Keeping Up With The Changes In Receipt Printer Technology
As receipt printer technology and markets continue to change, VARs will be faced with more opportunities to sell a variety of printers.
Thermal and hybrid printer shipments are experiencing "explosive" growth, according to a recent report by IHL Consulting Group (Boynton Beach, FL). Shipments of thermal receipt printers have increased over 280% since 1995. This growth is attributed to acceptance of thermal printers in chain restaurants, convenience stores and high-end specialty stores. The market for hybrid printers, those that use both a thermal receipt and impact head for slip printing, grew at a rate of 520% during the same period.
Quiet, Faster Printers In Demand
"Thermal printers operate even more quietly than in the past, creating a greater demand for them in markets such as hospitality," says Patty McCarthy. She is marketing communications manager for Star Micronics (Piscataway, NJ). The company manufactures small receipt printers, visual card systems and audio transducers. Star Micronics has offices worldwide and employs 1,000 people.
McCarthy says thermal printers are being used primarily in new installations or in equipment upgrades due to their long-term reliability. "Thermal technology is still more expensive than dot matrix, including the paper supplies," says McCarthy. Dot-matrix printers can still work well in many applications, such as large department stores, where noise isn't a concern. "Fine dining restaurants, however, don't want a noisy printer inferring with the ambience being created," says McCarthy.
What are end users looking for when choosing receipt printers? Faster print speeds are always in demand, points out McCarthy. The demand for new products that feature a dual print head (thermal and dot matrix) is also increasing. Larger paper roll capacity is especially important, adds McCarthy. "Retailers don't want their check-out lines slowed by the need to change receipt paper," she says.
Multifunction Printers Meet Needs Of Multifaceted Stores
"Multifunctional impact and hybrid printers are meeting the changing needs of retailers," says Mark Bauer. He is vice president of sales for Ithaca Peripherals (Ithaca, NY), a TransAct Technologies Inc. company. TransAct Technologies manufactures transaction printers under the Ithaca and Magnetec brand names for the gaming, lottery, kiosk, and financial services markets. The company had 1997 net sales of $58,000,000.
Bauer points to the Starbucks chain of coffee shops as an example of a "multifaceted retailer". "Starbucks is more than a coffee shop," says Bauer. "Is Starbucks a restaurant that sells merchandise or is it a specialty store that sells coffee?" Another example of a multi-faceted store is today's "super" grocery stores. A grocery store can include a restaurant, a video store, a dry cleaning service and a photo lab. "It takes a versatile printer to fit all the store's needs," says Bauer. The answer may be a multifunction impact or hybrid printer. Such printers, in addition to printing store receipts, may also validate checks, fill in the front of checks, and print on inserted forms.