ScanSource Urges VARs To Focus On Verticals

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ScanSource is advising solution providers to sharpen their focus on emerging technologies for vertical markets, and is giving them the tools and assistance to do so.

The Greenville, S.C.-based distributor issued the message to 300 solution providers June 3 during the New York leg of its Solution City channel road show.
The event included demonstrations and presentations from 64 of ScanSource's hardware and software vendors in new technologies, including VoIP, RFID, mobile computing and wireless mobility. Booths also demonstrated how products from numerous vendors could be integrated for particular vertical markets such as health care, retail and manufacturing.

ScanSource's Dixon: VARs must develop credibility in a vertical market.

"A vertical market strategy focuses your energies on a specific type of customer," said ScanSource CTO Greg Dixon in a keynote address. "You can develop credibility in that sphere. Credibility is worth money."

The event was sponsored by ScanSource's three divisions-"ScanSource, which focuses on bar-code and POS solutions; Catalyst Telecom, which focuses on converged voice and data products; and Paracon, which focuses on other converged communications devices.

Solution providers at the event said they appreciated ScanSource's focus on new technologies for vertical markets and the chance to examine products up close.

"We're trying to break into the VoIP market, and I'm on overload today. There are a lot of companies here that know the back end and front end very well," said Michael Guida, network engineer at Livingston, N.J.-based solution provider EG Technology. "We have one client with seven locations over four counties in New Jersey. It's a long-distance call to reach someone in the same company, so VoIP is really appealing."

In particular, Guida said the event will help him and his customers get more of a handle on the technology.

"A lot of my customers hear Cisco [Systems] and VoIP and think, 'It's too big for us.' However, a lot of these products are designed specifically for the 300-
person firm," Guida said. "The technology is becoming a sooner-than-expected reality."

Sheldon Reich, vice president of marketing at Cybra, a Yonkers, N.Y.-based solution provider that specializes in warehousing solutions, said there is growing interest in both VoIP and RFID products.

"Voice over IP is a tremendous opportunity. Often we'll go in with the warehousing stuff and bring in VoIP as a useful technology," Reich said.

Cybra has developed RFID-tag printing software to help customers prepare for Wal-Mart's mandate requiring all shipping pallets bound for its stores to include RFID tags by Jan. 1, 2005. To use the tags, Cybra's customers need handheld RFID scanners, which several vendors, including IBM and Symbol Technologies, have announced but are not yet shipping. Reich was told by several vendors at the event that they are waiting for Federal Communications Commission approval of the technology before shipping products. Shipping may not begin until late this year, the vendors added, making it difficult for customers to hit the Jan. 1 deadline.

Solution providers and vendors also praised ScanSource and the training, marketing support and integration assistance it offers.

"Catalyst is awesome, very easy to deal with. All of their personnel are highly technical, not box-pushers," said Julie Tucker, Northeast territory sales manager at IP telephony vendor Verso Technologies, Atlanta.
ScanSource often brings in vendors to train its employees in selling and supporting their products, Tucker said.

During the event ScanSource also spotlighted its nascent Solution City Web Portal, which provides product and technical information. The site includes a partnering tool that helps solution providers locate vendors and solution provider peers to team with.

ScanSource's Solution City road show was launched in March in Anaheim, Calif., and is slated to stop in Chicago and Atlanta.

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