Tastykake looked at a number of different printing solutions and found that the RW 420™ from Zebra Technologies was one of the few mobile printers that were rugged and met IP54 dust and water resistance ratings, making it appropriate for use in direct store delivery. Tastykake selected three printers to compare and put them in the hands of route drivers for testing. For comparison, drivers tested each printer for two weeks. At the end, they rated the printers against each other on a scale of 1-5, with 5 the top score. Across five key indicators, Zebra® printers earned an average score of 4.6, while the incumbent printers earned a score of 3.0.
"We gave drivers the choice and they chose Zebra nearly unanimously," O'Malley said. Although drivers preferred Zebra, O'Malley was concerned about printer compatibility with existing handheld applications—especially given the number of routes the company runs. If upgrades affected the integration between computers and printers, complications in the field could outweigh the benefits of switching.
However, Zebra offered emulation firmware that greatly simplified the transition. Centrategy, a Zebra partner, created the custom firmware for Zebra, allowing Zebra printers to talk to Tastykake applications.
"The emulation firmware allows the Zebra RW 420s to act just like our old printer. The applications don't know the difference," O'Malley said. "It was a lot more straightforward and less expensive. We were able to roll out the new printers with no impact to applications. It was the simplest rollout we've ever done. That firmware was absolutely critical to our decision to switch to Zebra."