E ven through a global pandemic, Elie Y. Katz never lost faith in his baby: National Retail Solutions (NRS). This wholly owned subsidiary of communications and payment-services company IDT provides advanced point-of-sale (POS) systems and NRS Pay credit-card processing for small, independent businesses such as grocery, convenience, liquor, tobacco and gas station c-stores. Through its nationwide, terminal-based POS platform, NRS offers retailers affordable, powerful POS and payment acceptance technology to help their businesses. The POS includes a user-friendly, interactive merchant touchscreen and customer-facing display, with a cash drawer, barcode scanner and thermal receipt printer. Service includes propri- etary software for inventory, sales, user tracking and remote store management, among other Premium Feature options. “I started National Retail Solutions about six years ago,” said Katz, “with the basic principle of giving smaller, mom-’n’- pop, independent stores the tools that they need to compete and succeed in an ever-growing, competitive market.” Katz, who is uber-focused on this aim, identified a need after seeing smaller stores struggle against the larger chains, online retailers and quasi- convenience stores. “How does one compete against all of this?” Katz asked. “Now they can because we provide the technology to do so.” Today, NRS claims the top spot for convenience store point-of-sale hardware in the U.S., as well as a top position amongst liquor store systems. The company’s POS network has expanded to thousands of locations, with further plans to reach into Canada and the U.S. terri- tories over time. The firm also offers a comprehensive set of other products for the brick-and-mortar retail environ- ment, including NRS Pay credit-card processing, services to bring one’s physical store online, payroll services (under development) and a new networked panic-button alarm (current- ly available in N.Y. State and soon expanding to other states) that is linked within the point-of-sale hardware. “It’s being launched in New York first because it requires an alarm system to be integrated in the background,” noted Katz. “If someone comes in and holds up my store, I can just push the button to open up the drawer, and, because of the way I pushed the button, a silent alarm goes to the local police department.” While NRS integrates these and other features into its designs, with the struggling small business in mind, even a visionary such as Katz could never have foreseen COVID-19 or its unexpected results. “The first few weeks the pandemic happened, it was bad. We lost a thousand stores. Literally close to a thousand units went offline,” he recalled. “By the third week, though, they started turning back on. Then, by the fourth, fifth week, what happened was that the brick-and-mortars, especially in the independent conve- nience store space, became massive. I started to ask myself: Where do people want to shop? They want places that are small and convenient, that let you run in and run out. Where there aren’t a lot of people. COVID actually made these stores – our target custom- ers – great places to get what you need. They became a haven,” he said. With this unexpected opportunity, NRS has found success at a time when so many others struggle just to stay afloat. And now that National Retail Solutions has proven its ability to make money, Katz believes the opportunity can be there for new reseller channels and referral partnerships, as well. “We need people that have channels,” said Katz, asserting his belief that there are great benefits for the verticals with which one’s channels can generate revenue. “Whether they’re a salesforce of one or 100, this is an opportunity for them to join a team that’s constantly evolving and changing. And we come at the backing of a publicly traded company. So, whether you’re a merchant or a distrib- utor, you can feel confident that you’re not getting ripped off.” Whether a potential NRS partner is involved in the telecom space or some other area, Katz believes that the companies can work together to overcome obstacles and offer solutions. “Some people are in the telecom space, but it’s challenging,” Katz noted. “Maybe they want to pivot. Maybe they want to add. Maybe we can be comple- mentary. If they’re doing telecom, straight to B2B, that’s who we are. “That,” Katz concluded, “is our sweet spot.” o PROFILE NRS Provides Hardware, Software to Help Smaller Stores Succeed By Brady Hicks BUYERS SIDE 82 CHANNEL V ISION | Fall 2021