After successfully launching the Auto-ID side of the business in 2002, 2004 saw ScanSource Europe starting to put more focus on all things EPOS. ScanSource Europes parent company, ScanSource Inc., had found that there was a demand in the US EPOS market for a distributor with expertise in value-adds, so it was just a matter of time until this demand also existed in Europe. Furthermore, many of ScanSource Europes vendor partners are experts in EPOS as well as Auto-ID, offering products for both markets.
A combination of prime market conditions and vendor partner readiness are therefore enabling us to apply our true two-tier distribution model to the EPOS market.
Following our vendor partners, the organisation entered the first phase of EPOS investmentidentifying which dealers serve the retail marketplace, then working with them to recognise which products and services they want. It was then important to discover how best to enable those dealers to provide new solutions for their retail customers. Having the manufacturers support throughout the initial phase proved essential for many aspects of the development process. Today, the sales teams can offer technology from eighteen suppliers to reseller partners across Europe.
What is ScanSource Europe offering today? 2006 sees the introduction of the second phase of the EPOS investment program. In addition to a dedicated EPOS sales team and three business development managers, we are now, on top of our in-depth training on the Auto-ID side of the business, providing our sales teams with sound training to enable them to answer all kinds of EPOS questions. To support the sales force we now have pre- and post-sales technical staff. We also offer a robust catalogue, an email newsletter and joint marketing events dedicated to EPOS.
Financial services are available to allow reseller partners to fund the larger projects and to offer their customers leasing. Spreading the costs of a project over several years is enabling some exciting projects to be delivered far earlier than expected. The online tools that were launched during 2005 enhanced these offerings. Now our dealers can check stock availability, pricing, product information and even place orders on a 24/7 basis.
The other essential component is the Solution Partner Program (SPP), launched to enable dealers to promote their software, hardware and integration solutions to our European dealer base. We want to help our partners to develop their business-to-business relationships. The steadily growing number of solution partners is testament to this program.
So where will this take us and how will it impact the EPOS market? Our research shows that retailers and hospitality companies want to provide customers with an enjoyable experience. Not only does the cost of goods or service need to be right, it is also important to consider the environment, service and efficiency. Working with manufacturing leaders such as Epson and IBM we offer POS printers that not only provide a receipt but also colour printing which is linked with customer loyalty programs and item promotions. Touch screens are available which enable customers to find items or compare alternatives, in-store locations, and price lookup. Incorporating our wireless products allows easy cable-free solutions to be installed. POS systems can be based on a complete hardware solution such as the IBM POS systems to an individual scanner or printer. We strive to provide products that allow dealers the flexibility to mix and match to best suit their solution. This more open architecture approach has also won favour for those dealers wishing to supply upgrades and enhancements to existing systems. Our support programme allows the dealer to supply one system at proof of concept stage and still gain the same level of support as is expected at time of roll out.
Our discussions have identified the need for flexibility at the design and configuration stages as well as being able to offer more detailed advice on product compatibility. The ability to speed the delivery of product and applications to market is our goal. Combining the knowledge and support of the manufacturers with the expertise of our sales and support staff is gaining steady recognition with our dealers. Together this process is delivering a wide variety of IT products to the EPOS market.
Phil Boyd is director of partner services at ScanSource Europe. ScanSource Europe is committed to making it easier than ever for technology resellers to access the world's leading automatic data collection solutions more quickly and efficiently. As a division of ScanSource, Inc., the world's largest distributor of automatic data collection and point-of-sale equipment, ScanSource Europe offers you access to the region's largest inventory of best-of-breed technology from leading manufacturers.