Beware of tradeshow-ware

You work for a retail or hospitality group and have been tasked with finding a software solution. I’ll go straight to the point. Skip the tradeshow-ware and try before you buy.

What is “tradeshow-ware”?

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You have seen it, far too often unfortunately. Tradeshow-ware is software you see at retail and hospitality trade shows. It’s hard to miss. Smiley people are on the booth, and they are all wearing the same branded tee-shirt. They give away pens!

Unfortunately, you can’t really see this software, or touch it. You go to the website and don’t see pricing either. Sure, there is a pricing page, but it says, “Contact us”. At this point, you still don’t know what it does or how much it costs but you do have a pen…

You can’t use this software and can’t vet it until you contact the vendor. What it lacks in substance and details, tradeshow-ware makes up in promises. Vendors make promises, lots of promises.

🚀 Expert

This post is part of our Expert Content series. In highly competitive industries like retail and hospitality, it is critical to hit the ground running with flawless execution of programs and brand standards.
When issues are found, assign corrective actions to ensure they are resolved before they affect the guest experience, the brand’s reputation, and the bottom line.
Bonus tip
Effective retail and hospitality execution requires certain components, first communication, second task management, and third audits / assessments.

Why do some software vendors sell tradeshow-ware?

Some software companies haven’t in fact invested in “productizing” their offering. They have a codebase, sure, but to make that codebase work for you, they need to perform “integration” which means lengthy and costly consulting hours. Why can and Google Apps offer web-configurable products and yet some software vendors insist on billing for consulting work to do the same?

Hiding details is also an effective way of hiding the shortcomings of one’s software. Perhaps it’s hard to use or severely limited. After all, making promises and delivering value statements is a lot safer than incurring the scrutiny of users trying and vetting your product, in the field.

Another reason these vendors are successful is because, frankly, the approach has worked successfully in the past. This is how it works. Pick a trade show and purchase a big booth. Hand out goodies. Meet tons of well-intentioned people and make a lot of promises. Don’t actually show much. Next thing you know you’re selling software to well intentioned retailers who never looked elsewhere.

How to avoid tradeshow-ware

Judging a vendor by the size of its booth at a retail trade show is perhaps the worst “metric” you can use. Here is why.

While there is nothing wrong with trade shows per se, a trade show is hardly indicative of what a technology vendor, particularly a software vendor, is capable of. Bits and bytes and “tradeshow booth” go together like ketchup and peanut butter.

If your technology vendor can’t demonstrate they are nimble and quick-to-market, skip them.

If you can’t see and try a product in a matter of hours, move on.

If integration costs real money, it means the offering isn’t actually productized; keep looking.

If your technology vendor could do these things any other way, they would.

Buying from the tradeshow-ware vendor could mean you are buying the worst of the software lot, buyer beware.

What to look for when buying enterprise software

Expect to see relevant details on a vendor’s website.

OUT: Promises and value statements.
IN: Facts and details.

Expect to run a trial, at no charge, that reflects your own workflow, stores, and users.

OUT: “This pilot is going to take months to set up and cost money”.
IN: “The pilot is free, comes with support and starts as soon as you are ready”

Expect to pay an all-in fee for a service, not be bombarded by surcharges, maintenance contracts and more consulting hours.

OUT: Surprises.
IN: Predictability.

Is that too much to ask? Smart enterprise buyers don’t think so. Here are 6 easy steps to selecting site execution software.

Fabien Tiburce
CEO, Bindy

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