5 minutes with…Epson's David Spratt

Printer and point of sale (PoS) solutions manufacturer Epson launched a new compact receipt printer to market this week, which it sees as an ideal tool to for the retail industry as it continues to move towards a tablet-based PoS environment.

Epson says the TM-m30 has been designed to meet the demands of modern retail and hospitality companies relating to mobility and style. Businesses can set up the system to print by touching an NFC-equipped mobile device or tablet to the device, and the system's ePOS print technology communicates with web applications to allow direct printing from any mobile device without the need to install or update drivers.

Epson's head of business systems sales, David Spratt, provides Essential Retail with some background details.

Retailers are increasingly keen to talk up the concept of the seamless shopping experience; what's Epson's definition of seamless shopping?

In recent years we heard a lot about multi- and then omnichannel trading and in general I think retailers have got the message about the harmonisation of online and in-store trading. In my view, the discussion is now focusing on delivering a better experience in store which enables you to capture and retain the shopper and maximise the selling opportunity through additional services.

Epson works with retailers and hospitality companies. What would you say these adjacent markets can learn from one another, from a technology perspective?

Retailers and hospitality both have a need to embrace new technology, to take advantage of the analytic data generated within CRM systems or loyalty schemes and utilise it at the point of transaction. They need to enable customers to use their own smart devices, and they can drive efficiency in their own business and improve customer engagement by transitioning from traditional architectures to web-based applications. That said, whist there are opportunities to mobilise the point of sale and provide closer assistance to the customer, the environments are very different in these two sectors. Therefore the products selected to deploy a solution would not necessarily be the same.

What are the top three challenges retailers are facing today, based on your conversations with clients?

Our customers have told us they are under pressure to maximise sales of course, to provide better customer experiences and deliver more services at the point of transaction. To achieve this they require fast, easy to use solutions, that allow them to gain an advantage over their competitors and engage with customers.

What's the story behind Epson's TM-m30? Why has the company brought this to market?

As the in-store environment evolves any hardware needs to be less obtrusive or, if it is on show, to be as stylish as possible. I think we have achieved this with the TM-m30. Besides its good looks, this product is designed specifically to work with tablet-based MPoS solutions, both in terms of the way data can be sent to the printer from web-applications and the flexibility it has to connect wirelessly, via Bluetooth, or Ethernet. It is even a great option for the retailer using a Windows-based PoS application today, but who wants to migrate to take advantage of everything cloud/hosted applications have to offer in the future.

How would you define the Epson strategy in 2015/16? What is the company's key area of focus, right now?

In PoS printing we aim to maintain our market leading position, however the focus and our investment is very much in the future. Our TM-Intelligent printers are gaining traction as more software vendors create applications for the platform and more retailers deploy them. Another new and growing area is mobile printing. We are seeing an increasing demand for portable printers, some for queue busting, and some to enable the completion of tablet-based assisted selling. We are driving innovation to make these printers lighter, yet robust, and with a battery life that makes them truly viable.  

RBTE takes place again on 9-10 March 2016, and Epson has confirmed it will be exhibiting at the event. What value does the show offer you?

There is no doubt that retailers have to keep evolving to remain competitive and this offers both challenges and opportunities. Our products can help them, and RBTE is an important showcase for all these innovations. It provides a great forum for discussion and an opportunity for us to catch up with existing customers. 

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