In 2010 the economy lurched from one crisis to the next. However, the businesses that thrive postrecession are those that continue to invest during the bad times. For organisations in the food and beverage industry it has been no different, but those companies that have looked at their processes and deployed technology which will support them as they look to flourish following the slowdown will be equipped to recover the quickest. Labelling has a key role to play as businesses continue to face a range of demands. Customers want more information than ever about their products at the point of sale, be it description, price, promotions, health and safety, but the message needs to be communicated accurately and compellingly, if customers are to buy.Helping the customer
Customers want the information on products to aid their buying decisions. The further use of 2D barcodes and QR codes will be crucial in providing greater information to customers. For example, these barcodes when scanned by a handheld device such as a mobile phone can give customers more information on a product than can be displayed locally. In addition, the ability for a retailer’s technology to recognise the proximity of one of their loyal customers through a mobile device provides an opportunity to communicate relevant information to a customer’s phone based on their previous buying patterns. This can enhance the customer’s shopping experience and provide a sales uplift to the retailer.A seamless fit
When a business looks to select technology to meet its labelling needs there are a number of different issues to consider. The new solution should be able to integrate with existing technology so current investment is not lost.
As far as integrating with the back office systems, it is critical for meeting trading standards, for accuracy, for operating efficiencies and for reducing costs. Integration with the pricing system ensures the price on the shelf is the same as the price in the till. Integrating with the inventory system ensures signage is only sent to stores that stock the relevant products, which will help in the reduction of paper costs. If a retailer has a planogram system, it is also essential that it integrates smoothly. This enables store signage to be printed out in store walk order, which will make changing of store signage much more efficient.
A flexible solution that can integrate with whatever technology the retailer has today or plans to have tomorrow is very important to minimise disruption when the technology changes. Also the signage system should have the capability to manage any increase in the channels that the retailer uses to communicate with its customers, such as digital signage, kiosks and so forth.
The signage system should not only be easy to learn but also include business process automation so that changes to the business can easily be accommodated.
By using an integrated signage system, retailers have been able to deliver consistent, accurate and timely signage to their stores to provide a much better shopping experience for their customers. The automation of signage generation also allows the retailer to react quickly to market and competitive pressures to ensure their customers are getting the best promotional deals. There have been examples of retailers who have cut the time it takes to implement a promotional cycle from days to hours.
The strong arm of the law
Changing legal requirements have put businesses in the food industry under increasing pressure. For example, country of origin information through signs and labels is required regarding certain products such as fresh meat. With this in mind, an effective signage system either with its own content manager or access to the product content on back office can easily incorporate changes in legal requirements.
Once, technological investment was viewed as prohibitive and something that only large organisations could afford and gain a fast ROI on. However, today technology is extremely scalable and can be found operating in small speciality stores all the way up to the largest retailers in the world with thousands of outlets. Businesses who take the decision to invest in labelling technology will be in a strong position to improve the experience of their customers and boost sales as they look to grow in 2011.Case Study
Nor-Sea Foods gets ultimate reward
Nor-Sea Foods has implemented Episys’ Ultimate Labelling solution to streamline its labelling processes so it can print different languages, text sizes and formats. The company supplies processed fish to the retail sector in the UK.
As the company has a wide variety of customers – local supermarkets, UK supermarkets (Tesco, Morrisons, Waitrose and Netto among others) as well as customers worldwide, exporting to Canada, America, France, Germany, Italy, New Zealand and South America – it must have flexible, accurate labelling systems and processes.
Stuart Alexander, factory manager, Nor-Sea Foods, says: “We have to be very precise with the wording of labels as it can often change from one customer to the next, while the positioning of labels can also change. Likewise bar-coding standards differ from one country to the next. It’s important that we have quality control checks and production checks to ensure that labels are kept separate for our different customers.”
The introduction of the Episys Ultimate system has brought a range of advantages to the business. Alexander said: “The software is a very user friendly system compared to the system we had before. The Episys system is easy to edit and it’s simple to create new labels.”
Nor-Sea Foods provides different languages for different countries. Alexander added: “We will have a label produced, translated and make sure it is acceptable and we will produce whatever label is required. Episys has given us the ability to produce a variety of labels in different languages which is a huge benefit for the business.”
The flexibility of the technology paints a positive picture for the future. Alexander said: “If the needs of the business change we have more opportunity with the Episys system to keep up with the demands. The decision to have Episys software on site was the right one for our business.”
Peter Lewis is marketing director at Episys, a global information technology solutions and services company. Episys works with strategic business partners worldwide and with a range of leading technology manufacturers, enabling it to provide solutions to meet each unique business need - from integrated signage systems for major worldwide retailers to specialist labels for food manufacturing.
For further information, visit: www.episys.com.