From The Editor | September 16, 2013

Evaluating A New Vendor


By Mike Monocello & Hunter Allen

If you attended RetailNOW, have been reading Connect, or subscribe to various industry magazines, you know that the thought-leader consensus is that, to be most successful, you should stop thinking of yourself as just a POS dealer and begin thinking of yourself as a retail IT total solutions provider. What’s the difference? A POS dealer just sells POS terminals or ECRs. A total solutions provider looks at the entire retail operation and provides integrated solutions that solve business needs. Whew, that’s a mouthful. Put simply, consider selling things like digital signage, video surveillance, loyalty, mobile POS, and so on. Think beyond simply the point of sale. Doing so will enable you to provide your customers with solutions that address a variety of their needs while padding your pocketbook. And, in many cases, if you don’t sell those complementary technologies, you’re leaving the door open for someone else to (and then what happens when they win over your customer and take your piece of the pie away?)

Let’s not let that happen! In the coming months in the pages of Connect, you’ll read articles focused on technologies you should strategically consider adding to your line card. Great, but what if it’s been a while since you’ve gone through the process of adding a new vendor/product to your portfolio? We’ve assembled a handy checklist of things to consider when doing your evaluations. As you use run a vendor down this checklist, your overall goal is to determine what it takes to go from 0-60 and how the vendor will help you in the process.

1. Training

  • Do they offer training?
  • Is it via webinar or in a classroom?
  • What is the cost?
  • Will they come to my office or do I need to travel to them for training?

2. Upfront investment

  • Will they provide demo units? At what cost?
  • Is there a dealer fee?

3. Sales & Marketing Support

  • What marketing services does the vendor offer?
  • Can leads be expected?
  • Is the vendor able to assist on sales appointments?

4. Technical Support

  • How much does support cost?
  • Is support for dealers, the end users, or both?
  • Is support 24/7?
  • What are the turnaround times for repairs?
  • Are repairs stateside?

5. Margins

  • How much money can I realistically make?
  • What do the partner program tiers look like?

6. Channel program

  • What channel conflict can be expected?
  • Does the vendor also sell direct?
  • How many dealers are already in your region for this vendor?
  • Do my current distributor partners carry the vendor?

7. Awards & Accolades

  • Has the vendor received any relevant awards?
  • Can I speak with an existing reseller to get their opinions of working with you?

All of these things considered, remember that the best vendor is really a partner. They understand that success is mutual. If your success isn’t a concern of theirs, perhaps it’s time to evaluate the next vendor in line.