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Ingram goes after retail

New division for POS and data capture equipment

Looking to touch base with a broader range of resellers, Ingram Micro has formed a new division to deliver Point of Sale (POS) and data capture equipment to the retail industry.

Ingram business manager, Linda Pifat, who is heading up the division, said it was part of a global strategy to invest into adjacent markets. The division will focus on retail POS equipment, such as barcode scanners, receipt printers and weighing units, as well as Automated ID and Data Capture (AIDC) products. They range from RFID chips, smartcards and access cards through to biometrics hardware.

The division currently employs three dedicated staff and will be supported by Ingram's sales team. It has signed six vendors to date: NCR, Cherry, Toshiba Tec, Datalogic, Printronics and MYOB Retail and Hospitality Management.

Additional vendors are expected to come on in July. Existing Ingram partners, SonicWall and DLink, will provide security, networking and mobility. Ingram is pitting itself against established POS players including Vantex, DH Technology, Wasp Systems and Goodsons. Pifat said Ingram was the only distributor offering solutions which covered transaction recording and back-end infrastructure. "These guys are only focused on POS and AIDC and don't do the end-to-end, including the network and security back-end," she said.

To help generate awareness and leads, the distributor has developed an Imrapt (Ingram Micro Retail AIDC and POS Technology) information portal primarily for end users. The site goes live on February 1. Features include a product catalogue sourced from the TechLink database; pre-packaged solutions from Ingram, such as asset management; a library of whitepapers from vendors and related industry association information. Content will be divided into two sections: POS and AIDC.

"There's no place for people setting up a new business to find all of the pieces," Pifat said. "Our aim is to wrap up all of the technology and information you need.

"We will be setting up different packages that users can subscribe to. These will include things like domain registration, available from NetRegistry, couriers, magazine subscriptions, business information, as well as Internet providers." While business startups were an obvious target,

Pifat said its offerings would also extend to existing retailers looking to advance their transaction technologies. "There are a lot of upgrade opportunities in the industry; cash register technology is still years behind," she claimed. "We'll take over a lot of the end-user touch that the vendors are now doing directly, including the large retailers."

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Pifat stressed Ingram would not be selling direct to end-users. All leads generated would be forwarded to registered Imrapt resellers. Among the site's features is a password-protected Reseller Community section, allowing partners to submit a company profile. Pifat said the distributor would also allow ISVs with specific vertical market solutions to register.

"Resellers will get the lead for the hardware, but they may not know how to do the software for various retail verticals. Hospitality for example, is very different to a newsagent," she said. "With the portal, they will be able to search for a provider by name or vertical."

Alongside the website, Ingram has created an Imrapt channel program offering leads, exclusive promotions and pricing, demo gear and pricing guarantees. There will also be a dedicated 1300 number and email. Ingram has also devised a reseller certification, based on practical training at GS1's Knowledge Centre.

Resellers can choose to gain globally recognised accreditations using GS1 Learn Web training, which will be available via TechLink. This incorporates five modules ranging from barcode technology to logistics. Alternatively, GS1 offers a full-day certification course.

"There are resellers out there who don't understand things like barcode technology, RFID, supply chain or logistics," she said. "The IT side stops at networking or security, but there are many resellers, like Alphawest, who have customers that they could become more involved with."

Pifat said Ingram would target its existing IT resellers and integrators as well as going after traditional POS players. She claimed there were about 2000 POS resellers operating in Australia.

Ingram signalled its intention to pursue the POS market with its acquisition of US retail distributor, Nimax, in 2004. This was followed by its purchase of SymTech Nordic last June. To emphasise its commitment to the retail space, Ingram has signed up with several industry organisations, including GS1 and the Australian Shopfitters Association. It also plans to work with the Australian Retailers' Association and RFID Association.

It will also run an Imrapt stand at Ingram's ExpoTech roadshow this year, as well as at CeBit.