Despite endless articles reminding us that digital commerce continues to grow at double-digit rates, it’s clear to anyone working in the enterprise retail space that it’s increasingly competitive and technology solution providers are struggling to access merchants directly. For many software vendors this means that establishing integrations and partnerships with incumbents in the space has taken on increased significance, as it provides access to existing merchant relationships and new routes to market.
It is understandable in this brave new world of omni-channel retail that merchants are reluctant to engage directly with the plethora of new innovative technologies coming to market, and are giving greater airtime to solutions that are pre-integrated with their existing infrastructure as this helps de-risks the selection and implementation process.
Nowhere is the relevance of partnership more apparent than with commerce platforms. In the last 5 years we have seen massive merchant consolidation around the major commerce platforms such as Hybris, Oracle, Demandware, Magento and IBM. An entire eco-system of integrated partners has evolved around these platforms. The smart technology vendors have either put these integrations in place or have them on their roadmaps in order to access customers and markets where the most significant eCommerce investment is being made. By forming alliances with the major platform vendors it is possible to offer a simplified deployment process, which lessens the barrier to selection and offers the opportunity to position your technology against the relative strengths and weaknesses of the core platform technology being used by leading merchants.
However having these platform partnerships and integrations in place doesn’t necessarily equate to a sales strategy in itself, it merely keeps you in the race and gives you a seat at the table when the merchant is looking to implement third party solutions to solve specific business needs. Forming alliances with the integrators of the commerce platforms is key to success in developing your channel strategy, yet most vendors struggle to make it work. Here are four reasons why successfully partnering with system integrators is critical to your channel strategy:
They are the gatekeepers
System integrators are an important stakeholder in any decision relating to software integration with the merchant’s existing IT systems. If the system integrator isn’t onboard with the decision they can become a major obstacle to getting your software implemented.
They give you early visibility on opportunities
By the very nature of their business system integrators get early visibility on merchant’s requirements. They also continually get invited to respond to RFPs (Request for Proposal) when merchants are looking to make changes to their commerce technology stack. Getting visibility on this activity gives you access to highly qualified deals when the merchant is at a critical point of the purchase decision.
They can help your business scale faster
Building a direct sales team is hard; it’s difficult to find talented sales people, and they cost a lot of money… all of which makes it hard for a business to scale through direct sales. If you could build six meaningful partner relationships with system integrators that each yielded your business two projects per annum, that would generate 12 channel opportunities per annum…what impact would that have on your forecasts?
They give you reach
Many system integrators have international reach and have offices in multiple territories so establishing relationships with them domestically can provide the perfect beachhead for you when you decide to expand overseas.
At Validify we specialise in helping retail technology providers to redefine their value proposition and align it with system integrator and technology platform business drivers. If you would likely to here more about our channel enablement program or are looking to improve your channel strategy effectiveness then get in touch now.