By Gennifer Biggs, Business Solutions magazine.
With increased competitive pressure in the POS market, VARs will need to think about sales beyond the all-in-one terminal, such as mobile solutions and integration and management services.
The point of sale (POS) hardware market continues to be a competitive space with many VARs facing the challenge of thinking creatively to extend allin- one POS sales — and any hardware-only sales — into longer-term engagements. Two industry experts, Steve Schoenecker, senior product manager of food services for Panasonic, and John Nicewick, VP of marketing for the retail industry at ELO Touch, say there are plenty of ways VARs can do just that.
All-In-One Offers Advantages Over Low-Cost Bundles
With “as-a-service” bundles gaining a foothold in the POS marketplace, some VARs are finding themselves contending with undervalued hardware/ software bundles that competitors offer for a low monthly fee. The trick to winning that sale, says Schoenecker, is recommending a solution that is not only proven to be reliable in the client’s environment, but still offers a lower total cost of ownership (TCO) over the entire product life cycle. Nicewick adds that rather than a standardized bundle, most POS customers want advice and guidance from their IT partner, so VARs who collaborate with customers to build a customized allin- one system uniquely tailored for their customer’s business needs will win the day. “While bundling is not new, it has historically faced a series of challenges such as buyer preferences for a particular hardware or software brand, increasing scale, and competitive differentiation,” explains Nicewick. “Ultimately, preconfigured bundles limit the retailer’s ability to customize the POS stack to meet the specific technology and brand appearance requirements of the store. VARs should leverage their ability to match a customer’s monthly payment model, provide a choice of leading hardware and software that best matches the customer’s particular requirements, and offer integrated services and on-site support.”
Those services and support can equate to a recurring revenue model that transcends the traditional hardware-only sale. With all-in-one solutions, VARs can offer flexibility around upgrades and life cycle management that is not available with bundled solutions. “Our partners can offer separate life cycle management time frames for each component of their POS technology platform,” explains Nicewick. “Monthly payment bundles often require ‘forklift’ upgrades of all components on a single life cycle schedule.”
Schoenecker adds that the modular structure of all-in-one POS terminals also allows for flexible installation and easy maintenance, not to mention they are purpose-built for extreme environments, which helps lower TCO. Plus, today’s advanced POS systems support intelligence-gathering features that bundles rarely support. The difference, he adds, is a POS system that integrates across the entire business network and offers ruggedness that extends productivity and uptime — a set of benefits that bundled systems rarely offer.
Move Sale Beyond Stand-Alone POS Opportunity
VARs also can overcome increased competition by learning to see each POS sale as a bigger opportunity. “We encourage VARs to look beyond a stand-alone POS sale and consider a fully integrated technology solution to increase margins and create greater value for customers,” Schoenecker explains. For example, VARs can offer customer-facing displays and digital signage or layer on software that delivers POS data analytics to improve efficiencies and profitability for customers. Plus, many of today’s POS systems are built to integrate with physical security solutions such as IP cameras.
Nicewick explains that advanced features in today’s POS solutions can serve as an opportunity for VARs to further integrate themselves with POS customers, moving beyond cash drawers and printers to offer support around mobile POS. “We see retailers making strategic business decisions with handhelds, tablets, and distributed POS solutions based on specific point of service, point of information, mobile assistant, or mobile checkout use cases,” explains Nicewick. “The savvy reseller brings this discussion to its customers, understands the opportunities and limitations of each solution, and avoids getting too starry-eyed about a single solution.” He adds that before a VAR begins these types of discussions, there needs to be a clear understanding of the retailer store, associates, and patrons. With that insight, the conversation moves beyond hardware negotiations to business consultation.
Don’t Overlook Role Of Services In POS
Another option for extending a relationship with a POS customer is to layer services over software and hardware sales. “Selling services is an excellent way for VARs to increase revenue and generate ongoing sales,” says Schoenecker. “VARs can offer remote device control integration for system management and remote diagnostics, particularly for integrated POS and digital signage solutions. Content management and creation can also be outsourced to update electronic notifications in real time.”
Nicewick agrees that services help VARs provide value that vendors and Web-based providers simply cannot. “VARs increase value as they provide more strategic, customized, and on-site services.” By offering a business value — best practices, integrations, management services — VARs offer a quicker path to success for POS customers. Nicewick recommends services such as technical support, field service, omni-channel integration networking, security, remote management/monitoring, and remote backup/disaster recovery.
The bottom line is to think beyond the traditional sale and consider how you can empower your customers to better serve their customers, meet the evolving demands of POS, increase security (both physical and payment), and improve their business. With that accomplished, you won’t have to squabble with customers over all-in-one terminal sales when they have a low-cost bundle offer in front of them — you’ll be a trusted advisor that guides them to the right solution.