By Lisa Simmons

Whether it is for eye-catching signage, up-to-date shelf labels, store information or general business administration, printing might seem like a clear cut black-and-white issue, but new colour and multifunction technologies are bringing printing – and printers – to life.

Printing is often viewed as a commodity item, a necessity, a dull grey facilitator which has none of the obvious impacts on bottom line that more exciting technologies have. However, choosing the right printing solution can have an impact on the business far beyond a commodity. Increasingly, printing is pervasive across a retail organisation.

“Retailers typically have very distributed sites and as such face unique challenges in moving information around their organisation and printing it at the point of need,” says Peter Tamblyn, solution account executive at Lexmark Australia.

Eighty of the top 100 retailers in the US are Lexmark customers and many of Australia’s major retailers use Lexmark.
“As a result, we often see retailers printing a lot of important documentation, whether it be signage and shelf labels or store planogram information, at a central head office environment which is then sent by courier to the various stores.

This slows down the responsiveness of their business to changing local market forces. It also creates a lot of wasted output because retailers are forced to take a one-size-fits-all approach rather than cater to regional market factors,” he adds.

Tamblyn believes that if retailers provide individual stores the capability to print on demand their main concerns are centred on how to control what is printed at the store level.

“In particular, they want to know how they can maintain control of the costs, adhere to Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) guidelines and maintain corporate look and feel across the enterprise,” he says.
“They also want to know how they can enhance the in-store customer experience to capitalise on impulse buying decisions and encourage more cross-selling and up-selling opportunities to drive revenues and deliver a competitive advantage.”

A properly constructed output strategy is paramount, and will deliver not just substantial hard dollar savings by providing appropriate devices with the right functionality where they are needed but also, the means by which an organisation can impact workflow and increase the speed of business, says Tamblyn.

For example, the Lexmark C762dn has the ability to print three feet long planogram strips which when utilised for major store resets or new store openings, can reduce the time taken to stack shelves by up to three days, potentially driving a significant competitive advantage in the marketplace and extra revenue.

Networked, the C762dn costs $3965 including GST, whilst the networked and duplex version retails at $4389 including GST.
From an IT support perspective, the ability to easily and remotely manage the devices is critical to reducing costs and achieving a fast return on investment.

Tamblyn says retailers should be looking for devices that are robust and that can handle a wide range of media types, particularly labels of all types. Devices deployed in retail environments should aid in the business process and should not be simply viewed as a paper output device.

“Think strategically about your printing – don’t simply take a commodity approach as it can be extremely costly. A strategic approach to output aligned with the organisation’s business objectives can result in significant cost reductions, streamlined processes, enhanced customer experiences and increased revenues,” he says.