Streamline Retail Operations with Managed Print Services

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In the retail sector, reducing costs and boosting efficiency are critical objectives, yet print operations often go underappreciated. And yet, as the title implies, you can improve productivity in your retail operation – both at local branches and corporate – by organizing it under a managed print solution.  

Given that almost every store and office within a retail chain needs to print documents, the number of printing devices in a multi-location retail organization can easily number in the thousands. Switching to managed print services (MPS) can save retail organizations millions of dollars and bring enhanced traceability, predictability, and control to their print operations. Successfully implementing MPS in retail requires meticulous planning, extensive communication, and strategic change management. 

What Are the Hidden Costs and Consequences of Unmanaged Print Operations? 

Retail organizations often face significant hidden costs and operational inefficiencies due to unmanaged print operations. These issues can include: 

Rogue Spending by Local Branches 

Without centralized control, local branches may purchase their own printing supplies, leading to inconsistent spending and inflated costs. This lack of oversight can result in significant financial waste. We often find branches overspending on toner – either because they’re buying more than they need, or because they’re buying at the wrong price point. 

Example: The local branch runs out of toner. Rather than coordinate with corporate, they simply go to their local office supplies store, which is an approved vendor, and purchase toner – under the wrong line item. This becomes a working, repeatable pattern, making their toner expenditure untrackable. 

Example: An inkjet printer at the local branch stops working. Rather than going through the hassle of sending it to the manufacturer for repair, the assistant manager purchases one at the local box store, under the wrong line item. This printer is invisible to corporate.

Device Incompatibility 

Using different brands and models of printers can result in compatibility issues, complicating maintenance and supply management. This can lead to increased downtime and higher maintenance costs. 

More importantly, your employees are eager to get things done. When a copier or printer slows them down, it lowers morale and causes a loss of faith in management. 

Multiple Vendors 

Managing multiple vendors for different devices and supplies, each with their own SLA and their own maintenance protocols, creates administrative headaches and inefficiencies.  

One of key the wins of an MPS implementation is that you can consolidate vendors, reducing overhead and streamlining processes – even to the point of one single point of accountability and reporting. 

Unpredictable Maintenance: Without a managed service provider, maintenance schedules are inconsistent, leading to unexpected breakdowns and higher repair costs. Predictive maintenance can significantly reduce these issues, as highlighted by Gartner's market guide. 

It’s worth noting that preventative maintenance leads to a much longer useful life for every device, resulting in significant savings in equipment spend. 

Key Elements of a Successful Retail Managed Print Implementation 


A thorough assessment of the print operation is crucial. This allows the team to project a realistic timeline and set expectations for the required team size. Key aspects include: 

  • Inventory Management: Identify all printing devices, including types, brands, models, and their usage patterns. This ensures no devices are overlooked.
  • Usage Analysis: Evaluate current usage patterns to identify high-usage devices and locations, aiding in the planning of device allocation and load balancing.
  • Detailed Recommendations: Specific actions to optimize print workflows, reduce costs, and enhance security.
  • Implementation Plan: A step-by-step plan outlining the timeline, milestones, and responsible parties for each phase of the implementation.
  • Post-Implementation Support: Ongoing monitoring and support to ensure that the new print environment continues to operate efficiently and securely. 

Location Remarks and Delivery Requirements 

In setting up toner replacement automation for retail, precise location remarks are critical. Supplies are often delivered to distribution centers and then dispatched to individual stores. Remarks should use internal naming conventions easily understood by retail staff to ensure supplies reach the intended user and device. Special access requirements should also be included if necessary. 

Access to Devices 

During MPS implementation, the team will need to install drivers, update software, and install new printer management software. Arrangements should be made ahead of time to avoid costly delays. 

Synchronization and Alignment 

Retail organizations frequently update internal software, implement new systems, and roll out new solutions. This can conflict with MPS implementation, causing disruptions and delays. Close coordination between teams is essential. Develop an implementation schedule, prioritize stores in sequence, and designate IT freezes for locations undergoing MPS implementation. 

Understanding the Burden on the IT Team 

The IT team will welcome the MPS team, seeing the benefits of managed print services in the most tangible way. They will move from dealing with disparate systems and numerous contracts to one consolidated control dashboard. 
As CIO Online explains, consolidating these processes can significantly reduce IT workload and improve operational efficiency. Executives should bolster the IT team with additional personnel to allow key IT managers to focus on strategic coordination and decision-making. 

Understanding the Impact on Users 

Your employees are busy with their daily tasks and may disregard IT notices about the implementation. Effective communication protocols ensure users are aware of upcoming changes and prepared for them, leading to a smoother transition. According to Forbes, clear communication and user training are crucial for the successful adoption of new technologies. 


Key Strategies for Smooth Change Implementation

Adopt a Structured Change Management Approach 

Using frameworks like ADKAR (Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability, and Reinforcement) provides a structured approach to managing change. Set clear, measurable goals for the MPS implementation and establish realistic timelines for each phase. Assign specific responsibilities to team members to ensure accountability. 

Comprehensive Training and Support 

Before rolling out new software or equipment, provide thorough training tailored to different user needs. Post-implementation support, such as help desks or peer champions, can ease the transition and maintain morale. 

Monitor, Evaluate, and Adapt 

Continuous monitoring and evaluation allow for identifying issues as they arise. Implement feedback mechanisms to collect input from users regularly and establish performance metrics to evaluate the success of the MPS implementation.  

Print Fleet Right-Sizing 

Right sizing the print fleet involves ensuring the optimal number and type of devices are in place to meet the organization's needs without excess.

Key Steps Include:

Device Evaluation: 
The right MPS will conduct a thorough assessment of the current fleet to identify underutilized devices that are not meeting their full potential and overworked devices that are frequently used beyond their capacity. This evaluation should consider factors such as usage patterns, print volumes, and the specific functions required by different departments.

Optimize Placement:  
Standardly, our FlexTG technicians will then relocate or retire devices based on our assessment and a mutually agreed to implementation strategy, to balance workloads and improve efficiency. 

Our team will place devices strategically to ensure that high-usage areas have adequate capacity while low-usage areas are not burdened with unnecessary equipment. This step may involve moving underutilized devices to busier locations and retiring old or inefficient models. 

FlexTG does not believe in a “rip & replace” model. If your existing devices are serving your organization’s needs, we will seek to reduce implementation costs by keeping those units. That said, we often find there’s a benefit in standardizing a few models across the organization to simplify maintenance and reduce costs.  

By having a consistent set of device models, the organization can streamline training for users and IT staff, reduce the variety of consumables needed, and negotiate better terms for bulk purchases of equipment and supplies. 

The Right Device for the Right Location, the Right Job 

Selecting the right device for each location and task is crucial for optimizing efficiency and cost-effectiveness. For example: 

  • Lexmark for Retail Locations: Known for reliability and durability, making them ideal for high-traffic retail locations.
  • HP for Corporate Offices: Offer advanced features and high-quality outputs, suitable for corporate environments requiring high-volume and high-quality prints. 

Example Implementations in Retail 


Large Retail Chain 

A large retail chain with hundreds of locations implemented MPS to streamline its print operations. After a thorough assessment, the FlexTG implementation team consolidated devices, standardized print policies, and implemented a centralized management system, resulting in a 30% reduction in print-related costs and a significant improvement in device uptime. 

Specialty Retailer 

A specialty retailer with a high volume of print materials for marketing and promotions came to us seeking to optimize its print operations by implementing MPS. By introducing automated supply ordering and regular maintenance, we were able to bring them a 25% reduction in print costs and a 40% increase in device uptime. 

Grocery Store Chain 

A grocery store chain was seeking to reduce costs by streamlining print workflows and consolidating devices. Wary of cyber-attacks and data breaches, this grocery retailer also wanted to secure its printing operations.  

In implementing MPS for this retailer at multiple locations, we found several zero-print devices. We relocated these printers to offices with high print traffic. We found many devices with outdated firmware, thus exposed to cyberthreats. By addressing these dysfunctions and vulnerabilities, we delivered a 20% reduction in print costs, as well as enhanced overall security. 

Key Takeaways for Retail MPS Implementation 

Start with a Thorough Assessment 

Understanding your current print environment is crucial for successful implementation. This involves evaluating all devices, usage patterns, and identifying areas for improvement. A comprehensive assessment provides a clear picture of the current state and helps in planning the transition. 

Communicate Effectively 

Ensure all stakeholders are informed and on board with the changes to facilitate a smooth transition. Effective communication involves regular updates, clear explanations of benefits, and addressing concerns promptly. This helps in gaining buy-in from all levels of the organization. 

Provide Comprehensive Training 

Equip employees with the necessary knowledge and skills to use new systems effectively. Tailored training programs should address different user roles and ensure that everyone is comfortable with the new technology. Post-implementation support, such as help desks, can further assist in smoothing the transition. 

Monitor and Adapt 

Continuously monitor the implementation process, gather feedback, and make necessary adjustments to optimize print operations. Establish performance metrics to track progress and identify areas for improvement. Being flexible and responsive to feedback ensures the system remains effective. 

Right-Size the Print Fleet 

Ensure the optimal number and type of devices are in place to meet the organization's needs without excess. This involves assessing current devices, relocating or retiring underutilized ones, and standardizing a few models to simplify maintenance and reduce costs. 

Select the Right Devices for Each Location 

Choose devices that are best suited for the specific requirements of each location and task. For example, Lexmark devices are ideal for high-traffic retail locations due to their reliability and durability, while HP devices are better suited for corporate offices that require high-volume and high-quality prints. 

Improved, Secured, Standardized

Implementing managed print services in the retail sector requires careful planning, communication, and execution. By following the strategies outlined in this article, your retail organization can achieve a smooth transition to MPS, realizing significant benefits in terms of cost savings, efficiency, security, and sustainability. 

Reach out to our advisors for a print fleet assessment. Our recommendations can give you the roadmap you need for incremental improvements, OR, we’ll be happy to sit down and discuss the best approach for a move to a managed print operation. 

Once your print operation is improved, secured and standardized, you’ll notice something extraordinary – you’ll notice the quiet. Tickets reduced to nearly zero. IT support calls dropping dramatically. Operations running smoothly, renewables delivered magically to the right location at the right time. And you’ll ask yourself, how did you manage to go on for so long without us. 

Is it Time to Talk About Your Printer Fleet?

Request an assessment today to determine if your printer fleet is in need of upgrading. It’s a no-cost no-obligation conversation to determine the right solution for your company’s needs.

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