The ability to implement price markdowns and sales at short notice is a vital activity for the major UK retailers for expectant and existing parents alike, Mothercare and the Early Learning Centre – part of the Mothercare Group. Being able to run ‘instant promotions’ to create consumer interest helps to clear seasonal stock and slow moving lines and labels for these initiatives must be easy to read and have a professional appearance that complies with, and enhances the retailer’s brand.
Within Mothercare, the solution required labels to be used directly on products, shelf edges and on hooks. The Early Learning Centre store chain sought to modernise the appearance of its labelling and looked to implement a new and more efficient labelling technology solution.
Both Mothercare and Early Learning Centre also required a reduction in the amount of time it took for staff to re-price products and prepare for sales periods – all of which would lead to an increase in inventory flow. In addition, both companies wanted to reduce the element of human error when it came to calculating price reductions for products, be able to produce labels on the shop floor right when they were needed, and reduce the amount of waste generated through using sheet labels. The solution needed to realise both cost and time efficiencies for the companies.
Mothercare and Early Learning Centre turned to the partnership of global barcode, labelling and AIDC specialist SATO and globally recognised world leader in Automatic Data Capture and Industrial Automation, Datalogic to provide the solution to the companies’ labelling, price-mark-down and data capture needs.
As part of this solution, SATO proposed the new TH2 label printer. The TH2 offers portable, standalone, intelligent printing and introduces the concept of Application Enabled Printing (AEP). The TH2 printer can be customised to the retailer’s requirements and was therefore able to meet the specifications of the Mothercare and Early Learning Centre project. The TH2 is extremely simple to use, lightweight yet robust and is powered by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that allows between 4,000 and 5,000 labels to be printed from a single charge. The TH2 features an in-built keypad, so there’s no need for a PC in close proximity. It also has a wide, adjustable LCD screen which offers mobile phone type, intuitive operation.
Using the user-defined database, which can easily be downloaded to the unit’s SD card or accessed via the LAN, price calculation responsibilities are removed from the staff on the shop floor while they are still able to implement a sale at short notice to clear end of line or perishable products to improve inventory flow. Employees are able to upload new product and price lists to the TH2 to aid promotions and price checks. Integrating with any handheld scanner the TH2 can print WAS and NOW prices with percentage discount information set automatically onto a tag or label. The professional appearance of the labels themselves has also been enhanced through the TH2’s ability to print either the Mothercare or Early Learning Centre logos directly onto the labels and all at the point of demand.
SATO’s mobile MB200i portable printer was also included as part of the solution as it offers the ultimate in performance and mobility. It is particularly suited to retail applications such as receipt printing, price mark-down labelling, shelf labelling, point-of-sale and product identification and the MB200i’s compact size, fast printing speed, durable and lightweight design make it ideal for mobile, on-demand printing needs. The MB200i has a range of optional accessories such as a battery pack charger, shoulder strap and clip belt.
Datalogic provided the companies with its newly updated Memor™ mobile computer which provides a compact and light weight solution that is small enough to fit in a shirt pocket but durable enough to provide the staying power needed in a retail environment. Widely used in retail applications, it features the Microsoft Windows Mobile 6.1 operating system and an integrated bar code scanner.
Two scanner options (1D and 2D) are available from Datalogic to optimise the Memor™ applications for data capture and traceability, and it is so durable that the mobile computer is protected to withstand accidental drops and occasional exposure to liquids and dust.
Since implementing the SATO and Datalogic solution, Mothercare and Early Learning Centre have been able to achieve a drastic reduction in time spent on sales preparation by their employees. This means that employees can spend more time serving customers. The total solution has helped the companies to realise real cost and time efficiencies and deliver real tangible improvements to their business.
Mark Birnie, Retail Operations Manager for the Mothercare Group said:
"For Mothercare and Early Learning Centre, the technology provided by SATO and Datalogic represents a real problem solving solution. Not only is the price very competitive, but the ease of use and functionality gives our companies a real flexibility of response while maintaining total control of our pricing. It has allowed us not only to save time, but it has also reduced the amount of waste in terms of label sheets used, which results in monetary savings. The SATO and Datalogic partnership has ensured that we have been provided with the best solution on the market to meet the needs of our business".
The project to overhaul the Mothercare and Early Learning Centre labelling and data collection solution by SATO and Datalogic was shortlisted in the ‘Best Use of In-Store Marketing Technology in Retail’ at the 2011 Retail Systems Awards.