Customers use a self-scanning checkout solution at a bakery
By Richard Thompson | January 05, 2021

The Top OEM Solutions for Social Distancing (and Customer Satisfaction) in 2021

There are four key growth opportunities for OEMs this year, each of which is designed to bring joy to consumers and prosperity to industries.

The coronavirus pandemic has driven change across the globe at a pace we’ve never seen before. But with change comes opportunity.

The need to reduce physical touchpoints is naturally leading to creative thinking on how to conduct business as usual in a socially distanced manner, whilst protecting supply chains and dwindling revenue streams. A key tool in answering this challenge is technology. But even though technology can be an enabler, developing the right solution takes time, and right now, time is not on our side.

The good news is that original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are ideally placed to provide a quick solution to this challenge. For example, there are several opportunities for OEMs around contactless technologies, including:

Restaurant ordering kiosks

Social distancing has increased the desire to avoid manned payment points in favour of self-service options. The technology has been there for some time, but the pandemic has forced restaurants to turn to self-service technology to provide consumers with what may be considered a safer option, instead of placing an order face-to-face with a server or cashier.

Irrespective of the need to socially distance, there are many other additional benefits of implementing self-service kiosks, and restaurants will reap the rewards for years to come.

  • Increased revenues – ordering through a kiosk is proven to lead to increased food orders and offers upsell opportunities such as ‘super-size your meal’ at the touch of a button.
  • Reduced customer wait time – kiosks reduce the time it takes to place an order, increasing throughput and reducing customer wait time, making fast food faster and safer!
  • Quicker order processing – restaurants can redeploy staff so they can focus on delivery and improved customer experience.

Get the quick service restaurant application brief>

Self-service ticketing solutions

With major events such as music concerts, sporting events and theatre productions still on hold across most of the globe due to COVID-19, the events industry is preparing for a new normal. There had been an increase in self-service ticketing solutions due to legislation to curb ticket touts and requirements for increased security. And the challenge of maintaining social distancing and making customers feel safe is yet another push factor toward the adoption of self-service ticketing solutions.

These solutions can be used in any setting where a ticket can be issued (parking, cinemas, train stations and airports) and whilst the immediate benefit of social distancing is at the forefront of everyone’s minds now, there are so many more benefits, from speeding up queues to improved customer experience with RFID-enabled wristbands, and data intelligence with the emergence of de-anonymised tickets.

Get the ticketing application brief>

Digital gaming innovations

Betting shops, casinos and hotels with gambling facilities have also suffered from prolonged closures due to COVID-19. Barcode innovations had already started to present some interesting opportunities for this sector to improve customer experience, from personalised offers and recommendations to the collection of high levels of business intelligence that enable gaming providers to learn and accommodate guest preferences. And since the pandemic began, self-service kiosks and scanning technologies have started providing additional support in dealing with the requirements for social distancing, including:

Betting kiosks that reduce face-to-face customer service.

  • Guest-specific barcodes that can track movement and spend, enabling casinos and hotels to personalise their service and maximise on cross-selling opportunities. If you can’t welcome as many customers through the doors, you need to maximise the selling opportunities with the ones you’ve got.
  • The enablement of cashless payments for everything from catering to stake top-ups, thereby reducing the use of potentially germ-infested cash.
  • Compliance with government-defined test and trace requirements where applicable and where permissions allow.

Get the gaming application brief>

Buy online, pick up in store

Coronavirus has led to an explosion in demand to buy online and pick up in store (BOPIS) and suppliers are struggling to keep up, as my colleagues have spoken about extensively on the Your Edge blog in recent months. Some may say this demand is inextricably linked to COVID-19 and the fear of cross-contamination in stores, but recent surveys have suggested that whilst the pandemic may have accelerated growth, consumers are overwhelmingly claiming they will continue to buy online even after the pandemic is over.

View the full report from Zebra’s latest Global Shopper Study>

Save time (for everyone) by choosing a fast-to-market OEM solution

The key to maximising any of these opportunities is speed. You need to create technologies that matter now and will remain relevant well into the future – and you need to do it fast. I hope you’ll consider partnering with Zebra to execute your vision and meet your customers’ requirements. We have a comprehensive range of industry-leading OEM technologies that allow you to meet changing demands without delay and gain a competitive advantage that can see you through the dark days of this pandemic into a more positive, successful tomorrow.

To discuss your OEM requirements, contact Zebra. We can help you find the perfect scan engine for your innovation to support success in a changing world.

How Zebra OEM solutions can help you achieve your business goals on time and on budget.
Manufacturing, Warehouse and Distribution, Innovative Ideas, Transportation and Logistics, Retail, Hospitality, Public Sector, Banking,
Richard Thompson
Richard Thompson

Richard Thompson is the Global Director of Sales for the OEM business within Zebra Technologies which in turn is part of Zebra’s Global Sales & Services organisation. Richard is responsible for the sales of key component technologies which Zebra manufactures and sells to a hugely diverse range of customers around the world who build these components into their own final products. 

He has a team of 40 specialist sales and support people around the world. 

Richard has worked in the IT & Telecommunications Industry for almost 30 years and has held sales, management and senior management rolls in a number of global organisations, including Elcom International, Symbol Technologies, Panasonic Computer Products, General Dynamics and Motorola Solutions. Prior to his current role within Zebra he ran the OEM Business with in EMEA and prior to that the Government and Public Sector business and the Mobile Carrier partners business for Zebra in the UK & Ireland. He has also sat on the board of several industry bodies and charities. 


Richard is married with two children aged 16 and 19 and lives in Worcestershire, UK. 

He is a keen advocate of diversity and collaboration in the workplace. 

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