Today’s retailers are under tremendous pressure to satisfy consumers’ demands, which not only require merchants to showcase the latest merchandise in new and creative ways, but also entails using the latest technologies to assist buyers. For instance, retailers that want to stand out from competitors must enable multiple sales channels (e.g., online, mobile, in-store), flexible payment choices (e.g., self-checkout, mobile pay), and adequate checkout lanes to avoid long waits.
The point of sale (POS) system remains a core piece of the puzzle to solving the challenges mentioned above. And, tier-3 and tier-4 retailers have many of the same problems and needs as larger retailers when they’re evaluating new technologies, but their budgets often require them to make different choices. “Plus, traditional POS systems — with their proprietary SDKs [software development kits] and other limitations — make it difficult for smaller retailers to add new software as well as the latest payment options and peripherals,” says Dan Lehotsky, senior manager RTSC/RDC technical team, Epson.
Some merchants are breaking with tradition and going all-in with iPad- or Android-based mobile POS solutions, which solve their needs for affordable, smaller footprint solutions. But these same solutions may require retailers to purchase new POS software, pay for data migration services, and can even lock retailers into expensive support contracts, which drives up their costs over time. Thanks to advances in hardware technology from leading receipt printer OEMs, VARs and MSPs now have a more viable option to consider for their tier-3 and tier-4 customers.
A Retailer Discovers a Small Form Factor POS Alternative
Grocery and C-store retailers who sell lottery tickets as well as controlled merchandise like tobacco and liquor often use designated checkout lanes to ensure they comply with government regulations. If you’ve ever waited in a checkout line only to discover the clerk can’t cash you out because the lane is only for age-restricted items, you can appreciate how frustrating this experience can be.
One merchant solved the above problem by adding a second POS system at each retail location where age-restricted products were sold. While it might sound like they had to extend their counter space to accommodate all the extra equipment and shell out hundreds of thousands of dollars for new POS systems, neither was necessary. Instead, the merchant turned its compact thermal receipt printers into new POS systems. As it turns out, thermal receipt printers have come a long way in the past few years. OEMs like Epson, for example, offer intelligent receipt printers that feature high-powered PCs housed inside compact thermal printer housings. Epson’s latest printers, for instance, the TM-T88VI-DT2 and TM-T7011-DT2, come with Windows OS 10 or Linux and are powered by a seventh-generation Intel processor (Celeron, i3, and i5 configuration options) in addition to a solid-state hard drive (32 GB, 64 GB, 128 GB, and 256 GB options) and 4-8 GB of RAM. The DT2 also comes with 12 interfaces (e.g., HDMI, USB 3.0, VGA, USB Type-C) and a 10GBase-T/100Base-Tx Ethernet port, enabling a myriad of peripheral connections and Internet connectivity.
“By placing the receipt printers in the regular checkout lanes, customers can buy lottery tickets, tobacco or alcohol from the same checkout line they purchase non-restricted items all in one transaction,” says Neil D’Cruz, product marketing manager, Epson.
The size of a small form-factor POS also makes it easily portable for special events, like outside tent sales and mobile food carts. Because the printers run Windows, retailers can use the same POS systems they’re already used to. Or, if they want to switch to a new POS system, they have the option to use a locally installed software package or buy a cloud-based POS subscription.
Another advantage the receipt-printer-based POS has over some of the iPad- and Android-based mobile POS offerings is that it supports remote monitoring and management (RMM). With Epson’s DT2 printers, for example, VARs and MSPs can provide support, or they can use Epson’s North American based support team should any technical issues arise. “This is a huge differentiator compared to some of the other mobile POS offerings,” says Lehotsky. “Murphy’s Law dictates a problem is most likely to occur at the retailer’s busiest time, which could be on a Friday after 5 p.m. The last thing a VAR or retailer wants to do is call an overseas helpdesk that doesn’t speak their language natively and may not even be available for several hours. Customers need to get in touch with an expert who can help them quickly get the problem resolved.”
“With an Epson receipt printer, not only does it come with a standard three-year warranty, which far surpasses most Android and iPad devices, but it features an optional two-year extended warranty,” adds D’Cruz.
When you discover a customer’s need for a new POS system, contacting your receipt printer OEM may not be the first place you think to look for a solution. But, when you consider how much computing power some of these devices now have, and how many boxes they check on customers’ checklists, maybe it should be. If it meets customers’ needs now, and it can adapt with them as their businesses evolve, what does it matter that it’s “just a receipt printer?”