Magazine Article | August 1, 2003

Keep Customers Coming Back With A POS Push

Source: Innovative Retail Technologies

One nationally known retailer turned its receipt printers into marketing tools at the POS and increased customer comebacks.

Integrated Solutions For Retailers, August 2003

Regardless of what product(s) you sell or what market you conduct business in, getting customers to keep coming back is probably on your list of top priorities. Are you simply relying on the quality of your goods to keep customer traffic in your store up? Or, are you putting efforts into marketing strategies to lure customers in? Omaha Steaks (a division of OS Salesco, Inc., headquartered in Omaha, NE) chooses both for its 70 retail store operation. The nationally known retailer manufactures, markets, and distributes beef and other gourmet foods. The company oversees three manufacturing plants, a distribution center, and a freezer warehouse. And, although Omaha Steaks is a brand most consumers recognize, the company wanted to increase its return-customer frequency. By deploying receipt printers at the POS with the ability to print promotions, graphics, and other marketing messages, Omaha Steaks' retail stores increased customer return.

Target Customers Based On Location
Omaha Steaks' retail stores were using a series of receipt printers that possessed no messaging capabilities. According to Rick Planos, director of stores, the company needed a receipt printer with greater functionality. "We were looking for a printer that would be easy for our in-store personnel to use and effective from a marketing standpoint. The receipt printers needed to display compelling offers that could be easily changed according to each store location's needs," says Planos. For example, if a Philadelphia store had a special offer, it would be reflected in the receipt promotion in only the stores in that area. Furthermore, the messages on the receipts needed to be changed quickly to adapt to various promotions. Omaha Steaks did not want to put the responsibility of these messages in the hands of store management; instead it wanted to control the messaging on receipts from the corporate level.

Because Omaha Steaks' stores used TransAct Technologies, Inc.'s (Ithaca, NY) products in the past, Planos felt it was a logical choice to further the two companies' relationship. "The previous Ithaca printers from TransAct had no technical problems. The product simply could not meet our marketing needs," explains Planos. The Ithaca POSjet 1000 offered the features Omaha Steaks' retail stores needed to further its marketing efforts. The printer offers a choice of four color options: black, red, green, and blue. It also can print offers or graphics in any combination of two colors. Ease of use at the store level was taken care of by the Insta-Load automatic paper loading system, which required no end user training.

The total installation time for all of Omaha Steaks' stores was about seven months. The biggest challenge for the company was ensuring each printer was connected at the store and corporate levels correctly. Once the printers were integrated, the corporate level tested the functionality by sending diverse messages to each store location.

Increase Customer Traffic, Create Awareness
All of the messages, coupons, graphics, and logos that go out to the store are designed at the corporate level in a Microsoft Word document and then pushed out through the company's MIS (management information systems) department to the stores. Messages can be created in minutes and downloaded to stores in the same amount of time. Offers typically change every three weeks, and there is no labor required at the store level to make the data print onto the receipts. This helps the company send out promotions targeted at specific markets with its messaging, and it takes the control out of the stores' hands. A couple examples of Omaha Steaks' retail stores offers include extra discounts for early Christmas mail orders and advance notice on clearance sales. Omaha Steaks also uses the receipt messaging to reinforce coupon offers and to launch new products such as Flatiron steaks.

"We have increased store traffic and created new product awareness with this marketing tactic. Our biggest concern was if the offers were going to build business," says Planos. To measure how these offers are building business, Omaha Steaks has put a tracking system into place. A source code is assigned to track the response rate of each promotion. Using this system, Planos says he can make sure the results are tangible and not anecdotal. Omaha Steaks plans on continuing to track the results of the messages to define which are the most compelling to their customers. The company presently has no plans to upgrade its current receipt printers.