ScanSource Multivendor Shows Depict Real-World Solutions

When the Greenville, S.C.-based distributor launched its Solution City events in February 2004, they resembled a lot of other IT trade shows. But now the distributor’s quarterly events live up to their name, said vendor and solution provider executives.

Starting last year, ScanSource put more focus on multivendor-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 a 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.

Sponsored post

ScanSource hosts four Solution City events per year, including a show in New York on May 11, which more than 300 solution providers attended. Future events in 2006 are scheduled for Chicago on Aug. 10 and Toronto on Nov. 11.

“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, where about 60 multivendor solutions were demonstrated for convergence, manufacturing and distribution, retail, health-care, public sector and financial vertical markets, ScanSource said. The solutions were all integrated into a central backbone on the show floor too, executives said. The time ScanSource’s IT staff devotes to setting up the displays is shorter than the duration of the shows themselves.

Mike Noble, manager of Beltech Communications, a New York-based Avaya solution provider, said the multivendor-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. “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,” Morgan said.