From The Editor | September 3, 2015

RetailNOW 2015: Distributors Focus On Managed Services, So Should You

jim roddy

By Jim Roddy, VP of Marketing, RSPA

ScanSource & BlueStar

When BlueStar and ScanSource, the two most powerful distributors in the point of sale and data collection space, commit significant resources to an initiative, everyone in the channel better pay attention or risk falling behind.

At RetailNOW 2015, BlueStar VP of Marketing Mark Fraker moderated a panel discussion titled “As-a-Service: The Evolution Continues” while ScanSource CTO Greg Dixon hosted “Retail IT in TransITion: The Survivor’s Way Forward” which detailed how retail IT VARs can transition to a recurring revenue business model. Additionally at the show, ScanSource launched its As-A-Service Suite, a program designed to help resellers overcome the most common obstacles faced when transitioning to managed services, while BlueStar heavily promoted its Hybrid SaaS solutions.

Are you sensing a theme here?

During my nearly two decades in the channel, folks have asked me how to best see around corners. Since my Magic 8 ball proved unreliable, I embraced this philosophy which has served me well: “Follow The Distributors.”

Distys are ingrained with all the key vendors and solutions providers, and they use that collective perspective to move more accurately than other individual companies can. Plus, they boast billions of dollars in revenue, so when they jump into the pool, water is bound to be displaced.

At RetailNOW, I sat down for an hour with Dixon and Paul Constantine, the president of ScanSource POS and Barcode for the U.S. and Canada, and all we discussed was managed services. The flyer they showed me to start our conversation about their As-A-Service Suite was headlined “GET READY FOR THE FUTURE OF RETAIL.” Yes, it was ALL CAPS.

Dixon and Constantine detailed for me hardware and software bundles — some on the record and others not yet ready for public consumption — that enable VARs to sell solutions as-a-Service and immediately start a monthly recurring revenue stream. Dixon and Constantine also said there’s more to come in terms of bundled solutions and dashboard tools that enable remote monitoring and management (RMM) for POS equipment.

BlueStar’s panel session at RetailNOW, billed as exploring “the critical need for VARs to transition their business to a recurring revenue, as-a-Service model,” included insights from BlueStar’s Jason Firment, director of POS and VARCOM, related to the response BlueStar has had to its new Hybrid SaaS solutions. These solutions allow resellers to receive payment upfront, enabling them to maintain their current business model as they begin the transition to the as-a-Service model — as well as eliminating their financial risk. The solution is designed so at the end of a 24- or 36-month term, the VAR revisits the customer for a product refresh, further enhancing recurring revenue possibilities. And when I attend BlueStar’s VARTECH Conference later this month, I’d bet you my house and my new shed that as-a-Service will be discussed. (You’ll lose that bet; I peeked at the VARTECH agenda and it includes a Solutions Session titled “Transitioning Your Business Model to As-a-Service Model.”)

I ask again — are you sensing a theme here? And have you ever known ScanSource and BlueStar to ever not make an impact on the channel when they have so much energy behind an initiative?

I hope this serves as a wake-up call to resellers who are hesitating to integrate managed services and the recurring revenue business model into their organization. If you don’t “Follow The Distributors,” you’re heading in the wrong direction.

For more articles on RetailNOW 2015, held August 2-5 at the Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center in Orlando, and the Retail Solutions Providers Association (RSPA), go to