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Improving the labelling landscape

As one of the UK’s leading chains of garden centres, Dobbies is always looking to improve its operational effectiveness, which is why it is utilising Toshiba TEC’s mobile printing technology across its stores.

the B-EP4DL four-inch portable device offers big printer technology in the smallest possible package
The B-EP4DL four-inch portable device offers big printer technology in the smallest possible package

In 1865, James Dobbie set up J Dobbie Choice Seeds & Flowers of Renfrew and his business soon flourished – creating a legacy that now incorporates 35 stores across the UK, with over 2,700 staff.

In 2008, the company became part of Tesco and with the parent company’s backing and support, Dobbies continues to thrive.

With an ever-expanding inventory that is designed to appeal to the latest tastes in gardening and related areas, clear and easy to read labelling is a major factor in the creation of a high quality customer experience. Karen Canavan, Loss Prevention Manager at Dobbies, explains, “With such a diverse range, we want our customers to be able to identify the prices of goods quickly and easily. What’s more, plants by their very nature can have a short shelf life, so any discounts and price reductions need to be clearly marked in order to make sure that stock isn’t wasted.”

Dobbies used to rely upon an office based printing device in each store that would involve employees manually transferring information to and from the plant, product or shelf being labelled. This was not only time consuming and involved a lot of legwork, but the finished label was often less than satisfactory.

Making a change

Recognising that something needed to be done to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of this process, Toshiba TEC was brought in to explain the available options.

“We have had a successful working relationship with Toshiba TEC for many years,’ says Canavan. ‘I’d already heard about the advances in mobile printing and labelling technology and felt that this would tick many of the boxes in terms of increasing resource efficiency, enhancing overall accuracy and avoiding mistakes. We knew that Tesco had adopted a similar system, so felt there was much to gain from such an investment.”

Alan Fisher, IT Applications Analyst at Dobbies, was introduced to the project, as he would be responsible for managing the devices on a day-to-day basis. “After hearing about the impressive range of products available, Toshiba TEC allowed us to assess and trial a number of them, so that we could see what worked best for us. After completing this process we decided to opt for the B-EP4DL portable printer.”

On the move

Compact and stylish, the B-EP4DL four-inch portable device offers big printer technology in the smallest possible package. Designed to provide ultimate reliability and superior print quality on the move, it utilises high endurance lithium-ion battery technology to ensure many hours of operation. With a clear backlit LCD screen, the devices are Wi-Fi enabled and come with USB 2.0 supplied as standard. Ruggedness is vital for portable handheld products and the in-built rubber corners can easily withstand being dropped from heights up to 1.8m.

“We have rolled out the B-EP4DL devices so that there are typically three per store,’ states Canavan. ‘The effect has been quite dramatic in terms of productivity and staff now spend much less time labelling each product, with an improved end result. It has also made a big difference to how we manage stock inventory.”

Other ways of using the B-EP4DL devices are being discovered. Dobbies can now easily print labels to indicate discounts and reductions and incorporate this information into the barcodes. These labels look far more aesthetically pleasing, are clearer for customers to read, save employees significant amounts of time and reduce wastage.

Onwards and upwards

The introduction of a state-of-the-art mobile printing solution has exceeded all expectations and Karen Canavan concludes, “The B-EP4DL is helping us to work faster and smarter. Not only that, the devices have proven to be highly reliable, robust and durable in what is a pretty physical environment. To cap it all, when it’s needed we know that we have excellent support and back-up from Toshiba TEC.”


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