VARTECH 2016 kicked off today in Atlantis, Paradise Island, Bahamas (yes, you read the correctly). However, before you think that this event is nothing more than an excuse to sit by a pool and drink fruity cocktails, you should know that there’s serious business going on here. Apart from the top-notch education, numerous breakout sessions, and impressive show floor named CodeZone, BlueStar has brought most of its key staff along to interact with its VAR and ISV partners. I had an opportunity to sit with a handful of departmental leaders to get a first-hand account of the trends BlueStar is seeing, as well as how the value-added distributor is dealing with those trends.
Emily Wright, mobility and emerging market sales manager had a lot of great information to share about one of BlueStar’s biggest announcements in recent history — the launch of its key injection facility at its Hebron, KY headquarters. Prior to this launch, orders that included payment terminals required additional steps (and time) to get the proper keys injected into the devices. Wright says having its own facilities will help BlueStar faster address payment orders by handling key injection on site. OTA updates and provisioning can also be done through BlueStar, future-proofing new terminals going out the door.
Additionally, the company will be able to provide additional turnkey payments solutions from more payment companies, giving VARs and ISVs more choices when putting together a payment solution. This is particularly important when you consider the rise of EMV and number of terminals that need to be placed in the market, as well as the increasing desire for payment solutions in mPOS applications.
Since Business Solutions has been writing about the –as-a-Service model, one of the biggest obstacles of Hardware-as-a-Service has been the initial cash outlay. Under the traditional sales model, each party (the vendor, distributor, and VAR) were used to getting paid up front, and there was some question as to who should — and could — be the party to offer the products for a monthly fee. Today, BlueStar has an answer.
Another big announcement here at VARTECH is that the distributor has created a program that allows any of its solutions to be built into a bundle and sold via the –as-a-Service model. This will be appealing to progressive VARs looking to change their business model to more recurring revenue, as well as the ISOs now interested in selling POS equipment. These ISOs are used to recurring revenue, so having a compensation model aligned with their needs is a smart move by BlueStar.
While much of the mPOS focus has been put on retail, Wright says hospitality and entertainment (theaters) have also been feeling the pressure from changing trends. “Everyone talks about how Amazon is killing local retail, but what about Amazon Prime and its effect on entertainment?” she asks. “Theaters and entertainment venues are feeling the pain.” Theaters and entertainment venues can benefit greatly from mPOS solutions that positive impact the customer experience — something you can’t get at home. While there is a learning curve, Wright says BlueStar has built relationships with hardware vendors and ISVs and can walk VARs through the process of winning business in this growing market.
The Cloud Transition
Talking to customers about the mPOS in the cloud typically involves two aspects — how can it hurt them (security-wise) and how can it help. Wright says BlueStar has education and programs to address securing data in the cloud. On the side of helping customers, the distributor has brought in a handful of cloud analytics companies to bring Big Data analytics to the VARs. “If you have questions or concerns about the cloud, ask your BlueStar representative who can bring together the right parties to help you build a best-in-class cloud solution,” says Wright.
In closing, I asked Wright what opportunities its VARs are overlooking today. “They aren’t taking full advantage of our services,” she quickly says. “Our configuration services can expedite a roll-out and make things go way smoother. We also have installation services if they don’t have enough feet on the street or don’t think they have the capabilities to win a job.” The bottom line is that BlueStar’s services can extend a VAR’s capabilities to help them win jobs they otherwise wouldn’t or to add installation and configuration support when needed.
While you might think that your technicians are the best, BlueStar has access to some of the best in the industry. “Once we get our services team working for a VAR and the VAR sees what we can do, they come back to us time and time again,” concludes Wright.