With close to 900 stores across the UK, the daily 'mark down' process is a critical part of each store's operation and essential to the overall business. This process needs to be completed quickly, producing accurate labels to clear the stock and reduce any potential wastage.
The central stock control system will inform each store the products that are due to go out of date and how many products need to be reduced. These products will then be scanned using a hand held device and a 'mark-down' label will be produced on the Toshiba EP2 portable printer.
As a forward thinking company, Sainsbury's is constantly reviewing their IT infrastructure, evaluating products on the market to ensure they have the best solutions to manage the business. Sainsbury's has been using Toshiba portable printers for price-mark down for over 12 years.
Dean Holt, the Principal Solutions Architect for Channels, commented on the relationship: "We chose the Toshiba portable products as the best fit for our business. They are small, light, robust, with great performance. We are aware of the competitor products on offer but have continued to work with Toshiba as we believe they have the best product in the marketplace at the right price."
In 2008 Sainsbury's evaluated all available portable printing solutions on the market with plans to migrate their existing Toshiba SP2 series to the latest technology. Dean commented on the process: "Although we were happy with the existing solution, we had been using the products for over 5 years and needed to refresh the technology. What set Toshiba apart from the competition was their 'Voice of Customer Approach': they brought members of their Japanese product development team to visit us, listened to our requirements and tailored the product to meet our exact needs."
Toshiba worked with Sainsbury's to make the necessary adaptations to a prototype device. For example, the product is designed with a carry strap or belt clip but in reality the product often sits on the edge of a trolley and often slipped to the floor. Toshiba created rubber bumpers on all corners of the printer so the printer clings to the plastic making a much more efficient operation. Other enhancements included:
The removal of the battery cover, so this is integrated into the battery, adding robustness to the product.
Charge and wireless indicators, essential for trouble shooting and problem solving
Charging the battery in situ, no need to remove battery from the printer in order to charge in a separate docking station.
Placement of the print-head in a suitable internal position, away from the lid, to remove the possibility of damage when changing paper rolls.
Core-less media, essential for safety, with cores not falling out, potentially creating a hazard for customers.
Larger media capacity, for less media changes.
Emulation capabilities, to simply plug in the new model, without any changes to the software.
After a successful trial the roll-out of the new EP2 Toshiba printers, commenced in August 2009 with over 130 stores now benefiting from the new device.
With the legacy product the SP2 still operating effectively and the easy integration of the new products, Sainsbury's plans to complete the migration over the next two years.
"What has impressed me most about Toshiba as a company, is their ability to tailor the product based on our suggestions. I have never experienced this with any other manufacturer. We felt like part of the design team and it is something that I often talk about. I believe that they are able to do this as they are one of the only manufacturers in this arena, that still manufactures their own products from component level. This is essential for product consistency, stability and long-term reliability", commented Dean.