ScanSource Goes Vertical For Solution City Shows

Starting last year, ScanSource put more focus on multi-vendor solutions booths than individual vendor booths, a format that allows solution providers to see the products in real-world scenarios.

The results have been dramatic, said ScanSource executives.

“The whole event is solutions. In the past, we had solutions but it was half vendor booths. We have a handful of vendor booths out there, but you have to play part in a solution. That’s what the resellers came to see. They didn’t come to visit individual vendor booths” said Bobby McLain, vice president of marketing at ScanSource.

ScanSource hosts four Solution City events per year, including Thursday’s New York show, where more than 300 solution providers attended. Future events in 2006 are schedule for Chicago Aug. 10 and Toronto Nov. 11.

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“If you want to see the four or five vendors that make up an RFID solution, you can see that. Voice, data, video on the same network? We have that. If you want to meet the multiple vendors that make up a solution for supply chain and warehouse automation, we have that. Health care is another,” said Mark Morgan, vice president of sales at ScanSource. “We also give them the opportunity to meet our ISV partners and other resellers to grow their business with.”

Nearly 80 vendors participated in the New York show, according to ScanSource, and there were about 60 multi-vendor solutions demonstrated in convergence, manufacturing and distribution, retail, healthcare, public sector and finance vertical markets. The solutions are all integrated into a central backbone on the show floor too, executives said. ScanSource’s IT staff spends more time setting up the displays than the show floor is open to visitors.

Mike Noble, manager of Beltech Communications, a New York-based Avaya solution provider, said the multi-vendor solutions format of Solution City is unique. “There are a number of Avaya booths with different products being shown. I like the fact that other people share their booth. It’s a good idea,” Noble said. “I had a number of questions answered and I got to see Avaya’s new Quick Edition [Intelligent Communications for Small Businesses]. That was worth the trip itself.”

Vendors also like the idea of showcasing their products in real-world solutions. Ruben Delgado, a senior sales engineer at New West Technologies, an ISV of retail point of sale solutions, shared a Mobile POS booth with Epson, Intermec and Symbol Technologies.

“It puts [the application] into context for people. I’ve had one vendor tell me their machine is just a paperweight without our application to go with it. We feel the same way,” Delgado said. “We can take the hardware and show how [our applications] are used in the real world.”

This year, solution providers could register to bring end user customers or prospects to demonstrate the solutions, Morgan said.

“One of the things we hold true is that we don’t sell to end users. But customers were asking about bringing their end users. We dragged our feet for a while. We wouldn’t do it. We agonized over it,” McLain said.

About 30 end users were registered and escorted by solution providers at the New York show, Morgan said. “Absolutely it brings [more deal closures], but I don’t have the numbers,” Morgan said. “From an end user’s perspective, a lot of these specialty technology products are not the easiest things to demo. [Solution providers] can bring an end user say to our RFID lab in Memphis, or they can come here and see a software application married to multiple hardware applications. The same thing with security. A lot of retailers want to marry security with point of sale solutions. You can see cash drawers, receipt printers and touch screens anywhere, but a lot of people don’t have the opportunity to see that hardware and software with [a security solution].”