Accurate Labels Help Cook Up Profits for C-stores


Between its high margins and major opportunities for incremental growth, foodservice is currently one of the hottest product categories in convenience retailing. Prepared food now makes up the largest percentage of in-store sales at a whopping 10.87 percent and, in an analysis of the last five years, convenience store foodservice has shown total sales growth of 6 percent or more every year.

That trend is driving a demand for on-demand mobile labeling technology that correctly captures SKUs and pricing at the point-of-sale (POS,) boosting profits for store owners and boosting customer satisfaction with quick and accurate checkouts.

To help deliver even more bang for the buck, today’s compact, all-in-one mobile printers can be used interchangeably to print receipts and generate eye-catching shelf markers, price tags and promotional coupons. These high-performance printers can perform double or triple duty in every area of the store, so their return on investment is high.

Grab-and-Go Solution

Capturing the correct SKU and price at the POS can be a significant challenge when the same hot food items can be sold as part of a combo meal or a la carte, and the complexity increases if the items are packaged in bags that prevent content identification.

If the product is captured inaccurately at the POS, reconciling inventory and “cash-in-till” can become an issue. This was precisely the problem faced by a popular provider of fried chicken that offers a turnkey fried chicken preparation and production business unit for more than 2,000 gas stations and convenience stores nationwide.

Initially, customers placed orders at the food preparation area, choosing from 50 dishes. The bagged order was handed to the customer, who took it to the cashier. It was then the customer’s responsibility to tell the cashier the contents of the bag and pay accordingly. This inefficient system often led to incorrect POS entries, a primary cause of shrink as well as longer lines at the register.

The foodservice company and store operators realized that barcoding each food bag would create accurate and quick scanning at checkout. The challenge was finding a simple way to create barcode labels, given that every store had a different pricebook or POS system.

Implementing a standalone mobile printing labeling solution proved to be the answer.

A combination, easy-to-operate printer/scanner platform can quickly and accurately label fresh-food combinations in the food prep area, but it’s best to find a solution that is preconfigured and ready to use, with minimal setup and training.

When orders are placed, operators should be able to simply scan the laminated menu card to produce the corresponding barcode label for that item and attach the label to the bag. Then, the customer can take the bag to the cashier for scanning and checkout.

Benefits to using an all-in-one, on-demand label printing solution include:

  • Ensures items are scanned and captured correctly at the POS;
  • Correct sales data means more accurate production forecast data, which helps reduce shrink; and
  • Quicker, more efficient sales processing at the sales counter helps reduce customer wait time and can improve the customer experience.

No Fuss Implementation

All-in-one, on-demand label printing solutions can be up and running in hours – at less than half the cost of traditional mobile printing. For cost-conscious retailers seeking to boost efficiency and improve the consumer experience through smart technology, it simply doesn’t get better than that.

The unique advantages of these solutions include:

  • No POS, ERP or pricebook interface;
  • No time-consuming software development or application integration;
  • No recurring software license fees;
  • No Wi-Fi connectivity or security concerns; and
  • No handheld requirement.

These versatile solutions open the door to time- and money-saving opportunities for creative, forward-thinking convenience stores. Use them for a wide variety of applications, including: shelf labels; hang tags; markdown labels; content labels for fresh foods, such as sandwiches and salads, and specialty coffee, tea, soft drinks and other beverages; and bin location or storage ID labels for inbound goods.

When selecting handheld mobile printers for use with in-store mobile POS systems, look for rugged construction, ultra-reliable printing performance, ease of use, versatility and smart functionality that includes easy-to-read display screens plus clear menu icons and intuitive navigation.

Mike Lowey is a retail industry specialist with Brother Mobile Solutions, a developer of mobile label, receipt and printing products for a host of industries.

Editor’s note: The opinions in this column are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of Convenience Store News.

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