By Amber Murdock, RSPA
With Kelly Funk’s emphatic plea to the RetailNOW audience to deliver in order to dominate fresh on the mind, the 2016 RetailNOW show floor opened on Monday, August 1 with a flood of show goers pouring through the doors of Longhorn ABC.
The energy on the floor was electric — and not just because the bright lights of the more than 170 booths on the floor illuminated the breadth of the point of sale industry contained under one roof. Upon first glance, the growth of the show, and the industry itself, could be perceived as overwhelming: the strong presence of payments companies at the RetailNOW event alone offered reseller, independent software vendor, and independent sales organization attendees with enough choice to make one’s head spin. The energetic buzz radiating from the show floor was found in the many conversations happening at once, sounds emanating from the booths themselves — the din product demos, the appearance of special guests, or the clink-clank of bottles from the bars set-up in the spaces themselves.
Making Solid Connections
If the education offered at RetailNOW is the heart of the event, an argument could be made the Exhibit Floor is the soul of the show. The connections made on the show floor are invaluable to exhibiting vendors. “We absolutely love coming to the RetailNOW show every year — it’s one of our best shows,” said Suzanne Davis, part of the exhibiting team from Harbortouch, “We get to meet our reseller channel face-to-face and get engaged with them.”
Seeing partners in real-time is one of the primary reasons vendors attend RetailNOW. The nine hours the exhibit hall was open was dedicated time — education sessions and other events did not conflict with the show floor’s hours on Monday, August 1 and Tuesday, August 2. The focused time allowed resellers and vendors to have discussions that were as long, or as short, as needed: more than 10 networking areas were provided on the show floor, so that conversations could be conducted beyond the booth and allow time for both groups to form those key relationships needed to deliver when returning to their businesses.
“We get to have [our reseller channel] have hands-on experience with the Harbortouch product, and that is really priceless to us,” said Davis.
Product demos were plentiful on the show floor. Whether it was a chance to wear the Samsung VR glasses at the Vantiv booth, conduct a hands-on test of Toshiba’s self-checkout system, or demo a robot at the Verifone booth—attendees were able to get a great sense of what was new and trending in point of sale.
“We’ve introduced a lot of new products this year, so having the opportunity to meet with the right people, and having them actually be here in the exhibit hall and engaging us in great conversations has been immensely helpful,” said Ben Shipley, of POWERVAR.
Shipley’s perspective is similar to many exhibitors who see RetailNOW as a singular opportunity to meet with as many partners as possible. For resellers, the ability to get the hands-on experience with the products and solutions they are selling to their merchant customers is invaluable.
“What I love about the show is [seeing] all the new hardware and software, so I can sell to my customer better solutions,” said Jay Jung, of Microsys, Inc., a reseller based out of Johns Creek, GA.
A Place For Innovative Disruption
While Funk encouraged the crowd gathered in the Opening Session to be disruptors, exhibitors took heed. Dozens of product announcements and debuts took place on the show floor, along with a re-thinking of how to communicate key messages (booths had such features as campfire talks and guest speakers). Many exhibitors took advantage of the four pavilions — Mobility & Scanning, Security & Networking, IoT & Interactive Pavilion (sponsored by ScanSource) and Physical Security — which gave them an opportunity to display solutions and products with a more specific nature. For resellers, ISVs, and ISOs, the pavilions provided the chance to curate their own experience, especially if they had an interest in providing specialized information to their customers.
“I have been looking for information on security I could not find. Here, I could reach out and ask people,” said first-time attendee Carlos Rochin of Net Solutions POS, a reseller based in Austin, TX. “Here I was enlightened on how un-secure sites can be and customers are not aware of this. I think this is the most important point.”
The IoT and Interactive Pavilion was formed in response to feedback from last year’s event, as well as current happenings in the industry. The ultimate disruption to the way consumers purchase goods and services, IoT and Interactive technologies are in some respects pretty space age, but in the age of wearables and biometric technology, much more familiar to the most seasoned retailers who are increasingly interested in providing merchant customers with seamless technology experiences, that will allow both control and interaction with the touch of a finger, or, the installation of an app.
Tools To Dominate
Both resellers and the exhibitors they visited on the Show Floor were able to see opportunities through which they could dominate their respective marketplaces. For exhibitors, the access the show provides to resellers is unique. “The best part of the show is having all partners in one location to be able to chat and communicate about how we’ll work together,” said Amanda French of TD Bank.
Resellers, who are often put in the position to work in their business, instead of on it, the accessibility of vendor partners is extremely beneficial to their everyday work. “This [show] will keep me on the cutting edge of the industry, where I need to be to succeed in the POS environment that is always changing,” explained Rochin.
As APG Cash Drawer’s Ann Klein said, “[RetailNOW] is a great venue for staying connected. That’s what it’s all about.”