Zebra Technologies Corporation is a global technology provider which offers an extensive portfolio of products and services, incorporating barcode and RFID technologies, sensoring and visibility software, to various retailers, manufacturers and health care companies.
In an exclusive conversation, Inderpreet Singh, Head – Barcode/ Supplies, India and Subcontinent, Zebra
What are your latest offerings to modern retailers? And, how it is helping them in improving back end operations?
With growing mainstream adoption of connected devices and cloud applications, retailers are becoming smarter about their operations and workflow. Nevertheless, with rising competition worldwide and businesses becoming increasingly mobile, retailers are facing the challenge of gathering real-time intelligence over their assets, process and people that is fundamental to improving visibility over their operations.
In response to this growing demand, Zebra has introduced a suite of Internet of Things (IoT) building blocks, including sensors and data tracking technologies, to streamline retail processes ranging from merchandise display management to inventory and customer relationship management.
For example, businesses can tag individual store items so they can let shoppers know exactly what they have in stock and where its exact location is for better shopping experiences. Sensors such as RFID tags also allow retailers to remotely monitor their inventory in real-time and be automatically prompted when stocks need to be replenished, leading to greater inventory accuracy.
In addition, retailers can gather consumer data and activity to deliver better and smarter customer service with technologies. By using location-based tracking solutions, retailers can offer assistance to customers who are roaming the store, or even send real-time promotions based on customers’ shopping history.
Zebra is also enabling retailers to equip their workforce with greater productivity with products such mobile printers that can be synced with store inventory systems and customer relationship management platforms.
Primarily, which retail category do you cater to?
We have worked with retailers of every category and size. Our portfolio includes leading restaurants, hospitality companies, supermarkets as well as convenience and department stores globally to enable greater productivity and cost-efficiency.
Primarily, your focus is on high end retail chains or small to mid-sized retailers? What percent of your clientage includes small and mid-size retailers?
Zebra’s retail solution portfolio is designed to make the Internet of Retail accessible to all retailers regardless of their size. Our solutions have been used by small and mid-size retailers globally such as The Bargain! Shop in Canada and The Reject Shop in Australia.
Among one of the many appealing properties about the newest IoT applications is their scalability. By leveraging the cloud and utilizing user-friendly interfaces that be accessed through desktop computers, tablets and smartphones, the barrier to entry for businesses is coming down. SMBs can connect as devices as needed, while large corporations can implement enterprise-wide solutions across their global network.
What are latest innovations in bar code technology that retailers can leverage?
At the store front, we are seeing huge opportunities for Mobile POS (mPOS) as a solution for retailers to build customers satisfaction at the store. With customers citing long waiting time and unavailability of stock and product information as some of the top shopping frustrations, it’s easy to see the value mPOS solutions bring in enhancing the in-store shopping experience.
Consisting of a handheld mobile computer or device with a payment card reader and compact, portable printer, mPOS solutions give retailers the ability to process payments anywhere with any card type, including debit and credit cards for payment as well as loyalty and gift cards. At the same time, mPOS solutions free up precious retail space that would be otherwise taken up by fixed sales counters and enable sales staff to engage with customers in a more personal manner.
Retailer can also benefit from implementing RFID-enabled barcode printers to streamline distribution and inventory management processes as well as enable greater tracking capabilities and visibility in back-of-store retail operations. With an increasingly mobile workforce, businesses will be able to achieve greater productivity by deploying devices that can be centrally monitored and managed from any location.
Market is crowded with tech solution providers, what you would advise to retailers who are looking to implementtechnology to improve productivity? What is the word of caution from your side?
Retailers should look for technology providers that will be able to offer a comprehensive solution that meet their hardware and software requirements. Inventory is the backbone of all retail operations, and the day to day management is often handled by employees without deep technical knowledge. As such, businesses should ensure that the solutions that they use are durable and user-friendly to ensure minimal downtime.
Retailers should also ensure that the technology providers that they work with are able to deliver the technical support where needed. To this end, retainers should consider solutions that offer the ability to remotely manage devices that are located in the warehouse. Finally, to meet the demands of the constantly evolving landscape, retailers should ensure that the solutions they use are easy to integrate and offers the scalability to grow alongside their business.
How your services are priced?
We offer Zebra services at most competitive prices to our customers.
Considering any of your retail client kindly share a case study highlighting a challenge and corresponding solution.
Hotel Saravana Bhavan is a vegetarian restaurant chain offering South Indian cuisine to 1,20,000 customers daily from a range of 350 menu items. Over 30 years, it has built a reputation that has allowed the company to grow and it now has 50 outlets spread across ten countries across three continents.
In the competitive food and beverage space, ensuring that customers are seated, served and billed in the quickest possible time is crucial to running a successful business.
Saravana Bhavan, servs nearly 5,000 customers per hour, the staff and management are under continuous pressure to deliver top notch service to their customers, quickly. With an average of 50 tables per restaurant, utilizing available time in the most efficient way is of utmost importance.
Apart from creating operational efficiencies, Saravana Bhavan also wanted to meet its other objectives of enhancing the quality of food, minimizing waste, increasing its market share, expanding its network, and introducing newer products.
Working closely with Saravana Bhavan’s IT department, Zebra Technologies focused on enabling the restaurant chain's objectives while meeting necessary requirements. The solution has to integrate with the restaurant's existing technologyarchitecture which includes Wi-Fi access points, PDA devices, and a network printer in the kitchen area. Waiters would take orders on their PDA, go to a central access point to pick up the printed orders and take them to the kitchen. After the customers finished their meal, waiters would go back to the central access point to print their bills and bring them back to the customer’s tables.
Working with the both the IT team and staff at the restaurant, the team deployed an initial test project of 11 Bluetooth-enabled MZ320 mobile printers. While the waiters carried the handheld PDA in their hands, the MZ 320 mobile printers were conveniently attached to a belt strap worn at the waist. The printers were integrated with the PDAs to enable waiters to take orders and instantly print out the bills.
After a two-year usage study, Saravana Bhavan found Zebra Technologies printers to be more rugged and reliable than others. Zebra printers were also sufficiently lightweight, had high paper-roll capacity, and easily integrated with the restaurant chain's existing system. Saravana Bhavan has since expanded the project with 200 more printers.