If your application is designed to give your customers mobile printing functionality, you need to integrate and certify your software with mobile printer hardware. With so many printers on the market, however, it can be hard to determine the brands and models that are the best fit for your customers’ use cases — and the best investment of your time and resources.
DevPro Journal asked Aileen Maldonado, product manager for Epson America’s Point-of-Sale (POS) Solutions Division, to provide ISVs with insights into how to choose mobile printers that will result in the best ROI for you and your customers. Maldonado offers four valuable pieces of advice:
#1 Match the printer to the environment
You understand how the printer would work with your software, but it’s also important to understand the types of printers that would work best in your customer’s environments. For example, an impact printer, rather than a thermal printer, is the best choice for a hot, humid, restaurant kitchen. Also consider whether your customer will be printing only receipts or labels and documents that need to last — which can help you decide between thermal transfer and direct thermal printing. Consider a mobile POS printer that can both support an existing PC POS system and a smart device, simultaneously.
A printer with a flexible design can add value. Printers that can be mounted under a counter are a good choice for merchants with limited workspace or who want to achieve a clean, uncluttered retail space. A mobile POS printer that can work with a belt clip may be the best solution for a retailer’s line busting application during the busy holiday season. Flexible connectivity (Bluetooth or Wi-Fi) makes the printer a versatile solution that can adapt to different customers’ needs. Also look for printer lines with models covering a range of media sizes. Maldonado says it’s best to have the option when introducing a mobile belt-clip printer to a legacy POS environment, matching the size of the receipt is important for consistency.
Durability is also important to consider. Less expensive printers often have shorter lifespans. If they break, it may not be financially feasible to repair them, so replacement is the only option. “Cheaper products can actually be more expensive in the long run and can impact the customer experience,” Maldonado comments. She says to investigate the printer’s IP rating, which shows how resistant the printer is to damage from dust or water infiltration, and drop rating, which indicates how it performs after a fall to a hard surface. This information will reveal whether the printer is rugged enough to be a good choice for a user’s environment.
Maldonado advises ISVs to be forward-thinking: “Can you buy it today and update it tomorrow to support new applications?” Look for a printer with features that can extend its life and result in a lower total cost of ownership (TCO).
#2 Work with a vendor that will support your customers
Maldonado says it’s vital to consider the vendor’s reputation when choosing mobile POS printers. “Trusted brands stand behind their products and support customers throughout the product’s lifespan,” she says. Investigate warranty terms, which can reveal the product’s quality — printers designed for long life have longer warranties. Maldonado adds that the vendor should also have a good track record of providing excellent service and support for resellers.
#3 Work with a vendor that will support you
In addition to evaluating mobile printer lines for the value they can offer your customers, Maldonado advises evaluating the impact the partnership with the vendor will have on your business. Research the level of support the vendor is willing to provide to help you integrate your software with their hardware. Research the vendor’s SDK library and make sure there are tools for any platform so you can minimize development costs.
An indication of a mobile printer vendor’s commitment to its ISV partners is whether it has an established ISV partner program and a software team that provides technical support and helps match products with your customers’ use cases.
#4 Choose a vendor partner committed to innovation
Maldonado says to form a valuable, lasting partnership, it’s a good strategy to choose a mobile printer vendor with a roadmap that includes new product lines for your market. New innovations include NFC pairing that allows printers to easily pair with smart devices — even if multiple devices are sharing the printer — and eliminates interference if another device is nearby
Researching which mobile printers are the best for your application and for your customers’ environments is a key step to providing great user experiences. Form strategic partnerships with mobile printer vendors to provide your customers with the ability to use those solutions, as well as to help you grow your business.
Aileen Maldonado is a Product Manager for Epson America’s Point-of-Sale (POS) Solutions Division. For the last two years, she’s managed product marketing and business strategy for the mSeries and Mobilink product lines for the North America region. Prior to Epson, Aileen spent four years at Belkin International as a Marketing Manager. She earned her Bachelor’s in Business Administration from California State University, Los Angeles.