By Theresa Lee
The retail industry is undergoing a big transformation. As we’ve discussed in recent blogs, consumers have higher expectations than ever because of the “Amazon Effect.” They have been conditioned to expect instantaneous delivery, free shipping, free returns and various delivery options: purchase online or in store and delivered to home, BOPIS (buy online and pick up in store), or delivery to lockers or other locations.
Retailers are reacting to these demands and are under pressure to meet these new challenges to compete for the consumer dollars. They are seeking ways to provide added value or services to create a friction-free experience for the customer.
Millennial online purchasing dominates the market
Retailers are recognizing the buying power of the millennial generation – ages 24-39. They are predicted to spend $1.4 trillion in 2020. Millennials grew up in a world of the internet, social media and smart devices so they prefer using digital methods to shop and pay. They are typically time-starved (some having young families) so they seek convenience and make more than 54% of their purchases online.
Most retailers are starting to use digital marketing strategies to influence or sell to this group, and one of the key growth markets seems to be online grocery. It was found that millennials contributed to 47% of online grocery purchases.
The online grocery segment is positioned for high growth in the future of retail. Online grocery sales are estimated to reach $59.5 billion by 2023, from $23.9 billion in 2018.
Trends and challenges the retail industry will face
BOPIS, or free delivery, is spreading to grocery, restaurants, coffee bars and other retailers. Most major grocery stores and Walmart already offer this service. Walmart is even offering grocery pickup and mobile check-in so a customer can let the store know they are on the way and the order will be ready when they arrive.
Most retailers found that it’s not easy to conquer the new eCommerce frontier. They are faced with challenges by the fulfillment logistics and their current infrastructure. Instead of a single point of contact in the store, they now must manage online orders, in-store pickup and home deliveries.
Fulfillment logistics are now far more complex and costly as businesses struggle to meet the different delivery options, higher volume and small orders. Most retailers strive for speed, accuracy and visibility for a better customer experience while struggling to minimize costs.
Toshiba’s new thermal printer helps combat retail logistic challenges
Toshiba’s portable label printers streamline the order fulfillment process, from item picking and sorting to identifying orders for pickup or delivery. These printers improve productivity as they operate on batteries and can print item UPC barcodes and mark downs and itemize orders and other labels or receipts on the spot. This means that labels can be made at the exact moment of application, without adding extra cycles into the workflow, so supply chain schedules can be met and time-sensitive factors surrounding perishable goods can be achieved with ease.
Ideal portable printers are also simple and intuitive to use. Toshiba’s new B-FP2 (2”) portable printer is a great example. It has built-in maintenance alerts to warn users that the battery is running low or a printhead might need to be replaced. Other retailers, such as food delivery or pickup, can use these portable devices to identify orders or receipts in the field.
As the retail environment changes, applications for these portable printers continue to evolve and broaden. Most retailers realize the importance of adopting to the new eCommerce era and are willing to invest in technologies that improve efficiency to elevate customer experiences.
Toshiba will be introducing the new B-FP2 along with our entire printer portfolio in the upcoming Modex (Supply Chain Show – Atlanta) this March. Please visit us at Toshiba booth # 7324.