Generating barcode, product, and shipping labels are a standard part of business processes in a range of industries, from retail and e-commerce, o food and beverage and electronics manufacturing. ISVs need to be aware that many of their clients are benefitting from using printers differently than in the past.
Consider how the right printers are solving challenges and enabling greater efficiency for businesses across industries and markets.
Saving Money on GHS Labels
Epson Product Manager Mark Middendorf says more companies that must comply with the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals are printing labels in-house.
In two-step printing, labels with preprinted graphics and pictograms, usually in color, are ordered first. Then, that same label is used a second time to print and incorporate valuable information into those preprinted labels. It’s been a common practice to order preprinted labels with multiple red diamonds to indicate different types of hazards required by regulation. However, if a substance only requires one red diamond with a pictogram on the label, the company would print over the remaining red diamonds in black. Middendorf explains that OSHA changed regulations to prohibit extra diamonds on the labels.
“Manufacturers that stay with two-step preprinted color media need more variations – labels with one, two, or more diamonds – and the only way to get that variation is to preprint 10K or 20K labels. It adds complexity and cost,” he says.
With a BS 5609-certified color printer like a model from Epson’s ColorWorks Desktop Color Label Printer series, manufacturers can print durable labels on-demand and avoid the costs of a two-step process. Middendorf comments that Epson sees large chemical companies moving in that direction.
An Agile Approach to Cannabis Labeling
Cannabis growers, processors, dispensaries, and shops want to attractively package their products and enhance their brands with color labels. However, preprinting labels is becoming less of an option for businesses in this expanding retail segment.
One reason is printing companies are moving away from short-run label printing because it’s less economical and more labor-intensive than larger print jobs. So, for specialty product manufacturers and retailers, cost-effective options for this service are decreasing.
Furthermore, cannabis regulations are dynamic, and if the federal government enacts cannabis legislation, laws could change again. Cannabis businesses need the flexibility in-house printing provides rather than dealing with the waste and losses associated with large stocks of obsolete labels. For example, Maryland’s largest medical cannabis grower, SunMed Growers, is leveraging a state-of-the-art print-and-apply labeling system with the Epson ColorWorks on-demand color label printer and an Epson VT6L 6-Axis robot for printing high-quality color labels and applying them next-label out. With this system, SunMed Growers no longer needs to rely on pre-printed labels, which previously were often obsolete before being applied.
Retail Returns Management
Epson Product Manager David Vander Dussen says retailers are exploring the efficacy of new ways to manage processes, considering liner-free and color labeling to enhance procedures. However, he points out, “The return portion can get overlooked.”
With a 20 to 30 percent e-commerce return rate, retailers must find efficient ways to process returns, return stock to inventory, and communicate its availability to employees and customers. An option for businesses with both brick-and-mortar and e-commerce channels is using a liner-free label printer, such as Epson’s OmniLink TM-L100. It allows employees to label products with information, such as the reason for return and item condition so sales associates know if the product can be returned to the shelf.
“Liner-free labels won’t damage packaging. Employees can remove them easily, but they’ll stay with products through the returns process,” he says.
BOPIS and Restaurant Takeout or Delivery
Many restaurants have increased efficiency by applying labels to cups and other packaging that follow orders throughout the fulfillment process.
“This is an area in which retailers can learn from restaurants,” Vander Dussen says. “They can see how hospitality has used labels to keep costs down with new fulfillment methods.”
Growing fulfillment methods such as buy online, pickup in store (BOPIS) are popular among consumers but can be expensive for retailers. To preserve margins, the processes must be optimized for accuracy and efficiency. ,.
Vander Dussen points out that retailers can build their own label design and print color labels on demand to create streamlined, cost-effective processes. Clearly labeled steps in a process make it easier for new employees to learn and work independently more quickly. In addition, a well-planned label can provide customers with all the information they need, enhancing customer experience.
Last Mile Fulfillment
Epson Product Manager Ian Livesay says another area that businesses can optimize is last-mile fulfillment.
“Some businesses are growing into one-stop shops. They sell consumer products, food, and other goods while managing deliveries and pickups all in the same location,” he says. “More businesses trying to move diverse products from point A to point B are using liner-free labels in their processes.”
Labels help track items throughout the fulfillment process, group items in an order, indicate the order’s destination, and with barcode scanning, enable tracking once it’s left the fulfillment center and confirm delivery time.
Meet New Demands
With new trends emerging, regulations changing, and your clients looking for new printing solutions, it’s an excellent time to review your printer integrations to ensure you can deliver on-demand capabilities. Add value to the solutions you offer with support for color and liner-free printers that help create cost-effective, efficient processes.