Will the VARs Dissappear in the Digital Menu Board Business?



I have attended a huge number of trade shows and events the past several years related to digital signage and digital menu boards. At all these events almost all the display manufacturers and distributors make the statement “We always sell through resellers and never to end users, our resellers are important to us”. In the past I have known of a few cases where that simply was not true but recently I have learned that the last two major orders for digital menu board systems (Burger King and Dairy Queen) have gone directly to a major LCD display supplier with no resellers involved and a third major (Yum Brands) will go direct when and if they place an order. 

Does this mean the days of the VAR’s or resellers are gone? It happened in the hospitality market and now will it happen in the QSR Market? It sure looks to me like it has already happened. The fact that another of the largest and most respected display suppliers has recently hired a sales team to make direct sales calls on large QSR companies to better compete with the display supplier that has received the orders mentioned above is further evidence of this.

If the resellers are eliminated is that wrong? Since I am a reseller in those two major markets my opinion may be bias but I think it is a mistake. When the sales team for the display suppliers is off making other sales who will provide the ongoing service to the accounts they have sold? Can the display supplier do it? I believe that will be a problem.

I recently started a project of organizing a large group of qualified resellers to help them get trained to sell digital menu boards at a more competitive price and compete better with the large display supplier that received the major orders. When the display supplier learned of my plan they wielded all the political influence they could muster to kill my plan.

A typical reseller will normally buy where they can get the best deal because the competition is fierce. On large projects they must know who their major competition is. How good can you feel about the deal you are getting if you are getting prices from your strongest competitor? It may not be possible for individual resellers to compete in these markets but we can as a group.

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