Retail: Solid Growth Opportunity for VARs in 2012
If “Black Friday” is an indication of how the retail industry is going to fare in 2012, we all have reason to be optimistic. According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), sales were up for both brick and mortar stores and online merchants. NRF President and CEO, Matthew Shay, said the results were a promising sign for the economic recovery.
“Cyber Monday” brought impressive sales results too. The truly interesting part for me was learning that this year, twice as many people used their Smartphone to research products or make purchases online compared to last year. So what do these results and trends mean for the retail industry and technology?
As recently as 15 years ago, the only mission-critical piece of technology facing a consumer that a retailer had to support was their point-of-sale terminal. Now, retailers are being pulled into mobile commerce, Web commerce, digital signage and business analytics because their customers expect more of them. The problem is that many retailers have not made the technology advances with their infrastructure or software applications to support their customers’ increasing expectations. For 2012, IDC listed retail as one of the top industries for making investments in social media, mobile, big data and business intelligence. Our conversations with Gartner also indicate retail spends in technology being up in 2012. Despite what happens with the economy, retailers will need to make these investments in technology to remain competitive.
With the NRF’s 101st annual convention and expo coming up in January of 2012, I started to think about some of the changes that have taken place in retail IT in recent years and the exciting opportunities ahead. For example, there’s Omni Channel. Defined as the process of creating a seamless approach to a consumer’s experience by making use of all possible shopping channels, it could be said that Omni Channel is what Point of Sale was 15 years ago. Omni Channel, plus the necessary data center and/or cloud technologies needed to market, process and manage today’s retail transactions are “must haves” for retailers for them to do business in 2012 and beyond. Keep in mind those “retail transactions” occur at stores of all kinds, from grocery chains to hardware, convenience stores, online merchants, big-box stores and more! Where there’s people and products, there’s technology.
If you’re planning to attend the 2012 NRF show, I invite you to stop by booth #359 and speak with Avnet’s retail IT market expert, Joe Delgado.
As we close out 2011, it’s time to think about your plans for the coming year. Growth-minded VARs looking to specialize in a vertical market should seriously consider retail. With more than $40 billion in IT sales and an ever-increasing reliance on technology, new retail customers can add significant profits to your business.
Michael Houghton is VP of vertical market solutions for Avnet Technology Solutions, Americas. Monthly guest blogs such as this one are part of The VAR Guy’s annual sponsorship. Read all of Houghton’s guest blogs here.
So what’s the best way to get started? At Avnet, we offer a roadmap to our partners for retail, based on our proven SolutionsPath® methodology. The Avnet RetailPath™ team can connect you to the resources, expertise and opportunities you need to address top customer needs among multi-channel retailers, including, customer channels, merchandising and product management, retail data management and infrastructure optimization. Also, we conduct regular vertical market training events for our partners, such as our upcoming RetailPath University. By partnering with Avnet, you’ll reach your goal of becoming a trusted advisor to new retail customers faster, and at a lower overall cost. That’s what I call a plan for a happy new year!
I wish you a wonderful holiday season and a prosperous 2012.