BOULDER, Colo. — Over the past year, Sunflower Farmers Market has used 50% less receipt paper at the checkouts of 10 stores, saving 40% in paper costs, according to Lindsay Hicks, its IT/IS director.
One might think the 23-store natural-and-organic retailer's sales have been down. But the reason for the drop-off in receipt-paper consumption is that receipts are now printed on both sides of the paper, courtesy of the environmentally friendly RealPOS Two-Sided Thermal Printer, from NCR, Dayton, Ohio. The printer also uses “a lot less power,” Hicks said.
Sunflower was one of the first U.S. grocers to use the two-sided printer, which was purchased for 10 stores, with about eight checkout lanes per store, in February 2008. At $187 per lane, the printer costs slightly more than a conventional unit, and it requires thermal paper, which is coated on both sides in order to achieve the double-sided effect and costs more than traditional receipt paper.
Still, “the overall savings in consumption of paper and power made the decision really easy,” Hicks said. Jason Rambler, NCR solutions marketing manager, noted that other expenses, such as storage and freight fees, decrease as a result of using the printer. Sunflower plans to supply all of its 23 stores with the printer by the end of 2010.
Other supermarkets using the printer, which debuted in May 2006, include Edina, Minn.-based Lunds and Byerly's and Montana-based independent Reynold's Market.
NCR did not disclose how many U.S. stores are using the printer but said that usage is growing, though adoption has been slow due to the long lifespan of receipt printers.
The two-sided printer also allows retailers to print advertisements or coupons on the back of the receipt in real time, tailored to specific shoppers. For example, grocers with loyalty programs can print coupons or offers based on a shopper's purchasing history. “It's a live way to communicate with the consumer,” said Rambler. Traditionally, marketing on the back of receipts has been preprinted.
The printer is a “drop-in” solution and works whether a store uses NCR's POS equipment or another manufacturer's equipment, Rambler said. The printers also print one-sided receipts, and have the capacity to switch back and forth between printing options.
To introduce the printers, NCR helped with the Sunflower's marketing push, which included store posters explaining the benefits of the printers. On Sunflower's website, customer comments on the new printers led to other suggestions on ways that the retailer could “go green.”