Point of sale (POS) is no longer limited to the traditional, fixed model. Merchants have tried and proven the benefits of mobility. They can complete payment transactions in-aisle or tableside, and set up additional checkouts for line busting. In addition, they can enhance the customer experience at their establishments by providing sales associates and wait staff with information on products and menu items, promotions and sales, and even the customer’s purchase history or loyalty program activity.
While POS has gone mobile, so have label and receipt printers, as well as the point of sale systems they operate with. Mobile printers or mobile point of sale systems can help reduce labor time and costs of in-aisle and shelf labeling. Mobile point of sale also provides mobile receipt printing both in-store and beyond, at pop-up shops, and other outdoor sales and dining venues.
Today’s mPOS solutions can be both lightweight and easy-to-use, are capable of printing receipts and labels with a variety of media, and can even assist businesses with their marketing strategy. Mobile POS peripherals can connect with mobile devices such as tablets or mobile phones using cabled, Bluetooth, or wireless network connection. They can also receive print jobs directly from the merchant’s network, or third-party online ordering and scheduling applications.
From a printer software perspective, however, mPOS has created new challenges. With merchants using a variety of devices for POS functions, printing is no longer as simple as plugging in a printer that’s designed to work with the POS terminal to print receipts and other materials such as labels, tags, forms, or coupons.
As your mobility initiative grows, you may encounter challenges to printing what you need, when and where you need it. Here are three common challenges merchants face with mobile printing and the solutions that will help you overcome them.
Challenge 1: Printing from an iOS, Android, or Windows Native App
With most legacy applications, many POS printers and printer brands could be used by just installing the right Windows driver. Since iOS and Android operating systems do not have a print engine to support drivers, the printer functions need to be integrated inside the POS software, thus limiting the choice. Fortunately, these companies have usually integrated the best of breed printers which make for an easy choice.
Solution: SDK Integration
A software development kit (SDK) helps software engineers or developers to speed up the process to support special features (like printing) in software applications. The printing SDKs needed to create applications are usually available for developers to download from the printer hardware manufacturer. For example, iOS applications traditionally use Objective-C or the Swift programming language, while Android uses Java.
An advantage to SDK integration is that the application your software engineer or developer creates can give you more complete control of printing, such as adjusting print formatting, controlling the cash drawer, or checking the status of the printer. It also enables additional, innovative features to be added to the print application such as digital receipts and other cloud services.
Another huge advantage is that an SDK provides a foundation for developers to build on. Without it, each developer would have to build the basics themselves, which can be especially complicated when working with multiple printers.
The modern SDKs provided by printer manufacturers are designed to be powerful while also being simple to integrate – adding printing capabilities may only require a few lines of code.
Star Micronics’ AirPrint technology allows retailers to continue to use the simple print method that they are used to. Apple has certified Star Micronics’ TSP654II AirPrint as the first and only AirPrint receipt printer, and has also certified the Star Micronics TSP847II AirPrint, which can print labels, tickets, forms, barcodes, and graphics. Modern and flexible, this new technology is beneficial to integrators as well.
For ISVs, using Star Micronics’ AirPrint technology is the easiest and fastest way to integrate a printer with Apple software. The TSP654II AirPrint and TSP847II AirPrint work immediately after setup and are the perfect fit for the occasional print job. With Star Micronics’ Apple-certified printers, Mac and iOS developers now have another option in addition to the StarPRNT SDK, giving them more flexible printer control.
Challenge 2: Managing Online Ordering and Scheduling
Online ordering and scheduling have made a huge splash in the global marketplace. In particular, the hospitality, salon/spa, medical, and service industries have been highly effected. Customers choose to order food and schedule appointments online primarily for convenience. Online ordering and scheduling help to simplify the process, ensure accuracy, keep costs transparent, reduce human error, and more.
This new wave of Cloud-based orders and requests presents a new set of challenges to those in effected industries – and all of those challenges revolve around having a reliable, functional mPOS and chit printer. Businesses need a printer that can promptly receive and alert staff to online orders and requests, and that is compatible with today’s modern, ever-changing online applications.
Star’s CloudPRNT technology is the answer to online ordering and scheduling pain points. A remote printing technology specially designed for Web-based POS printing, CloudPRNT is scalable, quick to integrate, easy to deploy, and even allows Cloud-connected control of peripherals.
Platform-independent, CloudPRNT is compatible with the industry’s top online ordering and scheduling applications. CloudPRNT, which automatically detects and pulls Web-based orders and requests, requires no SSL certificate, has no exposed network ports or special firewall settings, and is compatible with any programming language or operating system.
Challenge 3: Printing from a Web Browser Application
Advanced Web standards, such as HTML5, give developers the ability to build Web-based applications with nearly the same level of features as native (local) applications. Web applications have the added advantage of allowing live, automatic updating so that customers always have the most up-to-date version of the software since the application lives in the cloud.
If the POS software is Web-based, the issue isn’t which mobile device the application is running on. Most Web-based solutions are device agnostic: if the device can connect to the Internet, it can usually use the application. In this case, it’s necessary for the printer to receive data directly from the Web-based application.