This year’s RetailNOW Conference drew a record number of attendees and exhibitors for a third year, showing consistent growth potential among resellers, VARS, distributors, and hardware manufacturers who have developed a keen interest in emerging trends such as mobile, PCI, and social media marketing. The event, hosted by the Retail Solutions Providers Association (RSPA), was held July 24 to 27 at Walt Disney World’s Swan and Dolphin Resort in Orlando, Florida.
With solution providers, hardware companies and resellers in attendance from eight different countries and an array of markets, attendance was up 8% over last year, according to an association press release. The conference also featured 134 exhibitors, another record-high for the event.
“Once again, RetailNOW brought together the best of the retail technology industry,” said Joseph Finizio, President and CEO of RSPA. “Reseller attendees were at an all-time high and our industry focused education sessions provided attendees with outstanding business, technology and customer specific information. This is exactly what RSPA should be doing for our members and industry.”
The four-day conference featured over 22 educational sessions featuring hot topics including Near Field Communications (NFC), location-based marketing, and the growth of mobile and tablet adoption, which received optimal attendee response, according to Finizio.
“Reseller members are discovering the power of marketing their companies, products and services,” he said. “They are finding that traditional means on marketing, while good, are not providing the desired results and they need to use new social media marketing tools.”
Four panel discussions and Q&A sessions covering vital concepts in IT, management and marketing also took place. The segments featured industry leaders and top executives from companies including BlueStar, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Ingram Micro, NCR, ScanSource, IHL Services, pcAmerica, Radiant, Epson and StoreNext.
“With all of the new technologies and business models coming to market — mobile, tablet, the cloud, SaaS — there is an intense need for industry specific information for both businesses and individuals in our industry,” Finizio told Channel Marketer Report. “The educational sessions at RetailNOW help the channel address these issues and opportunities by providing a more business and professional approach to the market.”
To recognize innovators and examples of excellence within the retail channel, the RSPA held its annual awards banquet on Tuesday, July 26. Categories for the ceremony dinner included the RSPA Awards of Excellence and the RSPA/VSR Innovative Solution Awards.
Industry dealers chose winning vendors for the Awards of Excellence. RSPA resellers also could vote on best hardware provider, application software provider, distributors, consumables, electronic payment provider, and reseller/customer support services.
RSPA/VSR Innovative Solution Award winners were recognized for achievements in developing innovative multi-vendor solutions for SMBs. The awards were open to any retail technology reseller that provided solutions in the following markets: fine dining, quick service, specialty retail, credit/processing, supermarket, in-store consumer touch points, and best ISV/VAR collaboration category.
Winners of the 2011 RetailNOW Awards include:
Category: Customer Support
Bronze: Quality Retail Systems, Inc.
Silver: Vertical Systems Reseller
Gold: Business Solutions Magazine
Category: Payment Processors
Bronze: Merchant Link
Silver: Datacap Systems, Inc.
Gold: Mercury Payment Systems
Bronze: Bushnell Ribbon Corporation
Silver: California Ribbon & Carbon Co., Inc.
Gold: Ritemade Paper Converters
Silver: Future POS
Gold: MICROS Systems
Silver: APG Cash Drawer
Category: Gold Medallion
Winner: Mercury Payment Systems
Innovative Solution Awards:
Family/Fine Dining: Agilysys
In-Store Customer Touch Points: Mikal
Quick Service: BCR Point of Sale
Specialty Retail: Shopkeep.com
ISV/VAR Collaboration: Dakota Retail Technologies and Future POS
Supermarket: North Country Business Products
Best of the Best: Shopkeep.com
Overall, RSPA membership has increased 85% since January 2007, according to Finizio, and this year’s awards dinner also reached peak attendance.