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Smart Business: Epson: Setting the standard for global POS
More than ever, Epson continues to blaze ahead in the global market for point-of-sales (POS) system devices. In an exclusive interview with Munenori Ando, General Manager of System Devices Sales Division, Epson Singapore, Suzanne Loh finds out the magic formula that makes Epson a favourite choice in POS systems for businesses around the world.
Tokyo Olympic Games, 1964 Suwa Seikosha, the predecessor of Epson, created the world's first electronic printer by combining a quartz timer with a revolutionary miniature printing mechanism.
US Space Shuttle Discovery Mission, 1998 the EPSON Stylus Color 800 ink jet printer was used to print scientific papers, photographs of parts in need of repairs, and digital pictures of the astronauts' families at home sent via e-mail.
These are the imprints of Seiko Epson Corporation, a company that dares to go beyond conventional standards to achieve top-end quality and maximise returns of investments (ROI) for customers.
Established in 1985, Seiko Epson Corporation was the result of a merger of two sister companies, each of which holds unique strengths of its own. While Suwa Seikosha is a global leader of quartz watches and timepieces, Epson Corporation leads the world market for computers, printers and other high-technology products.
Worldwide, the company behind the Epson brand has manufacturing and development facilities in 32 locations, as well as 58 marketing and service bases controlled by four regional headquarters in Europe, China, the US and Singapore.
Since its incorporation in October 1982, Epson Singapore Pte Ltd has gradually expanded its product portfolio to include system and electronic devices, as well as IT and visual instruments covering countries in South-east Asia and Oceania. In terms of receipt printers under system devices, Singapore is by far the largest market compared to Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and India.
This is because Singapore is currently the most advanced country for POS system usage in Asia. With a complete IT infrastructure and good software developers, the republic is able to engage in cutting-edge POS technology, said Munenori Ando, general manager of systems device sales division, Epson Singapore.
This sales growth in Singapore is boosted by Epson's leadership in the global market for POS system devices. Occupying a dominant position in dot-matrix printing technology for the past 15 years, Epson's POS printers has achieved 55% of global market share. According to a US-based Martin Akel & Associates Perception Study conducted in December 2002, 87% of retailers surveyed were aware of Epson's POS products. At the same time, 96% of these retailers have rated Epson's POS quality and responsiveness to customer needs as either good or excellent.
These testimonials were made possible by Epson's innovative manufacturing and marketing, as well as penetrations into new POS markets. In terms of product range, Epson has the largest line-up of POS printing technologies, comprising impact, thermal and inkjet. This attribute enables Epson to be flexible to the specific requirements in POS printers of its vertical markets in the retail, banking and hospitality sectors.
Epson's receipt printers are also endowed with cutting-edge technology and multi-functional capabilities. This is extremely essential to any business where a POS system could either make or break operational efficiencies and customer service at frontline counters. A dysfunction in the software that commands the printer and a simple paper jam could be a nightmare for counter staff, especially in the face of long queue lines. The longer it takes to resolve these inefficiencies, the more probable for customers to walk out of the store to save their time shopping elsewhere.
All of Epson's innovative system device POS products have the capacity to resolve these technical hiccups using best practices' engineering. First, Epson's receipt printers are designed to enable operators to remove the paper easily when it is jammed in the machine. This is an extremely helpful feature as paper jams constitute a considerable percentage of the common POS breakdowns.
Epson's receipt printers also note the fact that food and retail businesses must cut queuing times to accommodate large customer traffic. For instance, the EPSON TM-U220 dot-matrix printer has a one-two-three paper loading system that allows operators to change reels within seconds, using a simple drop-in paper installation with auto-load.
Also with a built-in NV(non-volatile) memory, the printer can print logos and graphics at a faster speed.
These attributes are not easily accomplished by many other printers because their technology makes it difficult to fulfil these qualities, said Ando.
A good cutting edge is equally indispensable for a POS printer. Embedded into selected printer models, the Epson auto-cutter can take up to 1.5 million cuts. Operators can choose to either dispense the receipt to customers or retain it, by executing either a full or partial cut. Interestingly, all Epson auto-cutter blades are manufactured in Japan's geographical area famous for the making of the Japanese samurai sword.
Bringing ROI to customers
Epson's customers have concurred that Epson's POS solutions deliver high operational efficiencies, good customer service and shorter downtimes. Here are their testimonials:
Affordable yet easy to operate, Epson POS hardware EPSON IR-310 meets the demands of a fast-paced dining environment for Marche Singapore restaurants. Diners at these restaurants can now pay their bills by simply scanning barcoded cards at check-out counters. Furthermore, the charging units are compact, high in operating speed and tough enough to withstand splashes and spills.
Now, within 20 minutes, we can undertake 500 transactions on four-cashier stations, said Heinz P lten, general manager and chief merchant of Pasar Gourment Pte Ltd, the operator of Marché restaurants in Singapore.
The in-built EPSON TM-T88III thermal printer also helped Marche Singapore keep up with 875,000 transactions on four cashiers last year without problems. Iten said he would not exclude Epson in his future plans to expand regionally. We will certainly take the current Epson systems along. They've never let us down! he said.
Spaggedies and Moonfish restaurants:
When Tommy Lim, vice-president of Food of Itafest Pte Ltd, recalled going to Epson for an alternative POS system to facilitate operations of its full-service Spaggedies and Moonfish restaurants in 2002, he remembered one thing the understanding and patient Epson sales representative who sat with him for many months to fine-tune the complex requirements of each outlet. He was also equally impressive with Epson's after-sales service, in which its representatives work swiftly round the clock to iron out a major software problem. Every now and then, I sit down with Epson and tell the company about challenges I want to take on, and what I want to do. It's a non-stop process when I have to put an effort into it. Indeed, it is already a partnership, not a hit-and-run business deal! Lim said.