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.

Kiosks Make Recycling Easy

How many times have you traded-up to a new cell phone in the last 5 years?  According to University of California professor Bill Tomlinson, “The average American gets a new cell phone about every 17 months. That’s a big pile of dead cell phones at the end of the day.”

If you’re like me you haven’t added yours to that big pile yet.  They’re stored away in the bottom drawer of your desk or in a box in the back of the closet.  So, the good news is that we’ve got another choice, we can recycle them.

San Diego based ecoATM has installed kiosks to encourage consumers to recycle their old cell phones.  The kiosks pay recyclers with cash or a contribution to their favorite charity as well as other incentives and coupons.  Mark Bowles, ecoATM founder, calls the solution convenient because the consumer can recycle on the spot instead of traditional buy-back programs that require mail-in of old phones. 

This interesting example of kiosks driving green behavior is just one of several worth reading in the first of a 2 part series by Kioskmarketplaces.com’s Missy Baxter.

Read the rest of the article.

Want to learn about implementing self service kiosks?

Kiosks in Grocery Stores

www.zebra.com

Walmart Announces Item-Level RFID. Will You Be Next?

Walmart has officially launched an item-level RFID initiative requiring some suppliers to tag such apparel items as jeans and socks. You may have seen the report in the July 23 Wall Street Journal.

In RFID Journal’s report the same day, Myron Burke, Walmart’s director of store innovation, explained, “We are focused on items that require a more complex purchasing decision by the customer. With denim, the customer has to make a decision based on brand, style, size and cut, in addition to price, of course. There are other areas of the store where we sell items with similar attributes. Tires are one. Some electronics items, such as TVs, are another.”

RFID Journal also points to an Aberdeen Group survey that shows 57 percent of retailers use or plan to use RFID item-level tagging.

How about you? Do you see enough ROI from item-level tagging that you expect your stores to implement it anytime soon? If so, what sorts of items would you tag?

Read more about the ROI benefits of retail item-level tagging in our earlier blog article, and in the white paper “Traceability in Retail—Reducing RFID Media Costs for Best Value.”

Intelligent Mobility – Print with your Smartphone

Just imagine if retail associates had customizable smartphone apps that allowed them to directly access printers—anywhere in the store, anytime. The possibilities for improving efficiencies are nearly endless, from re-pricing, to queue busting, and even receipt printing tasks. Retailers could create apps for printing inventory records, tracking tags, point-of-sale receipts, product labels, and much more.

For retailers, shifting to mobile devices for in-store tasks presents a wide range of avenues for improving the franchise’s bottom line. Adding smartphone technologies to the mobility mix gives employees a familiar, cost-effective, and reliable tool for streamlining their workload, freeing them up for more customer face time. The result is a vastly improved customer experience. And we all know, customer-friendly retailers command the lion’s share of the revenue stream.

Multiplatform SDKs and Smartphone Apps Unlock Vital Benefits

Today, an innovative wave of multiplatform software development kits (SDKs) are rapidly coming to market that enable retailers to create tailored apps, and print from multiple BlackBerry® smartphone models or Windows Mobile® devices and terminals. The optimal SDK includes intuitive documentation, source code samples, and on-phone demonstration modules that make creating custom applications easy and fast.

In fact, many retailers are empowering their employees with SDK-app enabled smartphones for line queue busting in airport terminals, accelerating point of sale (POS) tasks, and receipt-printing tasks. Printing tasks are not limited to text and graphic-only outputs. Retailers using thermal printers can leverage smartphones to create RFID tags, bar codes, and other complex labeling tasks.

SDK apps allow users to load and print right away, which provide retailers immediate productivity benefits, and eliminate the hassles associated with complex printer middleware. Label templates can be stored on the smartphone, terminal, or directly on the printer, enabling design reuse and scalability as labeling requirements evolve.

A Smart Choice – Print Now, Print Later, From Anywhere

Smartphones turn any location into a mobile office, and create a wide range of compelling business advantages. Smartphone-driven printing provides increased efficiency and flexibility that help lower operational costs and improve customer satisfaction. In most applications, retailers can see an almost immediate return on investment after implementing wireless mobility solutions—especially with the rapid decrease in smartphone prices.

Mobility technology delivers far-reaching benefits to retail operations, quickly, efficiently, and securely. Smartphone technology extends seamless mobility beyond traditional boundaries, enabling businesses to empower their employees with a cost-effective and flexible solution for enhancing the customer experience while driving revenue growth. For more information about multiplatform SDKs and smartphone utilities, see www.zebra.com/sdk.

Other retail printing options

Mobile printers

Six Best Practices for Kiosk Design and Deployment

While retail kiosk applications and configurations will vary according to your business goals, you can still count on certain basic best practices to help guide your design and deployment decisions. Following are six fundamental requirements to make any kiosk solution more successful. 

  1. Maximize reliability. Out-of-service kiosks risk reducing customer satisfaction instead of raising it. Hardware should be built to perform under constant use and tough environments—and without the need for extensive hands-on staff support.
  2. Monitor operation to minimize downtime. Remotely monitor and troubleshoot internal components that issue alerts regarding error conditions over your network. And if your kiosks are compatible with applications you already use to monitor POS and other IT assets, so much the better; you’ll enjoy better ROI and streamline monitoring resources.
  3. Simplify support. To further minimize downtime, ensure your staff is both adequately trained and able to easily access the kiosk to perform routine support tasks like loading printer paper.
  4. Integrate kiosks with information systems and enterprise software applications. It only makes sense to tie a kiosk supporting a customer loyalty program with a CRM application, for example, or to integrate kiosks with POS, inventory, order management and data mining applications as needed. Kiosks must also support enterprise security standards, and are subject to PCI regulations.
  5. Ensure the kiosk is easy for customers to use. Applications should be as intuitive as possible, with help available via on-screen instructions or a nearby employee. And transactions shouldn’t take more than six steps or screens to complete.
  6. Promote kiosk usage. Use promotions, signage, demonstrations, and kiosk placement to increase customer satisfaction and utilization rates.

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.

 Learn more about printers as a kiosk component here.