Ingram Micro Expects EMV Adoption To Drive POS Business

Solution providers expect more point-of-sale (POS) business as new rules come into play next year surrounding the use of credit cards with security chips.

Jeff Yelton, Ingram Micro's general manager of data capture and POS business, said at the company's ONE event in Las Vegas that retailers will likely find themselves liable for any fraud activity as of October 2015 under the new rules if they aren't certified in handling cards with EMV (Europay, MasterCard and Visa) chips.

VARs and MSPs can cash in on everything from educating retailers on the transition to helping businesses become EMV-certified and selling companies PIN pads and other hardware that is EMV-compliant, Yelton said.

[Related: Ingram Micro Making Stronger Play In Retail, Finance Verticals]

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Implementing EMV in the United States is expected to cost $6 billion to $8 billion, Yelton said, but has cut fraud by 60 percent when it was implemented in Europe and Canada over the past decade. Most of the money spent on the transition should end up in the hands of solution providers, he said.

Yelton said channel partners conducting EMV-related business will be served by Ingram's new offerings in the retail vertical, which will be supported by a dedicated team of business, marketing, sales and technology experts. A portal, set to go live in winter 2014, will offer channel partners whitepapers and case studies on retail-related issues such as the EMV transition.

Over the next few years, omni-channel initiatives -- which, for instance, would allow customers to buy an item in a store and return it online, or vice versa -- are expected to drive business for solution providers in retail, Yelton said.

Ultimately, information gathered from smart devices such as a sensor on a cooler will allow retailers to make more informed decisions, but Yelton said the necessary data aggregation and analytics required will greatly increase the complexity of the IT operations, fueling market opportunities for the channel.

However, Yelton said channel partners specializing in a particular technology face the risk of missing changes in the business landscape, losing their stature in the market and ultimately forgoing clients to a VAR with a different specialty who read the market better. Most of Ingram's data capture and POS partners have specialized in the field for many years, he said.

Yelton encouraged solution providers to cultivate small incubator practices inside their businesses where they can familiarize themselves with developments in areas such as networking or Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). Putting a toe into new horizontal areas will allow partners to start a conversation and understand how implementation works without making a major investment.

POS partners could also make a play in the networking, data analytics and unified communications and collaboration (UCC) markets by leaning on Ingram's expertise.

Ingram looks to expand its offering in mobility, networking and SaaS offerings, Yelton said.

In mobility, solution providers need to decide whether they wish to continue to incur the overhead associated with remaining operating system-agnostic or incur the risk of picking the losing OS. Other challenges include soaring usage of wireless bandwidth in networking and re-architecting information for a cloud or mobile environment in SaaS.

Rodger Baldwin, executive account manager for Innovation First International of Greenville, Texas, said his company hasn't done much POS to date, but is willing to reconsider the matter.

"We're going to take a look at it," Baldwin said. "We are trying to expand the business farther than what we are now."

Other solution providers, such as Orlando-based iTech, plan to stay away from POS.

"We bite off a lot, but retail, we've stayed away from retail," said Daniel Stockman, president and COO of iTech.

"You end up starting to stretch yourself thin and you become a jack-of-all-trades and a master of none," Stockman said.

Sarah Kuranda contributed to this article