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By Harry Brelsford

In the traditional IT industry, there is an ongoing debate about the fate of value-added resellers. As the title implies, VARs were historically a technology reseller who added value with business advice.

The current thinking is that the traditional VAR has disappeared because many “resellers” do not add significant value, while many IT service providers no longer sell product.

One person who carries on the traditional role of a VAR is point-of-sale expert Randy Roe at Seattle-based Retail Technology Services. I’ve known Randy for more than 15 years in the Seattle technology community and I’m happy to bestow the title Super VAR upon him. Why? Because Randy resells products and solutions into cannabis dispensaries and also consults clients.

I caught up with Randy recently and talked about his philosophy of taking time to understand the mission of each business he works with and his process of recommending technology that delivers the outcomes being sought.

Harry Brelsford: What wakes you up in the morning?

 Randy Roe: I like people and I like technology. Once the fun ends, it’s time to go.

HB: How did you get started in cannabis retail technology?

 RR: Being located in Seattle, right after cannabis was legalized for adult use in 2012, a dispensary owner came knocking on my door. My first dispensary client took a gamble on me. It was all so new to everyone. And I’ve grown steadily since then.

HB: How else have you served your cannabis clients?

RR: I joined one of my dispensary clients as director of purchasing. The gig started in a simple fashion: they offered to give me money to hang out and see what happens. I helped implement the rules of the game, such as standard operating procedures, cash management and “Retail 101” by preventing the brand damage that occurs when you run out of inventory. I was responsible for purchasing $250,000 of cannabis per month.

 HB: How do you add value?

RR: Cannabis retailers need help. Cannabis retailers have a natural level of dysfunction. Many, if not most, cannabis dispensaries are run poorly. The secret sauce is where technology comes in. Once the consumer finds what they like, they want to go back and buy it again. So that speaks to the importance of technology-based inventory management. The customer will continue to come to your store and not your competitors’ if you keep their favorite brands in inventory. I also automate your workflows that drive positive customer experience outcomes. Next, I consider myself a traceability expert so I bring that business technology capability to the table. Finally, I provide essential technical services for retailers (in other industries too).