RSPA RetailNOW14: Three Major Takeaways

Another year, another RSPA RetailNOW in the books. This year’s RetailNOW was full of fantastic networking opportunities, educational sessions and numerous conversations around moving the industry forward.

The RSPA (Retail Solutions Providers Association) hosts RetailNOW every summer and dubs the conference, “Where the Industry Meets”. The Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center in Orlando, Florida provided the setting for this year’s conference, which took place August 3-6. 

Every year, a couple of major themes seem to resonate with the audience, which consist of point-of-sale developers and resellers. After numerous conversations with attendees and multiple educational sessions the three main themes I identified during RetailNOW 2014 were the growth of mobile POS, the influence of new service models and the importance of thinking of EMV as a business opportunity.


Mobile POS

Mobile point-of-sale (mPOS) is not a new topic. The retail industry has been discussing mPOS for quite some time. Large retailers such as Apple and Nordstrom employ successful mPOS strategies and with the new wave of POS developers looking to develop app-like POS software, it’s safe to say, mPOS isn’t going anywhere. Mobile POS comes in two flavors. The first revolves around the use of tablet-based POS systems. The second involves mobile extensions of traditional point-of-sale systems.

Tablet-based point of sale is cost effective and many ISVs (Independent Software Vendors) are beginning to develop POS software specifically for Apple’s App Store or Google’s Play Store. By charging monthly, these POS developers are creating new business and service models for dealers. There are also system integrators that can create in-aisle check-out solutions for traditional, counter-top POS systems. These mobile extensions allow businesses to improve check-out times, long lines at the counter, and create a cool shopping experience for customers. Resellers and Dealers are extremely interested in mPOS and it’s easy to see why.


New Service Models

With margins shrinking, it’s easy to see why new service models are an important theme. Not only did the benefits of a SaaS (software as a service) model come up in almost every session, but so did the bundling of different professional service models. Selling traditional POS, barcode scanners and basic tech support is no longer a profitable solution suite for resellers and dealers. To truly compete in today’s market, resellers must invest in professional services such as payments, marketing, consulting, and other areas of IT.

Project-based service models are also dwindling. Resellers that look to adapt to subscription/monthly based service models tend to create better value for their customers.


EMV as an Opportunity

EMV was also a major topic of discussion at RetailNOW. EMV (Europay Mastercard and Visa) is a form of payment that is used prominently in other countries around the world. The United States has traditionally struggled to incorporate and adopt this technology due to various infrastructure roadblocks. However, with increased scrutiny around security and a large liability shift looming, we are seeing major efforts by businesses to adopt EMV in the States.

This shift will require a large overhaul of existing payment terminals. This is a tremendous opportunity for solution providers and resellers. Resellers should be urged to use this as an opportunity to sell upgrades and other services and consult with their customers on how to implement an effect EMV strategy.

There were many other topics discussed at RetailNOW14, but these seemed to be at the center of many of the conversations and sessions I was a part of. And it make sense; each theme presents an opportunity for resellers to increase margin, expand their offering and create upsell and cross-sell opportunities from their existing customer-base.

This is an exciting time for the retail industry and I’m looking forward to seeing how the industry will change in the coming months. There are only 355 days till RSPA RetailNOW 2015, but who’s counting…