Effectively communicating with customers has always been a part of successful merchants’ business strategies. Printing signage, labels, menus and more have allowed merchants to inform their customers about what they have to offer, specials and deals, opportunities to join a loyalty rewards program, enter sweepstakes – even how to find their way around. Now, as consumers return to physical stores and restaurants after more than a year of keeping their distance, merchants must also communicate information that will impact customers’ safety.
“Trends are colliding. Many people are saying they want to go back to stores and restaurants,” says David Vander Dussen, Product Manager at Epson. “But they want merchants to do more than open – they want assurance that they are taking measures that will keep them safe.”
Resonate’s COVID-19 and Emerging Trends Consumer Flash Study, Wave 15 in May 2021, revealed that 54.5 percent of consumers say that browsing and buying in physical stores are important to them. It also provides insight into what will make them comfortable at brick-and-mortar businesses:
- 51 percent of consumers want employees and other customers to wear masks
- 8 percent want information on disinfecting procedures
- 2 percent want the merchant to enforce social distancing
- 8 percent expect reduced occupancy
- 3 percent prefer contactless payment options
- 1 percent want curbside pickup
Consumers expect merchants to make these changes and establish these policies. Printing signage and posting it where customers are sure to see it is a good way for merchants to let customers know they’re responding to their concerns. Vander Dussen says, “Software developers and ISVs have the opportunity to integrate new solutions with point of sale (POS), restaurant and retail management solutions to help merchants communicate effectively and bring new value to customer interactions.”
Solutions that Help Merchants Communicate with Their Customers
Offering a portfolio of versatile solutions for a variety of business needs, the Epson team explained in a recent webinar how label, desktop and large-format printers and laser projectors are valuable additions to merchants’ IT systems:
Curbside pickup, as well as buy online, pickup in store (BOPIS), are on consumers’ wish lists as they return to in-person shopping. Managing these processes efficiently and accurately is key to providing excellent customer experiences – with limited touchpoints with the consumer, it’s essential to get them right.
Integrating label printers with the solutions you provide can help optimize curbside and in-store pickup. Giving your clients liner-free label printing capabilities using a printer such as the Epson TM-L90II LFC thermal label printer, a team member can quickly print a label for a product or package and apply it with one hand – there’s no backing to remove. With clearly labeled orders helping to organize operations, the right customer will always receive the right package and the right type of experience.
In addition, adding a personalized touch to packaging can make a big impression and printing customizable high-quality, durable color labels is easy with a printer like the Epson ColorWorks® C3500. Restaurants can also integrate single-use menus and marketing materials on a budget with a printer like the Epson WorkForce® Pro WF-C579R that offers high-productivity color printing in-house.
Desktop and Large-Format Printers
Kaila Murphy, Product Manager at Epson, points out that on-demand printing enables stores to print signs that communicate occupancy limits, the latest CDC guidance on masks, and social distancing reminders. Additionally, wayfinding signs can help create smooth traffic flow through a store, and restaurants can print single-use menus as needed.
Desktop printers also solve additional pain points. “Desktop printers eliminate the wait time and expense of outsourced printing,” Murphy explains. Businesses have greater flexibility when they want to change the information on signage – and they don’t have to wait for delivery or travel to pick up their orders.
A large-format printer, such as Epson’s SureColor T3270, enables a merchant to print signage such as graphic displays, floor labels for social distancing, window clings that measure up to 24 inches wide.
Laser projectors are an alternative to printing signage, allowing merchants to put bare surfaces to good use and create eye-catching, dynamic displays. Projected images can make a big impact at a low cost per square inch while communicating vital information. A single laser projector can create images from 30 inches to 500 inches on walls, floors, doors – even 3D objects or structures.
Vander Dussen says all of these options can provide value to businesses or organizations seeing increased foot traffic. “These solutions give businesses the ability to educate their customers about the decisions they made about safe operations, as well as elevate their brand identities and strengthen customer relationships,” he says.
Although printers and projectors are valuable assents now, they will also continue to deliver ROI after the pandemic in areas such as:
- Branding: Printers and projectors enable merchants to showcase their logos and other brand elements in a polished, professional way.
- Workflows: Printers streamline internal processes for greater operational efficiency and contribute to smoother BOPIS, curbside pickup, and other customer-facing interactions.
- Consistent CX: Now that more consumers have embraced e-commerce and omnichannel shopping, signage gives merchants the ability to bridge the gap between digital and in-person shopping, for example, including QR codes that shoppers can scan for information or find the business’ social media page.
- Hyperfocused promotions: With in-house signage printing capabilities, merchants have more flexibility to change messaging, run specials, and highlight specific products.
Software developers and ISVs who recognize these benefits can offer their users total solutions that result in greater agility, cost-savings, and a higher degree of customer satisfaction. Furthermore, in-house signage printing solutions aren’t only for retail and hospitality. Your clients in education, manufacturing, local government, tourism – any business or organization that’s facilitating the return to brick-and-mortar locations – can benefit.
What do your clients need to communicate to their customers during the transition back to brick-and-mortar, and how can you help them say it most effectively?