Direct store delivery (DSD), selling or distributing products directly to the point of sale (POS) or point of consumption (POC), is especially popular for food, drink, and other high-volume goods. Eliminating the “middlemen” in the supply chain is most efficient, especially when products have a short shelf life or are in high demand. Manufacturers ranging from Coca-Cola® and Budweiser® to Entenmann’s® and Hallmark Cards use DSD to get products right to the store — and to shoppers faster.
One of the elements essential to a successful DSD process is to add a mobile automation solution that supports receipt and label printing. Mobile DSD solutions give drivers more time to spend on merchandising, information gathering, campaign management, and other value-adding DSD-related services, instead of having to manually create invoices and receipts.
The ability to print on-demand is also extremely helpful. For example, a driver may find that an individual store’s needs have changed, and mobile printing can quickly and easily produce accurate, up-to-date invoices, orders, pick lists, receipts, labels, and more.
Your customers rely on you for solutions that enable their mobile sales teams to work most efficiently and maximize profits. Providing reliable on-demand printing in the field, however, hasn’t always been easy. Smart solution providers are offering their customers Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) mobile thermal printers, an ideal choice for DSD applications.
What Makes BLE Printers Different?
BLE printers support a communication range similar to “classic” Bluetooth of at least 330 feet, with significantly reduced power consumption. This feature offers operational cost savings and prolongs battery life. But perhaps an even greater advantage is that BLE printers can work with any compatible iOS device (iPhone®, iPad®, iPod Touch®) without the need for pairing. With standard Bluetooth, only one printer can be paired with an iOS device, and each user must use that specific mobile printer every day. However, BLE allows any employee to use any mobile receipt printer since no pairing is required. This feature makes BLE printers perfect for bring your own device (BYOD) environments.
Benefits of BLE
There are several benefits your clients can expect when you provide a BLE mobile thermal receipt printer for their DSD applications:
- Easy to use: Because BLE mobile printers are shareable between multiple iOS devices, drivers can simply grab a printer and go without worrying about matching a particular printer to their devices. No pairing also means that drivers who aren’t tech savvy don’t have to go into their iOS settings and deal with configuring. Connections between the printer and mobile device are handled automatically by applications, so the user can just open an app and print from there. Ease of use also extends to fast and simple paper loading, with printers offering “drop in and print” roll changes.
- Smaller, Portable Footprint: A mobile printer needs to be compact and lightweight. Drivers use these printers all day, so they need something small and easy to carry. There are BLE mobile printers that fit easily in the palm of one’s hand and can be worn comfortably on a belt clip. Some weigh about 1 ounce or less, including the battery.
- Reliability: Productivity depends upon consistent device performance. BLE printers deliver high-quality print resolution, ensuring your driver has a clean and readable receipt every time. BLE printers also have high mean cycles between failure (MCBF) rates, with the ability to print millions of lines before requiring maintenance beyond paper changes. In addition, durable print heads can last for 30+ miles of printing.
- Battery Life: Related to reliability, don’t under estimate the importance of battery life. DSD drivers’ long shifts mean that printer batteries need to last. Look for BLE printers that offer at least 10+ hours of battery life. A good BLE printer will also have a USB port and cable for convenient charging with any mobile device USB power adapter or PC USB port.
When you are looking for the best BLE mobile printer for your customers, make sure it has the right features to meet the greatest variety of printing needs.
- Direct Thermal Printing: With thermal transfer or impact printing, the print head comes into contact with an ink ribbon to produce text. Direct thermal printing eliminates the need for a ribbon, as the print head contacts the thermal paper and produces text through a heat reaction. There are several reasons why direct thermal printing is the best choice for mobile printing and in particular for the fast-paced environment of DSD. The only consumable is the paper, which saves time and maintenance (no worries about having to change ribbons) and is more economical, providing significant cost savings. Direct thermal printing also produces a higher resolution than thermal transfer, creating crisp, legible receipts. They print faster as well, with some printers offering speeds of 1 to 2.5 inches per second. In addition, they operate quietly, which is a necessity when working in a customer’s store.
- Connectivity: Besides BLE 4.0 for use with any iOS devices, it’s helpful to also have standard Bluetooth 3.0 for use with Android and Windows devices as well as iOS. In BYOD environments, some users may not have an iOS device to take advantage of BLE, so having a backup means of connectivity is wise.
- Backlit Display: These printers may be used in bright sunlight conditions, and a backlit LCD is easier to read.
- Versatility: A good BLE printer should offer 1D and 2D barcode support to suit a range of printing needs. There are also BLE printers that offer adjustable paper width for greater flexibility. Some printers also provide special capabilities such as a “de-curl” feature for smooth and flat receipts.
- Durability: Mobile printers need to be able to withstand tough working conditions and various environments. An ingress protection (IP) rating will tell you about the level of the printer’s resistance to dust and moisture. The first digit refers to dust protection, and the second digit refers to protection against liquids (everything from raindrops to soda spills). The higher the digits, the greater the resistance. Also look for printers that have a drop test rating of 3 to 4 feet to see whether they can withstand a fall to pavement or a store floor.
And of course, it’s good to look for a product backed by a warranty that will help you maximize your profits as a value-added reseller.
Other Industries that Benefit from BLE Printing
BLE mobile thermal printing isn’t just for DSD applications. It will benefit any of your customers within an industry or corporation where employees use devices of their choice for BYOD environments. Any workplace that uses a pool of printers for a fleet of mobile workers will appreciate the “grab and go” convenience of not having to pair specific devices. A great example of this type of workplace is a taxi, limo, or rideshare service. BLE mobile printers can also be an economical choice for linebusting in retail stores or faster service in restaurants.
Give Your Customers the Best Choice
A BLE thermal receipt printer for DSD applications is the most sensible option for your manufacturer customers. Set their DSD drivers up for success with a printer such as the Star Micronics SM-L200 and the new Star Micronics SM-L300.
Providing solutions that address your clients’ pain points and increase their efficiency will help cement your role as a trusted business advisor. They need your guidance when it comes to technology — helping them find the very best solutions for their applications will establish you as a true partner that has their business’ best interests in mind, not just someone who sells technology.
Partnering with an industry leader in mobile printing technology can help you stay on the cutting edge of technology and provide your clients with state-of-the-art solutions that can give them new operational efficiencies and a competitive advantage.
About the SM-L200 and SM-L300
The SM-L200 supports Bluetooth low energy (BLE 4.0) technology for all iOS mobile devices such as the Apple iPad®, iPhone® and iPod touch®. Its compact and lightweight design make this two-inch portable printer perfect for a wide range of applications from queue busting in retail and hospitality to home delivery 58mm wide invoicing.
The SM-L200 is the first portable printer currently on the market which offers the ability to connect any Apple, iOS BLE compatible device without having to pair to it. With no limitation on the number of devices connected, BLE is the perfect solution for BYOD (bring your own device) environments that does not require any certification or prior authorization from your iOS operating system. In addition to the BLE feature for iOS, the SM-L200 is Bluetooth (3.0/ 4.0) compatible with all operating systems (Windows, Android, and iOS).
Always leading - always innovating, Star Micronics is proud to introduce the SM-L300, 3-inch portable printer. This addition to the SM-L series of Bluetooth low evergy portable printers allows users to connect to any Apple iPad®, iPhone®, or iPod touch®, iOS BLE compatible device without having to pair to it. With no limitation on the number of devices connected, BLE is the perfect solution for any environment using multiple devices for mPOS printing. In addition, it requires no certification or prior authorization from your iOS application. The SM-L300 is Bluetooth (3.0/4.0) compatible with all operating systems including Windows, Android™, and iOS.
Ready to learn more about BLE thermal printing? Get your copy of our free eBook, "Why BLE Thermal Printers are Ideal for DSD Applications" now!
Heidi Orpilla is the Digital Content Specialist at Star Micronics where she creates and manages content for Star’s blog, social media, website, products, and more. Heidi has a passion for writing and has worked in the B2B marketing space for over five years. Prior to working at Star, Heidi worked at a large reseller for six years.