There is a huge, untapped market for bar code labeling software, according to Mike Strand, president and CEO of StrandWare, Inc. (Eau Claire, WI). StrandWare is a privately owned software development company with 30 employees. Its products are used in government, manufacturing, laboratories, and food processing applications. The company also has an office in the Netherlands.
"Manufacturing, distribution, and healthcare are growing markets that are harder for smaller VARs to tap," says Strand. "Combining labeling with a tracking application gives smaller VARs an edge in these markets." Strand cites the Texas prison system as one example. "One VAR combined a prepackaged labeling/tracking program with a tracking application that he had developed for the prison's mandated exercise programs."
Strand suggests that VARs focus on one industry. "Learn the industry and its terminology," says Strand. "The government, for example, uses the term ‘inventory' tracking instead of ‘asset' tracking. Using appropriate industry terminology can be critical to making the sale." Strand also cautions VARs to use their time wisely. "Don't give away your time to make a sale. If you lose a bid as a result, go for another customer and another bid," he advises.
Profit From Solution Selling
"If you are only selling products, you will quickly be out of business," says Andy Matter, vice president, alliance and business development for Teklynx International (Milwaukee). Teklynx is a global publisher of automatic identification and data collection (AIDC) software. "Concentrate on solution selling instead," advises Matter. "Have the necessary support for your product set. The greatest mistake a VAR can make is selling what end users want versus what they need." The markets are changing, he adds. "Patient ID was big five to seven years ago. Now, supply chain management for healthcare seems to be growing," says Matter. "It's an example of applying similar technology to an existing industry."
He also suggests VARs watch other industries other than AIDC for a "ripple effect." "The most obvious is ERP (enterprise resource planning)," says Matter. "The need for compliance labeling is also increasing, requiring a wider range of output types. For example, RFID (radio frequency identification) will combine with labeling to create a superior Auto ID solution. Platform changes mean meeting multiplatform requirements. Integration standards are being developed to enable software products to interface with each other."
Is Bar Code Labeling Software Becoming A Commodity?
Strand predicts the Internet will also impact bar code labeling software. "Software will need to communicate with printers around the world," says Strand. "The marketing distribution of software will change, as well. You may see more software developers sell direct to end users. There are ways to deliver the software that will keep VARs in the mix." As for the product, Strand says bar code labeling software is mature. "You can't add many new features. One trend some VARs are moving toward is to make money with technical support or integration of services." Matter agrees. "As bar code labeling software publishers continue to provide more features for the same price, VARs must focus on alternative methods for the enhancement of software features. The absolute goal is to increase the value the VAR brings to the end user."