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Pricing Accuracy Through Wireless Portable Printing

Posted November 11, 2009

Zebra Mobile PrintersChallenge
One of America’s largest retailers faces a daily challenge of maintaining accurate pricing of all merchandise across its entire chain of stores.

Further complicating the task is that the prices of more than 1000 products change every week, and up to five percent of the company’s inventory changes in any given month. As recently as the early 1990s, these changes were sent via fax or e-mail and were printed out by store managers at each location. A night shift was required to print out appropriate shelf labels, canvass the store to put these labels on corresponding shelves, and manually update pricing information in the store’s main computer for the check-out terminals. For the average store, these tasks required 20 employees to work six hours after the store closed.

“Every week we’d forfeit nearly 20 percent of our profits from each promotion through the cost of setting up for the sale,” recalled the chain’s operations manager. “Even after spending all of this time and money, human error was nearly out of control. The price of merchandise on the shelf frequently didn’t match the price at checkout. Our customers were frustrated, which was compromising customer loyalty and company reputation.”

Solution
To correct these problems, the retail chain adopted a corporate-wide pricing network with frame-relay host-to-store communication; a wireless, 2.4 GHz frequency-hopping LAN in every store, and network addressable Zebra® portable mobile printers to move the operation onto the floor.

Today, the company uses a team of price checkers to update prices and ensure that shelf labels match checkout counter prices. Each price checker is armed with a small handheld terminal capable of scanning existing shelf labels and a Zebra portable mobile printer that wirelessly connects both devices to the store’s network.

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Purchase Goods Anywhere: A Checkout Counter on the Move

Posted November 10, 2009

Zebra Cameo 3 Portable PrinterChallenge
During the holiday season, long checkout lines mean angry customers, decreased customer loyalty and lost sales. To keep customers in the holiday spirit, one of the nation’s largest discount chains tested a mobile checkout system to eliminate check-out lines, even during the busiest shopping days of the year.

“Even with all of our check-out counters open and our associates working as fast as possible, we still lost dozens of sales each day because people were scared away by the long lines during the holiday season,” commented one store manager. “We had to find a way to add check-out lines during our busiest time. Temporary mobile checkout was the only answer.”

Solution
For the store’s mobile checkout needs, the company turned to Zebra printers—the same brand of printer it relies on to label goods in its critical shipping and receiving operations. “We had used Zebra printers in a variety of logistics applications and they always worked flawlessly,” noted the company’s retail systems manager. “As a very public operation, our check-out operations system had to be fail-proof. Once we realized that Zebra offered a perfect retail solution, we never considered another vendor.”

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Bluetooth Mobile Printers Keeps Blue Devils Mobile

Posted October 23, 2009

Bluetooth Mobile Printers Keeps Blue Devils Mobile
Zebra MZ220Challenge
Whether watching their beloved Blue Devils play basketball or going about their business on campus, students at Duke University in Durham, N.C., are seldom standing still. The university’s widespread use of handheld computers serves students on the go with mobile concessions at events, portable point-of-sale for busy bookstores and other innovative offerings. Now Duke is implementing Zebra MZ 220 mobile printers with Bluetooth® wireless technology and new handheld computers so it can create more mobility and innovation.

The DukeCard is the school’s student ID card, which can also be used for purchases and services throughout campus and the surrounding community. The DukeCard office supports 600,000 daily transactions from nearly 1,800 card readers. Duke University Stores, which runs 25 different retail and office services operations on campus, generates the most sales per student of all independent college store systems in the United States. Campus retailers and student organizations can also process DukeCard transactions using the hand-held computer’s built-in card reader.

“Bluetooth has given us a lot of flexibility. Once we got away from a tethered solution, we could use our mobile devices in places where it was difficult in the past,” says Matthew Drummond, director of Duke University’s DukeCard office. “The system is very convenient to use, and lets us offer mobile concessions at sporting events, concerts and other events.”

All financial transactions must comply with federal electronic funds transfer rules, including the Regulation E requirement to offer a receipt with any transaction. When Duke wanted to expand its services, it needed to find mobile printers that could meet both common and unique requirements.

“Durability is important in our mobile equipment. We hand these devices out to college students. They carry them all around campus. They’ll put them in their book bags, forget about them, and throw the book bags around,” says Drummond. “Battery life was also very important. Student groups can check out the devices for up to a week at a time, so we wanted to get a week’s worth of use on a single charge. We didn’t want to hand out chargers and worry about keeping track of them.”

Because the mobile system is used by student organizations on a temporary basis, it needed to be easy to learn and use for workers with no previous experience and limited training.

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Jumbo Chooses Zebra Label Printers to Improve Customer Service

Posted October 19, 2009

Jumbo is the largest toy retailer in Greece and customer service is at the top of its business agenda. Every day, hundreds of customers buy goods from its 35 stores. The company has an excellent reputation for offering the broadest selection of toys in the market at the best prices.

Customer service, reducing costs and improving productivity are key factors in helping Jumbo to drive and expand its business, and to achieve this, Jumbo recently decided to automate its labelling, price control and stock replenishment procedures.

Previously, such procedures were handled by a central PC workstation connected to a thermal printer in each store. Periodical stock replenishment was carried out manually by employees, who checked the shelves and recorded depleted items. This data was entered again manually into the workstation, and the stock replenishment list printed and forwarded to the outlet’s warehouse. Labels advertising prices, promotions and offers were arranged on the workstation, and printed on a thermal printer. When new stock was placed on the shelves, employees had to take the printed labels, go to the respective shelves and place them under the right items.

Introduction of mobile printers
Jumbo was already very familiar with automation, having first installed automated print procedures in 1996. However, to meet its key business objectives, Jumbo identified that it needed a faster and more flexible mobile printing application. The company was forced to seek a new supplier to help it achieve this, and turned to leading manufacturer of on-demand printing solutions, Zebra Technologies. Subsequently, Jumbo upgraded its stock replenishment system with Zebra QL 420 mobile printers.

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Jones Dairy Farm Empowers Delivery Drivers with Wireless Computers, Printers

Posted October 16, 2009

Zebra RW420

Challenge
Since Milo Jones sold his first sausage in 1889, the Jones Dairy Farm has been making great sausage in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, from a cherished family recipe. Today, six generations later, the Jones family still operates the original farm and maintains its high quality standards.

However, the company’s distribution has grown considerably. It now sells its products online, in stores across the country, as well as in Canada, Japan and Hong Kong. The innovative company was the first in the meat industry to quick-freeze, one of the first to introduce fully-cooked breakfast sausage, and was early to operate a modern bacteriological chemical laboratory.

More recently, Jones Dairy decided to implement a direct store delivery (DSD) application with elements of route accounting for enhanced efficiency and customer service. Previously, Jones Dairy delivery staff had to go back and forth to their trucks to gather and print data for transactions, relying on manual entry using pen and paper forms.

Solution
Jones Dairy coupled Motorola® MC70 mobile computers with Zebra’s RW 420 mobile printers.

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Mobile Printing Enables Charter Baking Company to Deliver the Freshest Organic Baked Goods On-time to Consumers Nationwide

Posted October 15, 2009

Challenge
Headquartered in Boulder, Colorado, Charter Baking Company, a portfolio company of Charterhouse Group, Inc. and North America’s leading supplier of natural and organic bread and baked goods, is dedicated to bringing consumers a variety of the finest natural and organic breads without the use of any artificial ingredients or preservatives. The company distributes branded products from Rudi’s Organic Bakery, The Vermont Baking Company, The Baker, and Matthew’s Bread to supermarkets, mass retailers and a host of independent natural food stores across the U.S. In order to continue to ensure the freshness of its products, Charter Baking wanted to make sure all products were delivered accurately and on-time to meet its customers’ needs.

In 2007, Charter reached out a leading provider of handheld and host software to the route distribution and food processing industries. The company began its relationship when it bought Vermont Bakeries.

“We had been using a variety of disparate route accounting systems in various locales, including manual systems, and we were lacking the real-time visibility of inventory and sales data that could help us plan production for maximum sales, profitability and customer service,” said Andy Artzer, CIO of Charter Baking Company.

“Manual transactions at the store delivery level slowed down drivers’ productivity and efficiency and were a hindrance to our growth. In addition, the lack of real-time sales/inventory information and sales integration with our back-office planning system made forecasting and production planning a challenge. As a result, we experienced higher return rates in some regions or stores and out-of-stocks in others. Now, with the new system we can do more accurate forecasting by region and by store.”

Based on its needs, Charter Baking selected a sales tracking, ordering, route settlement, mobile/wireless route accounting/direct-store-delivery solution. The application runs on any Microsoft Windows Mobile device and the Charter Baking implementation utilizes Motorola MC9090 rugged mobile computers with a keypad designed specifically for DSD and Zebra RW 420 mobile/wireless receipt printers. Transaction data from each route is uploaded
daily into Charter’s host system application called “Bakers Dozen”.

“We specified Zebra’s mobile technology as a result of an evaluation our company conducted on mobile printers in the marketplace, in which Zebra ranked highest on its usability, rugged construction, printing quality and superior battery life,” explains Artzer. “With the old system it was difficult to decipher the drivers’ handwriting. Now, with the mobile printers, all the printouts are clear and legible.”

Using the handheld mobile/wireless solution, Charter’s drivers can complete delivery route transactions quickly and conveniently. With the mobile computer and printer, Charter’s mobile workers can issue invoices, print receipts, collect signatures, enter credits for returns and accept payments on the spot, then communicate these transactions to the host system. Product and quantity data can be entered either by scanning the product’s UPC code or entering the number into the handheld.

“Implementing the system has helped us streamline delivery operations for drivers and provides us with significantly greater accountability and accuracy on product sales across all locations,” states Artzer. “As a result, we can identify and optimize sales opportunities and ensure that production, distribution and product placement are done in the most advantageous manner to serve our customers.”

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Heineken Spain Chooses Zebra For Printing Invoices and Receipts

Posted October 14, 2009

The challenge
Previously drivers used either handwritten or printed carbon paper forms, making the creation of new documents slow and difficult. This caused a multitude of complaints due to errors or problems reading the documents.

The Objectives
The main purpose of the project was to speed up the distribution process and enable distributors to correct orders when making deliveries, preventing errors when creating the document and during the final invoicing process. In addition, SIH wanted to increase the quality of its printed receipts and invoices printed on mobile printers and reduce the cost of excessive paper consumption.

The Solution
Using Zebra QL 420TM and RW 420TM wireless mobile printers along with Symbol MC9060 terminals, orders can now be corrected during delivery. It is now possible to make changes and print on demand without wasting paper. Thanks to this new process, the distributor now has a record of all the work carried out en route during the course of the day. This is achieved by uploading data to the central system using a Symbol terminal.

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Mobile Printing Keeps Productivity Percolating at Green Mountain Coffee Roasters

Posted October 9, 2009

Highlights

  • Forklift-mounted mobile printers cut travel time, reduced labeling errors, and increased throughput in the DC.
  • Updated printing operations lowered supply costs.
  • Driven natively from within PeopleSoft and other leading ERP software packages, Zebra printers’ ease of integration saves considerable time and costs.
  • Four different types of Zebra printers are now used to handle various tasks through- out the company, all sharing a common printer language for ease of support and to share label formats.
  • Zebra’s rugged and reliable printers support the broadest range of wireless security standards.

Challenge
Green Mountain Coffee Roasters was named one of America’s “100 Fastest-Growing Small Companies” by FORTUNE Small Business in 2006. The company was growing fast, but its main distribution center in Waterbury, Vt., was not. Green Mountain Coffee Roasters expected the facility to meet its needs for at least six years after it was built, but after three the DC was running at full capacity. The company needed to seek out new ways to make the distribution center more efficient, and to get more out of the capacity it had. Mobile printing was one of the answers to these challenges, making a key process more efficient to help Green Mountain keep up with its growing business.

Green Mountain coffee grew from a local favorite to a successful national brand through its mail-order catalog and Web site. More success followed. Green Mountain coffee is sold nationally under the famous Newman’s Own® Organics brands, and is served in McDonald’s restaurants throughout the Northeast. The company boasts more than 7,000 wholesale customers, was one of the first coffee companies to offer a successful Fair Trade Certified® product line, and ranked No. 1 on Business Ethics magazine’s list of “100 Best Corporate Citizens.”

In short, Green Mountain coffee is hot. Workload at its central distribution center was overheating. The facility runs three shifts and operates 24 hours a day to ship orders to customers and other distribution centers. The company needed to find new ways to keep up with the growing demand.

Solution
To support the output it needed, Green Mountain decided to increase automation at its main distribution center in Waterbury, Vt. Products are stored in aisles that are each 60 yards long. Material handling systems specialist Diamond Phoenix was contracted to develop a customized warehouse control system (WCS) to integrate with Green Mountain’s legacy enterprise resource planning (ERP) system from PeopleSoft. A Zebra Technologies Premier Partner, recommended new bar code label printers and processes to provide more time savings and efficiency gains.

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Incoming Goods Are On the Move with Forklift Mounted Mobile Printers

Posted October 5, 2009

Zebra Encore printers

Challenge:
Moving inventory from dock to stock was a time- consuming, costly process that needed to be improved.

Solution:
Mobile-mounted printers, handheld terminals, and RF data communication enable receiving personnel to process incoming stock and deliver it to inventory.

Product:
Zebra® Encore 4TM mobile printers

As incoming inventory arrives on the receiving dock, it is unloaded onto a forklift. While the goods remain on the forklift, the operator simply keys in to the terminal the product and supplier. The terminal is linked by radio frequency (RF) communication to the automated warehouse host computer. Information on the incoming stock is accessed in seconds. The Zebra Encore 4 mobile thermal printer then prints a routing ticket indicating the specific warehouse location at which the material will be stocked. The operator can then proceed directly to the warehouse location to deliver the material.

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MIM labels three times faster with Zebra mobile printers

Posted October 2, 2009

Zebra QL 220Objective:
Improve efficiency by enabling store staff to automatically print product labels when handheld terminals display a change of price.

Solution:
The roll-out of 300 QL 220 mobile printers for MIM stores

To boost its efficiency, the MIM chain has just equipped its stores with 300 QL 220 mobile printers. Integrated with the stores IT system, the printers have enabled the company to become more reactive, and store personnel can now do price checking and labeling tasks three times faster than before. MIM is extremely satisfied with this rise in productivity.

Benefits:
Time saved: price labeling is three times faster than the previous solution using a manual labeler.

Reduced risk of errors: data used for label printing is sent directly from the central store system. Staff do not need to enter this information, thereby reducing the risk of error.

Improvements in working conditions: ergonomically designed and very simply to maintain, the PDT and printer combination is easy to use.

Less development needed: implementing the QL 220 and interfacing it with the system, required almost no extra development due to Zebra’s open interfaces.

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