"In most of Europe, retail headquarters usually set overall pricing, but where it really counts is what is happening in the store. For price changes to be effective, store operations must change to keep pace with changing marketing strategies." - comments Árpád Halász, regional sales director of Zebra Technologies. Delays and errors in implementing price markdown strategies needlessly cost retailers millions in missed sales and increased labor costs. Delays in coordinating markdown prices on the shelf and at the point-of-sale (POS) also put retailers at risk for violating shelf pricing laws and checkout fraud, which, again, may result in direct losses.
An important tool in closing the loop between setting the pricing strategy and the actual execution is printing new price labels with real-time mobile printers. Mobile printing is an essential tool for efficient price labeling management, and a proven practice to reduce labor costs and improve accuracy for markdowns and a variety of other retail printing application.
Synergon Retail Systems has implemented a number of such systems in Hungary. "Our partners use integrated price management software with mobile computing and printing to be able to mark real time price changes" - commented Romulus Steinbilder, managing director of Synerg Retail Systems. "Retail partners live by the fast changing fashion. Therefore, it is crucial to be able to use printing labels as a strategic tool in meeting customer demands. This price optimization is only made possible if every element of the system is flexible. This is how we select the equipment and compile the system. The objective is that these systems should perform their task perfectly, deliver accurate, real time labels, and considerably reduce the workload against any other type of solution."
In practice, there are various common re-pricing strategies, depending on the given chain, the kind of business, the specific products. The everyday low price concept turns markdown into an obsession, based on the theory that people return to the place where they get the best price. It demands a minute-by-minute attention to the most aggressive price competitiveness, and focuses on in-store execution, which is all about labeling and re-labeling.
The end-of-season sales and sales for special events represent a very significant proportion of annual sales. The ability to reduce or increase the price in the store is a powerful tool, but doing so with a label gun or a red pen, as some specialty retailers may still do, does not assure accuracy, timeliness or cost- and labor-efficiency.
Regional pricing is also common in certain markets. After analyzing buyer behavior, a store chain’s headquarters will increase a product’s price in certain regions or zones to increase margins without affecting sales volumes, or decrease the price to achieve volume targets, though at a lower margin. Successfully carrying out variable pricing at the store level depends on efficient re-labeling techniques as goods arrive from the distribution center.
Price optimization software applications can accurately specify the right item, right price, and right time to mark down an item, and even account for geographic or demographic differences within individual stores. However, they cannot ensure that the store will actually perform the markdown in time.
"Using inefficient processes for managing variable pricing, re-labeling and markdowns puts stores at risk for losing sales" - comments Zebra regional sales director, Árpád Halász. "For example, one of the Zebra retail customers calculated it had lost 20 percent of the potential profits from each promotion it ran because of the extra labor cost required to prepare for the sale. The loss is not simply in financial terms, but a sluggish inventory turnover or inefficient labor practices all cause missing sales opportunities. Our solutions allow the retail companies to put all their focus on the actual customer. And that is the most we can give." - commented Árpád Halász.
About Zebra Technologies
A global leader respected for innovation and reliability, Zebra Technologies Corporation (NASDAQ: ZBRA) provides enabling technologies that allow customers to take smarter actions. Our extensive portfolio of bar code, receipt, card, kiosk and RFID printers and supplies, as well as real-time location solutions give a digital voice to assets, people and transactions that provides greater visibility into mission-critical information. For more information about Zebra’s solutions, visit www.zebra.com.