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Epson’s OmniLink TM-T88VI printer

Epson’s OmniLink TM-T88VI printer

TECHNOLOGY

Epson Finds Universe of New Uses in POS Technologies and the Cloud

The pace for updating business software is unrelenting. Unless retailers employ a chief information officer, it’s impossible to keep up, according to Mauricio Chacon, group product manager, business systems group, Epson America, Inc., headquartered in Long Beach, Calif.

Instead of a CIO, Epson hopes to help retailers manage their retail tech with its new cloud service, Epson OmniLink Merchant Services 3.0. It was formally introduced July 29 at the RetailNOW 2019 conference in San Antonio, Texas. Epson’s OMS and the machines working with this cloud are part of a larger direction in retail technology, which includes a greater reliance on getting information from the cloud and using machines such as point-of-sales systems to help manage operations at a retail company.

“[Retailers] need an honest broker that captures information and makes it available to them,” Chacon said of OMS. With this cloud, retailers can download software for customer-relations management, inventory management and fraud management, among other functions

The cloud service will be accessed through Epson’s point-of-sale system, OmniLink TM-T88VI single-station thermal-receipt printer. This POS system also can be used to wrangle information about a company’s performance, sales and other information.

The apps distributed by this cloud are developed by third-party groups. Epson currently works with 30 groups providing software for POS systems, said Matt Steiger, strategy and business development, for Epson’s cloud. Epson hopes to increase the number of services its cloud offers, according to a company statement.

“Epson can utilize data from most major POS providers. As more POS systems enter the market, Epson continues to develop technology to support the data needs of retailers,” according to a company statement.

OMS leverages the Epson OmniLink TM-T88VI receipt printer, which extracts data from receipts. The printer then sends data to the OMS cloud, which converts it to an industry-standard data format and then makes it available to business-application services. Retailers select cloud-based software applications on a subscription basis and use those business-intelligence tools through a browser or mobile app.

Using apps and programs to manage various back-office tasks is a crucial part of running a retail company, said John Deery, a senior retail technology consultant for One Step Retail Solutions, headquartered in Phoenix, whose company has sold new Epson receipt printers.

A company doesn’t specifically need to depend on something like a cloud-management system to maintain and update programs, Deery said, but if the company is engaged in e-commerce or omni-channel commerce, there is no choice but to work with retail tech in some way. Those who don’t employ a cloud service would have to find other ways of managing technology.

“That could mean hiring a chief information officer,” Deery said. “It’s $100,000 just to get this guy on board.” Epson executives Chacon and Steiger declined to say how much their service cost. They did say it costs thousands of dollars compared to the millions of dollars that would be required to maintain an information technology department.

The cloud is one way the retail-tech market is changing. It is also growing through an expansion of the capabilities and uses of POS systems, Deery said. “Point-of-sale systems have morphed into commerce systems. They used to be just physical registers. They are now much more than that,” he said. Rather, these machines can handle different retail-management systems.

Epson said that its POS systems could be defined as “intelligent receipt printers.” They can crunch data gleaned from customer receipts and handle analytics that could assist with marketing. They could also be used in operations management and billing tasks, according to Epson.

Retail printers are forecast to become a growth market, according to a study by tech market researchers Future Market Insights. It forecast that the market for these printers will reach half a billion dollars by 2026.