Enhancing cloud integrations and order traceability are vital to improve efficiency
On the tailwinds of an exceptional 2018, mobile thermal barcode printer vendors are seeing slower upgrade cycles from Tier I enterprises and are contending with significant pricing pressure from low cost manufacturers, according to new global market analysis by VDC Research. Across verticals, end users are adopting mobile printer technologies to enhance printing flexibility on the go. Improving order traceability and enhancing the mobile point of sale (mPOS) will be key drivers of mobile printer hardware investments going forward.
The Americas contributed significantly to 2018 growth for mobile thermal printers, increasing 25% year-over-year. Through the first half of 2019, however, vendors faced a softer business climate for mobile printer hardware as slower growth in North America weighed heavily on the broader global market. “As the boost from Android operating upgrades in mobile computer wanes, vendors are looking to healthcare and public safety to attract investment opportunities through the first two quarters of 2019,” said Michael Clarke, AutoID & Data Capture Analyst at VDC. VDC’s research shows that despite the corrective decline in the Americas, APAC and EMEA maintained healthy growth through the first half of 2019. Many Asian based vendors such as Bixolon, Toshiba TEC, Star Micronics, and Fujitsu continue to apply competitive pressure on market leaders in this highly competitive market.
The retail and logistic segments will be key areas of growth for mobile thermal printer investments, according to VDC’s research. “While these segments will continue to account for the majority of mobile printer shipments, vendors are increasingly looking to smaller, yet higher growth, segments such as healthcare and public safety to attract investment opportunities,” said Clarke. Ecommerce will drive further adoption of mobile thermal printers in warehouse, logistics, and manufacturing environments. At the same time, omnichannel strategies such as click and collect and ship-from-store are spurring demand in-store to support better inventory accuracy as well as on the back end to facilitate product traceability. Omnichannel retail expansion is driving mobile printer investments as the role of brick and mortar stores shifts towards fulfillment centers.
Key vendors are looking to the cloud to extend mobile printer device effectiveness. “Strengthening cloud data storage, exchange, and security across devices is becoming increasingly important as companies look to digitize their workflows,” explained Clarke. Cloud features such as remote management, performance metrics monitoring, and predictive maintenance are increasing deployment efficiency of mobile printer hardware. Vendors are also strategically leveraging the cloud in order to improve ongoing maintenance and extend printer functionality.
As competition in this fragmented market intensifies, vendors must adapt their product offerings to support a growing mobile workforce. VDC’s recent survey of 200 end users found that product features such as short battery life and poor connectivity are critical pain points that impact investment decisions. “End users across verticals are increasingly demanding automated features in order to increase the efficiency of their mobile associates,” said Clarke. “Many vendors are investing to develop proprietary multiple device management (MDM) platforms to enhance their revenue streams, while others are looking to integrate payment capture features as a point of differentiation.”
About VDC Research | VDC Research provides in-depth insights to technology vendors, end users, and investors across the globe. Offering syndicated reports and custom consultations, VDC’s market research coverage of AutoID & Data Capture, Enterprise Mobility & Connected Devices, Industrial Automation & Sensors, and IoT & Embedded Technologies is among the most advanced in the industry, helping clients make critical decisions with confidence. VDC’s methodologies consistently provide accurate forecasts and unmatched thought leadership for deeply technical markets. For more information, visit vdcresearch.com.