Versatile In-Store Printers


The importance of a fast, effective printer at point-of-sale for receipts and coupons has been a retailer focus for many years, and with good reason. However, that focus may have overshadowed the importance of a versatile back-office printer for in-store uses that go far beyond inter-store memos and sales reports.

At Liz Claiborne, color printers from Lexmark save the company money and enable sales associates to earn larger sales bonuses. The specialty apparel retailer uses planograms to determine the placement of merchandise within each store. Initially, the planograms evolved into sophisticated full-color photographic images and diagrams that showed products as they should appear in the store. The process of creating and implementing the new planogram could take up to three weeks and involved expensive photographers and photo labs.

To avoid costs of mailing sets of photos to each store, the photographs were often sent as digital images to stores where they were printed out on back-office printers. However, black and white printers often made it difficult or confusing for store personnel to correctly follow the planograms, and as a result, their bonuses would suffer.

In order to address the problem, store managers began purchasing color printers on their own. Recognizing that a better system was needed, IT management at Liz Claiborne spearheaded a cooperative effort to find a platform that would enable in-store color printing of the planograms. "We worked closely with our store operations division and several store managers to find a networked color laser printing solution that could really make it simple for the stores to quickly and effectively implement the merchandising plans," says Leonard Rizzo, retail systems manager at Liz Claiborne. "To do that, we knew that we had to enable color printing of the planograms at the store level."

Lexmark C510n color printers were deployed and the improvement in the quality of the output was immediately noticeable. In addition to thebetter print quality, store managers also like the Lexmark printers because they are serviced from the front instead of from the side or back, which saves considerable space. Now replacing toner cartridges takes just seconds instead of minutes. "We need our store personnel working the floor, not working the printer," says Rizzo.

Signs, Signs Everywhere
Another retailer that discovered its new in-store printer can do more than churn out letterhead is music instrument retailer Sam Ash Music Stores, which features frequent in-store promotions. To support its many promotions, the instrument retailer needs to be able to create and distribute merchandising signs quickly. In an effort to streamline this capability, Sam Ash selected hardware from Oki Printing Solutions and software from AccessVia for in-store sign printing capabilities.

Every Sam Ash store now has an OKI C7350n color signage printer, running the Web dSignShop Web printing software from AccessVia. Associates can select from several pieces of corporate-designed signage and print whatever quantity they need, in color. Every morning, signs are generated at each store for all price changes and all products that arrived the previous day. New products are merchandised promptly and staff and customers are alerted to the latest information.

"By bringing sign printing capability in-store," says David Ash, COO of Sam Ash Music Stores, "we are now able to turnaround sign production quickly for last minute sales and new products; avoid the costs, delays and unreliability of shipping; and alleviate the day-to-day administrative workload of our marketing department."

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