Category Archives: Retail

Are Thieves Cashing in on Your Retail Plastic?

“Recyclers motivated by green—as in money—have been stealing plastic pallets, trays and crates from retailers and selling them to plastic recyclers,” reports NRF® Stores® magazine.

Perhaps now’s a good time for retailers to think about implementing radio frequency identification (RFID) technology for container management. RFID smart labels applied to moveable assets such as returnable pallets, racks, trays and bins can help you keep track of their location, reducing loss and lowering operating expenses.

Read the full Stores article.

Learn more about RFID capabilities here, where you can find resources like this asset tracking white paper and this brand-new RFID solutions brochure.

Store Re-Prices Products in Seconds with In-Aisle Mobile Printing

The Bargain! Shop, a major Canadian-owned retail chain with over 250 stores, consistently meets its customer demands by offering brand-name products at the guaranteed lowest prices. That means it must constantly evaluate and change pricing in order to remain competitive.

With inventory changing weekly, The Bargain! Shop needed a flexible pricing strategy. Previously, store clerks consulted the service desk for prices, and then selected from pre-printed shelf labels. Those labels only included a price without a product description, which often confused customers about which items corresponded with which shelf prices.

Plus, the approach was inefficient for clerks, who had to spend time verifying pricing and checking inventory.

In-aisle shelf labeling-Zebra QL 320The retailer sought a better way to manage pricing and stock visibility by integrating management software with mobile computing and printing operations like Zebra mobile printers.

In-aisle printing with mobile technology enhanced pricing accuracy, ensuring customers would see and pay the correct prices. It also made re-pricing much faster than before—typically in just a few seconds per product—so marking down products for major sales decreased from four hours to two hours.

Click here to learn how the retailer:

  • Reduced price marking costs by 25 to 40 percent.
  • Freed clerks’ time to focus on store appearance and customer service.

For more information on in-aisle mark downs, go here.

Workforce Management and Employee Kiosks: Perfect Partners

Aberdeen Group has released a Research Brief that further explores its December 2009 findings that 56 percent of Best-in-Class retailers are integrating their store-level workforce management processes.

The Research Brief shows that retailers using an integrated store-level workforce strategy that includes scheduling, time and attendance, and other human resource management technologies are much better able to respond to pressure to control labor costs, improve workforce productivity, and provide the customer with a seamless in-store shopping experience. Eighty percent of the above 56 percent, for instance, have increased same-store sales and 46 percent have raised customer retention rates.

Self-service kiosks can help streamline such integration by offering a convenient and effective interface between employees, an automated workforce management system and managers. For example, we wrote about one retail chain that found that after rolling out employee-facing kiosks as part of its labor management update, store managers spend 75 percent less time scheduling employees, and they can ensure the optimum number of customer-facing associates are on the floor.

Read more about how the chain benefited by employing self-service for employees. See white papers and other resources about kiosks and kiosk printing here.

As you face changing consumer demands and the pressure to deliver customer-centric service, is your store moving towards integrated workforce management? Do you see a place for kiosks in your workforce management processes?

RFID Growing Too Big for Its Britches?

RFID Growth Spurt Leads to Tech Shortages.

We’ve been talking about the growth and ROI benefits of item-level RFID, particularly in retail.

Supply Chain Digest reports that WalMart’s new apparel tagging program has helped lead to a supply drop in RFID EPC Gen 2 inlays, and that mobile RFID readers are now also in short supply. Why so? Lots of investment in RFID initiatives, including WalMart’s recent order for 20,000 Motorola mobile RFID readers, combined with “supply constraints that have lasted for months in basic electrical components that have cause delivery problems in a wide number of high tech gear, including mobile devices.”

In fact, Supply Chain Digest says that analysts at a major financial investment firm are predicting 300 percent market growth in RFID asset management for 2011.

Do you expect to join that growth, and invest in RFID for asset management and inventory visibility in the next year?

Read the Supply Chain Digest article.

See more about RFID printing/encoding here, where you can find resources such as our white paper “Traceability in Retail—Reducing RFID Media Costs for Best Value.”

If a Four-Store Retailer Can Profit from Item-Level RFID, Couldn’t You?

Item-Level RFID ROI a Shoe-in for Florida Retailer

Giants like Wal-Mart aren’t the only retailers using item-level RFID to improve inventory accuracy and reduce inventory-related labor costs. An article in RFIDJournal.com explains how “Florida shoe retailer Peltz Shoes has saved approximately 1,500 man-hours in the past year by applying a passive RFID tag to every box containing a pair of shoes at each of its four stores.”

Just so happens the store is using RFID printers from Zebra Technologies to encode the RFID labels and print each with a price, description and bar code. 

Check out the article.

What do you think—do you foresee your own stores implementing item-level RFID anytime soon? Do you think you could achieve the level of return on investment Peltz Shoes has?

For more about item-level tagging benefits, read this white paper. The paper also explores how “on-pitch” RFID printing and encoding technology can ensure data encoding accuracy while helping to improve ROI by reducing the cost of RFID label media by as much as 10 percent.

Discover more about RFID printing/encoding and Zebra RFID printer/encoders.

Dinner Date with Handhelds and Printers

Handheld terminals may look cool in restaurants but a recent article in Hospitality Technology magazine asks if they really provide any value. Restaurants, like any business are always on the lookout for operational improvements. Usually this in the food preparation area. You can see the whole article here.

The goal of improving both profitability and customer loyalty is always a driving force behind any change in a restaurant so new technology is no different. Brian Vick, Owner of Brian’s Cheesesteaks took a look at tableside handheld terminals a few years ago with the aim of overall efficiency improvement. Did they cook up the ROI he was hoping to dine on? Here are a few benefits he saw:

  • Decrease in order time. Since servers didn’t have to take time going to a POS station, orders could route to the kitchen right away and servers could spend more time servicing customers.
  • Faster service created more table turns, and potentially larger average check amounts. Diners had more time for desserts which led to more revenue.
  • Better customer service. Diners got their food faster but they also got a shot of confidence when they saw their orders being sent to the kitchen rather than sitting in the servers back pocket.
  • Significant reduction in order errors. Reducing order errors reduced kitchen cook-overs and reduced waste from order that were thrown away and not sold.

Mobile printers to print receipts and order confirmations make a great side order to accompany this efficiency feast. Click here to see our line of Zebra’s rugged mobile printers.

Application-Specific Tips for Kiosk Design and Implementation

Previously, we explored fundamental best practices that apply to designing and deploying any kiosk program. Now, let’s look at considerations specific to the following common kiosk applications.

Self-Checkout

  • Ease of integration is key for self-checkout kiosks, which must interface with POS systems and peripheral devices such as bar code scanners and scales.
  • Application designs and peripherals should support fast transaction processing.
  • Minimal downtime is also a key consideration. The receipt printer, as a key component, should have a large paper capacity so it require less-frequent reloading, and should safeguard against jamming when customers pull on the receipt before printing is completed.

Coupons, Promotions and Loyalty

  • Positioning is key. Place coupon/promotion kiosks near the front of the store or the promoted department to maximize use. Deploy kiosks supporting loyalty programs in convenient locations to encourage use on every visit—or, install them in low-traffic areas to draw more customers there.
  • Include a loyalty card reader to capture kisk user information, which can be used to tailor promotions to customer preferences.
  • Ensure coupons/certificates reflect your store’s image: Integrate a printer that supports quality materials and sharp graphics.

Product Information

  • Place kiosks near products, so customers can readily get the product after learning about it.
  • Use video or other multimedia to describe products when the product line is complex or confusing.
  • If content (how-to tips, project materials checklists, product descriptions) is fairly static, the kiosk can hold it in memory and may not need to be networked.

Ordering

  • Choose a high-quality screen and printer that produce sharp images and order tickets or receipts, and that support high levels of throughput.
  • Consider security if the kiosk will also accept payment, particularly if wirelessly networked.

Gift Card

  • System security and reliable receipt printing are essential, since self-service gift card kiosks almost always accept payment.
  • Improve customer satisfaction by install kiosks near customer service counters, to divert customers who might otherwise stand in line to engage a store associate.

Registry

  • Include registry kiosks on the network to ensure the registry is updated when items are selected or ordered.
  • If you like, set the application to print a ticket directing users to the item’s exact location, or to alert an associate to go to the kiosk to interact with the registry shopper.

For more guidance in kiosk implementation, check out these white papers: Understanding Kiosk Requirements: Optimizing Design, Placement and Component Selection and Kiosks are Here—Are You Ready? What You Need to Get Started with Kiosks.

Read more about printing from kiosks.