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Industry News - March 5th, 2010



RFID Market to Reach $5.35 Billion This Year

Despite the economic doldrums which required downward adjustments to ABI Research's RFID forecasts for 2009 and 2010, the outlook is good for steady growth through the next five years, according to new market data just released by the firm. 

Practice director Michael Liard reports: "We expect the overall RFID market to exceed $8.25 billion in 2014, or approximately $7.46 billion with automobile immobilization excluded. That would represent a 14% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) over the next five years."
(Automobile immobilization is the largest single RFID application and has a low growth rate which impacts overall market size, so it is often excluded when examining market trends.)

This year alone, the RFID market appears set to reach a size of $4.47 billion (without automobile immobilization), 15% more than the adjusted 2009 figure.

"Not all segments of the RFID market are created equal," adds Liard. "To 2014, the greatest growth will be found in RTLS (Real Time Location Systems), baggage handling, animal ID, and item-level tagging in fashion apparel and retail."

Other key opportunities include Electronic Vehicle Registration, continued penetration of RFID-enabled e-ID/e-government documents (including health cards), and continued expansion of library systems. Also worth watching: slowed but continued progress in retail CPG supply chain management, and multiple flavors of asset management that leverage RFID technologies, including specialty passive UHF tags.

"Modernizing" applications for RFID will grow more rapidly than their "traditional" predecessors such as access control, automobile immobilization, electronic toll collection and others that account for slightly more than 61% of the total market today. These applications are expected to grow 6% compounded annually from 2010 through 2014. In contrast, modernizing applications -- animal ID, asset management, baggage handling, cargo tracking and security, POS-contactless payment, RTLS, supply chain management, and ticketing – are forecast to grow roughly 19% in the same time period.


Tatung, Wire Spring Launch Digital Signage Bundle

Tatung Company of America has expanded its product offering by working with WireSpring, a provider of management software for digital signage applications. Tatung's newest product is the Enterprise Digital Signage Bundle now featuring FireCast software. 

"The Enterprise bundle is for multiple locations and includes all hardware, software and service support. We are making digital signage a practical, affordable, revenue generating, easy to implement, managed solution," says John Sherry, Tatung's National Accounts & Marketing Manager, United States and Canada.


Westcon's Virtual Lab Helps VARs Evaluate Real-Time Apps

Westcon Group has opened its virtual demonstration lab. This new resource enables customers around the world to test and evaluate hosted solutions in a virtualized network environment before making purchasing decisions. The laboratory, hosted adjacent to Westcon's facility in Montreal, Canada, provides resellers with the ability to test drive Application Delivery Networking (ADN) solutions in real-time and illustrate the value of F5 solutions.

Westcon resellers -- and by extension their customers -- can access the virtual demonstration lab through any high-speed Internet connection regardless of their geographic location. Accordingly, the lab dramatically reduces both the time and travel expenses typically associated with in-person demonstrations. Access to the demo lab is complimentary for all Westcon customers.

"Hands-on' testing is very important for our customers, and perhaps even more so as data centers are evolving," commented David Lesser, president and chief technology officer of Chicago-based Nexum, Inc. "Additionally, the ability for us to sell and support solutions across a wide geography is absolutely critical. Through its hosted virtual lab environment, Westcon is able to help us extend the value of F5 technology to our own customers and make the overall purchasing rationale that much more compelling."

Now through March 31, Westcon is offering a promotion in which resellers who conduct qualified demo sessions in the virtual demo lab can earn up to $500.


Tech Data, Sage Help VARs Build EHR Biz

Tech Data Corporation introduced its TechMed Vendor Affiliate Program, which will team producers of healthcare technology solutions with resellers supporting the IT needs of medical practitioners nationwide. The first TechMed Vendor Affiliate is Sage North America Healthcare Division, which supports more than 80,000 physicians across the country with medical software, including electronic health records (EHR), diagnostic imaging, billing, scheduling, mobility, claims submission and other practice-management solutions. TechMed Vendor Affiliates will be supported by Tech Data’s Healthcare Specialized Business Unit (SBU).

"Delivering effective IT solutions to the medical field requires a depth of industry knowledge most resellers do not yet have and that they can only acquire with a significant investment of time and resources," said Tech Data Vice President, Government, Healthcare and Technical Services Barb Miller. "Meanwhile, software developers like Sage are keenly aware of the processes and challenges involved with running a medical practice. Through the TechMed Vendor Affiliate Program, we are enabling resellers and vendors to partner and leverage each other’s expertise to quickly capitalize on the demand for healthcare IT."

The TechMed Vendor Affiliate Program will include software and hardware vendors designing solutions -- not yet readily available through distribution -- for specialized application in the healthcare market. Tech Data's reseller customers will partner directly with TechMed Vendor Affiliates to add these products to their healthcare solutions offering. TechMed Vendor Affiliate members will be on hand to introduce their products to resellers during Tech Data's Healthcare SBU sessions at June's Technology Solutions Tour in Las Vegas. They'll also have the opportunity to participate in other marketing and reseller recruitment activities throughout the year, including webinars, virtual tradeshows, podcasts, newsletters and inclusion on the TechMed Web Resource Center.


Kohl's Attracts 900,000 Facebook Fans

Kohl's announces a new in-store kiosk initiative, remodel plans at 85 stores and its new marketing program which has driven 900,000 Facebook fans.

Over the past year, Kohl's has tested in-store kiosks that provide customers an easy way to order an item that may be out-of-stock in size or color in that store. The customer also has the option to choose from an expanded assortment of items not available in store and the item is shipped free of charge. 

"The test was very successful and we're rolling out our in-store kiosk initiative to all stores by the beginning of fall 2010," says Kevin Mansell, Chairman, President and CEO, Kohl's. "We expect these to be another major driver of market share."

Kohl's also announced plans to remodel 85 stores in the spring season, an increase from the previously planned 65 stores and the 51 remodels in 2009.

Mansell continues, "We continue to invest in our future, by improving our businesses, business processes through technology, investing opportunistically in new stores and accelerating and improving our remodel strategy.

The retailer plans to increase investments in e-commerce and store experience infrastructure elements such as the kiosks strategy. 

"The efforts we put behind our marketing programs are resonating with our customers," says Mansell. "We see it in our research and from more than 900,000 Facebook fans. In addition to sharing their experiences with their friends and family, our Facebook fans communicate to us and to each other in real-time."

Mansell adds, "We continue to see high customer service scores as a result of merchandized content, inventory management and marketing initiatives as well as the efforts of our store teams to engage the customer and achieve the 7 percent improvement in our customer service scores in our stores over the last year." 


Merchant Warehouse Adds Droid, Windows Mobile Apps

Merchant Warehouse has announced two new mobile payment processing applications for MerchantWARE Mobile, a user-friendly, virtual payment processing application that provides small and large businesses with simple and secure card processing capabilities. The new applications are now available for the Google Android and Windows Mobile platforms -- joining the already available iPhone/iPod touch and Blackberry. 

The new applications are part of Merchant Warehouse's ongoing mobile strategy, which is to understand the needs of the growing micro-business segment, provide superior customer support and deliver secure, scalable and the lowest cost mobile payment solutions for all devices.
Businesses today save time and money with free applications, immediate payment approvals as well as the convenience of automatic email receipts. MerchantWARE Mobile applications are an ideal payment solution for any 'on-the-go' business that needs to accept credit card payments in real-time.

"We recognize that the mobile micro-business is growing and will be a driving force in our economy," said Henry Helgeson, co-CEO of Merchant Warehouse. "Our goal is to be ready with affordable, secure mobile payment applications for all devices. The addition of the Android and Windows Mobile applications brings us closer to that goal. Because Merchant Warehouse is self-reliant and does not depend on third parties for our gateway or support services, we are able to readily address the needs of the business customer and deliver better support and innovative solutions with the most flexibility. Delivering scalable, affordable and secure mobile applications for all businesses just makes sense for Merchant Warehouse."

As the technology emerges, evolves and gains traction in the market, MerchantWARE Mobile stays ahead of the pack, including secure compliant credit card processing applications and portable card readers used with the iPhone/iTouch, Blackberry, and now the Android and Windows Mobile to accommodate card swipes that allow merchants to avoid high-cost "card-not-present" fees. All credit card data (swiped or keyed) is securely transmitted and stored at Merchant Warehouse's secure data vault, not the mobile device so merchants and customers have peace of mind knowing their card data is safe.
The free applications require a Merchant Warehouse merchant account and all mobile applications, except the iPhone/iTouch, use a Bluetooth enabled card reader while the iPhone/iTouch use an easy to manage cradled card reader. With the addition of Windows Mobile and Android to the offerings, merchants can take part in the growing trend toward mobile payment processing with the ease and peace of mind that comes from partnering with a recognized industry leader and innovator such as Merchant Warehouse.


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