There have always been two kinds of people (like us) supporting QuickBooks Point-of-sale, Point-of-sale certified ProAdvisors (QBPA-POS) and Intuit Reseller Program (IRP) members. While the IRP Program is more about ‘sales’ than support, the most successful of these IRPs have built practices around not only selling the software and related merchant-services, but in also providing installation, configuration, and on-going maintenance. On the other hand, many other IRP members seemed to ‘just make the sale’ and then either let the client fend for themselves in getting the product up and going, or turn the client over to some local QBPA-POS who understood and supported the product. I for one, come from a background of the later, I don’t sell the software, but I seem to always get called when there is almost ‘any’ issue during installation, use or at year-end (if not somewhere in-between).
With this background in place let’s look at what seems to be the role of both IRPs and ProAdvisors in regard to Intuit’s new On-line iPad centered Point-of-Sale offering “powered by Revel POS”, which will integrate with QuickBooks Online. This is essentially an Intuit Branded version of Revel’s iPad POS product with one big change, it is designed to work ‘only’ with Intuit Merchant Services for purposes of credit/debit/gift-card transactions. Based on this fact Intuit is ‘tying the hands’ of their IRP members, especially in cases where a potential client cannot be extended merchant service rates equal to or less than some other alternative.
While the new Cloud-based POS will offer a variety of functions and feature upgrades that can’t be found in the ‘desktop’ Point-of-Sale product Intuit will continue to offer (for the time being at least), like functionality aimed at the food and entertainment industries as well as traditional retail. In fact the core product offers a wealth of capabilities that the existing QB-POS simply cannot come close to, or ignores. In fact, when you couple the new solution with their hardware options and iPad capabilities, this is a great addition to the product line for Intuit, but I don’t know about Intuit’s IRP and ProAdvisor partners.
The fact that this new solution is more like QBO (QuickBooks Online) than QBD (desktop versions of QuickBooks) means that the ability of either IRP members or QB-POS ProAdvisors to be involved in a long-term relationship with clients will be minimal. We will have about as many opportunities to help one of these new Cloud-POS clients when a real problem exists as we do when a real problem exists with QBO. Let’s face it, all ‘cloud-based systems’ despite claims of being ‘more open and transparent’ than ever, are far from such descriptions. The data and program design are locked down tighter than a drum, making them inaccessible to IRP members and/or QB-POS ProAdvisors. In fact, Intuit hasn’t even advised ProAdvisors formally that they will have any avenue of support for this new product. It seems far more likely that Intuit and Revel will offer some kind of ‘tag-team’ approach for support. “Will QB ProAdvisors even be eligible to receive training on this new product in order to promote and install the product?”
The funny thing is that the new POS System will in many ways be more hardware and IT-related in terms of 'networking the in-store components' intensive than the existing QBPOS Desktop application. There will be Apps to install and configure on the iPads, and then hardware to connect via docking stations and/or bluetooth. The new POS will offer more and varied hardware options than the current QBPOS, and of course there will be new or expanded 'wireless networks' to establish, whereas the typical ProAdvisor has done their best to always discourage wireless networks of any kind as they related to either QBPOS or QuickBooks. All of this means there should be more opportunities for 'support' of the new product by ProAdvisors, but with the built-in support mechanisms and the focus on Intuit Direct and IRP Sales, those ProAdvisor opportunities may simply dry up.
It appears that Intuit Direct Sales will have the first opportunity to make sales of this new product; and IRP members will have the ‘2nd opportunity’ to make sales of this new ‘cloud POS solution’ especially if a client wants a local demo, but in either case the focus seems to really be ‘getting the client into an Intuit Merchant Service Account.’ ProAdvisors, even those with existing POS certification are not likely to get many of these sales unless they go out and 'market the product' to merchants direct.
Another question that clearly pops-up is what happens if a if client who has chose the path of this new product ‘refuses’ Intuit Merchant Services? It seems that the client may be able to pay an additional fee (we have heard ‘several hundred dollars’ being bantered about) to unlock credit-card processing in the Intuit version so that the product will then support an alternative Merchant Service provider. In that case what really makes the Intuit product any different than the core Revel product already on the market?
While Revel already has a ‘reseller’ program of their own, and they will also continue to market the iPad POS System outside of the Intuit Ecosystem, I guess the question is “will Revel sign-up Intuit Resellers and/or ProAdvisors into their own reseller program so that IRP and QB-POS ProAdvisors can work directly with Revel?” Preliminarily the answers appears to be 'No', although there might be a referral partner program available. Of course a 2nd question must then be, “will the non-Intuit versions of Revel’s product remain capable of integration with QuickBooks as they are currently?” These are questions that I don’t believe anyone is fully able to answer at this time.
Finally, we come to the last question everyone is pondering over. As with the question, will QB Online finally put QB Desktop versions out of business, the same maybe asked regarding QBPOS (Desktop); “will the new ‘powered by Revel’ solution eventually ‘do away’ with the desktop POS product?” It is apparent that Intuit will continue to support the existing ‘newer’ versions of QBPOS-Desktop, and in fact may offer a newer version in the future, but how long before they abandon the ‘old technology’ and ‘confused platform’ that we know, and our retails clients have a permanent love-hate relationship with?
As with big insurance company actuaries locked away in the basement of buildings behind thousands of numbers generate the answer to complex morbidity questions, so too do I believe we would find the one and only person in all of “Intuit-land” that can give us that magic answer similarly locked away. Now if we could only find the building with that basement, we might free both 'the person' and 'the answer' to our questions!
Editor's note: Special thanks to William "Will" English, POS Guru for taking the time to review a draft of this article, make comments and suggestions, and provide additional details prior to publication.