail Solutions Providers Association) board meeting Saturday that this organization is focused mostly on about 20 feet away from the entry door to a retail customer, and we need to expand beyond that.
Two technologies beyond POS are security, such as video surveillance, and also digital signage. What one piece of advice or what one pitfall to avoid would you give to the resellers in the audience in regards to these technologies?
Justin Scopaz, Ingram Micro: One of the things that keep me up at night is the fact that we have so many resources that are focused on these technologies, and we have people that are paid exclusively on going out and generating demand, working with partners on cross-selling. And I'm sure everyone here – I’m speaking more on behalf of distribution, not just Ingram Micro – but we have a lot of resources dedicated to these adjacent technologies. The first advice would be to leverage distribution and all that distribution has to offer. We’ll help you find the right hardware partners and content partners for digital signage, and connect you with the right ISVs as well.
A pitfall I would say is you need to understand what the objectives are when engaging a client. Clear objectives are important. We need to understand what they are, and then we will deliver against those objectives. And then second would probably be keeping it simple. Sometimes we try to overcomplicate things which would slow down a sale.
Jim Roddy, BSM: Everyone is concerned about channel sustainability. (Retail Solutions Providers Association CEO) Joe Finizio was talking about it this morning. You can wring your hands about it and fret, or you can do something about it. What actions would you say a reseller needs to take today to make sure that their business is relevant and thriving five years from now?
Justin Scopaz, Ingram Micro: Go on the offensive. Waiting for things to settle to understand at that point who you want to partner with and what's the right solution – it's going to be too late. Things are changing now. They're going to continue to change, and I would encourage everyone to jump in.
As far as one action to take, leverage distribution. As we mentioned now two or three times, you'd be in shock to know how many resources we have with people, with training, and manufacturer relationships that we can sync you up with. There's a lot there for you to take advantage of. That's our lifeblood. That's what we are here to do, and I would encourage you strongly to take advantage of it.
To read other panel member's thoughts, visit the pages below: