You may not have heard of Merley Paper Converters, the receipt marketing solutions providers, who were exhibitors at the 2011 Retail Business Technology Expo, and return to the show next year.

But if you’ve shopped at Dorothy Perkins in the past year and your receipt highlighted Breast Cancer Care, you’ve visited Harrods and your receipt highlighted their famous January Sale or bought something at a National Trust site and seen details on the Giant’s Causeway, you’ve seen Promeroll, Merley’s industry leading promotional till rolls, in action.

Promeroll’s unique strength lies in its ability to help retailers turn plain white till rolls into colourful mini-posters, which provide massive support for their different retail sales channels and marketing calendars. Merley had some more major breakthroughs in the past year running free initial trials with various retailers who wanted to prove Promeroll’s ROI before running a full campaign.

Merley are also very excited about the imminent 2012 launch of their latest product, Promeroll Plus, which will utilise the latest HD printing plates along with image-enhancing ink technology boosting Promeroll images to a new level. Combined with the ability to print QR (Quick Response) codes, this will make Promeroll receipts even more impactful.

Barry Jones, Merley Paper Converters’ Sales Director, spoke to The Grocery Trader.

GT – Barry, when was Merley Paper Converters founded? Who owns it now?

The original business was founded in 1984, and incorporated in its present form in 1990. The owners are the directors, led by myself and Allan Dyson, Managing Director.

GT – Where is Merley based?

We are based in Corby, Northants.

GT – How big is Merley by turnover and client numbers? How fast are you growing?

We have a turnover of £5.5m per annum and in excess of 150 clients. Our print business, including Promeroll, has grown in the last few years and now exceeds 70% of our annual turnover.

GT – How big a part of your business is receipt marketing? Which other activities are you involved in?

Promeroll alone accounts for 80% of our print business and is growing every year. Our other products include plain printer rolls, computer consumables and self adhesive labels, including Maxstick, the world’s first liner-free, repositionable thermal label range.

GT – How does receipt marketing work?

The principle behind receipt marketing is very simple. Every receipt the retailer generates is an opportunity to ‘communicate’ with the customer, on a one to one basis.

GT – Where do you rank among UK suppliers of promotional till rolls?

We’re number one by a long way. We were the first to offer enhanced full colour receipt printing, with photo quality capabilities.

GT – Why come to Merley for a receipt marketing solution?

Merley is the UK’s number one supplier of promotional till rolls, and we pride ourselves on our flexibility, quality and innovation, working with multiple and independent retailers to turn their plain till rolls into marketing mini posters.

GT – What is your main product for use in receipt marketing? How does it work?

Our main receipt marketing product is Promeroll, pronounced ‘Pro–Mer–Roll.’ Exclusively available from Merley, this is a promotional receipt roll, which we supply pre-printed with the client’s marketing and brand messages. Promerolls are designed for use in standard 80mm thermal printers. They are very cost effective, as each roll carries messages to support up to 350 or more 200 mm transactions.

GT – What are the USP’s of Promeroll?

Promeroll offers value for money, high impact messaging. We take plain reels of thermal till roll paper and bring them to life by printing colourful receipts which can include high quality picture images, giving retail staff, at store level, the opportunity to hand deliver “good news” to their customers by means of money off vouchers and promotional offers.

Promeroll delivers messages that customers take home, which helps produce industry leading results. Promeroll is all about creating transactional theatre: retailers can use their existing EPOS printers to produce mini posters without any technology changes. All they need to do is change the printer rolls, which is good news in these difficult times.

Promeroll is also fantastic for delivering QR codes, the characteristic digital images which are increasingly appearing in the retail environment and help mobile users land on a specific page of the retailers website by simply scanning the code with their mobile device.

GT – Can you produce full colour till rolls?

Yes, we can. We can make the till rolls as colourful as the customer wants. We can print a maximum of six colours on the reverse non-thermal face to picture quality, and one colour on the front. We can also flood colour the till rolls on both sides, which is another way Promerolls can totally change their appearance and impact.

GT – There have been ads on the back of parking tickets and so on for years. How is Promeroll different?

The retailer has the facility of delivering quality branded messages addressing the specific customers they want to reach. They achieve this by using their EPOS printers in targeted geographical areas, whether on a national, regional or individual shop level.

GT – How do you see Promerolls fitting into the strategy of major multiple grocers?

A multiple grocer can use Promeroll in their superstores, c-stores and forecourts to highlight monthly promotions, corporate messages and show support for their chosen charities. They can even create an income stream by carrying third party advertising on the reverse of their till rolls.

GT – Can you tell us about the companies you work with?

As you mentioned in your introduction, we produce receipt marketing solutions for all sorts of companies, from Dorothy Perkins to the National Trust.  We also work with Harrods on a monthly basis, to support their ‘in store’ promotions.

GT – Were the Dorothy Perkins Breast Cancer till rolls available nationally? What was involved in setting that up?

Promeroll was chosen by Dorothy Perkins’ marketing team, based in London, to support their Breast Cancer campaign at national level.

GT – What kind of artwork files do you work with?

We work with EPS and Illustrator files. We also have the facility, via our own FTP site, to allow our customers to send us their large artwork files, which we then use to help them layout their Promeroll Marketing receipts.

GT – Do you have a creative studio for clients who want you to originate their artwork?

Yes, we do. We have an ‘in house’ creative studio, which can offer advice on design, layout and print. This also gives us the ability to help our customers keep their design costs and Promeroll lead times to a minimum and ensure we can hit their tight in-store dates.

GT – What’s the turnaround time on Promerolls?

The turnaround from approval of signed off artwork to delivery averages two to four weeks, although we have had to complete jobs much quicker when the need arises.

GT – Which other industry sectors do you supply Promeroll to?

We supply Promerolls for use in self-service kiosks serving the hospitality, travel and gaming sectors.

GT – How many Promeroll campaigns are you running per year in the UK?

Promeroll has significantly grown in popularity in the last 12 months, and we are now running approximately 200 campaigns a year, from 50 three years ago. We have helped retailers realise the power of receipt marketing by understanding their DNA and working with them to deliver this individuality to their customers. We want to be one of the core services that retailers use in their basket of marketing activities and ensure they achieve their goals and ROI targets.

GT – Which other countries do you operate in?

We are also working in the USA. We’ve had a presence there since 2007, and have recently taken on a new partner, Max International based in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Starting in January 2012, we will also be working with the UK Trade & Investment Department, based in New York, on a new campaign to promote Promeroll to even more retailers in the USA.

GT – How are you organised to service the major UK retailers and your other customers’ requirements?

We have a specialist UK sales team, who are experts in Promeroll and see each customer as an individual with their own marketing DNA and aims. We hold meetings with the retailer and review their needs, and Merley can also provide free Promerolls for use in a targeted trial in order to initially prove Promeroll’s ROI. Our team works with the retailers’ marketing department to ensure we have a full understanding of their promotional needs.

GT – How do you avoid wastage?

We advise the retailer to include some T&C’s on the reverse of the Promerolls, these can highlight such things as:

1. This reciept cannot be used with any other offers.

2. This reciept is valid for a specific period, triggered by the date of the transaction printed by the EPOS printer.

This enables the retailer to use the rolls whenever they want and ensures no waste.

GT – The biggest challenge with Promeroll must be getting the shopper to notice the receipt. How do you do that?

We encourage the retailers to carry out additional training with their shop colleagues, to help them understand how to use Promeroll marketing receipts. They are encouraged to talk to their customers about the offers and also to present the receipt offer side up, which helps boost the effectiveness of the promotions. The key is, they’re not selling, they are making their customers aware of the offers and passing on this “good news.”

GT – Can you use Promeroll for local, short campaigns with short runs? What’s the minimum quantity for a campaign?

You can use Promeroll for very specific campaigns indeed. Retailers can target the activity down to individual store level. Our minimum Promeroll run will support 56,000 x 200mm transactions, equivalent to just 140, 80mm Promerolls. Our ability to support retailers, no matter how small, has ensured that Promeroll has become one of the most effective marketing products used in the retail environment today.

GT – Can you produce fragranced Promerolls and what kind?

We have manufactured scented rolls for Harrods, which supported their ‘Senses’ promotion, ensuring that each customer took home a poignant reminder of their retail experience. We are able to turn any fragrance into a printable scented media.

GT – What do you think awareness and understanding of your services is like in the UK retail sector?

We have successfully promoted Promeroll by exhibitions, referrals, advertising and ‘knocking on doors.’ What’s different about us is, we are not just selling receipt rolls, we’re offering a real assessment of retailers’ marketing needs and presenting workable solutions.

GT – Have you got statistics for the effectiveness of Promeroll campaigns?

We know they work, but customers are reluctant to share their data for commercial reasons. One national leisure industry retailer, informed us that they redeemed nearly 30,000 vouchers in a four-week campaign, a redemption rate of over 11%, which is far higher than previous promotions and way above the industry norm.

GT – What work are you currently doing with retailers and third party advertisers on advertising for specific brands in particular stores?

Our specialist team works closely with the retailers’ marketing departments in order to fully understand their marketing campaign needs, including message distribution and promotional timings. Most retailers initially intend to sell the advertising space on the reverse of their till rolls to their suppliers, but once we have explained the true value of the space, they quickly change their minds and use it exclusively for their own brand awareness and promotional activity.

GT – You exhibited at the Retail Business Technology Expo (RBTE) in March 2011. What were you showing on your stand, and how did it go?

It went exceptionally well and generated at least 25 major leads, and convinced us to rebook for 2012. At next year’s show we will be providing free Promerolls to the Star, Epson and Citizen stands for use in their EPOS thermal printers. Each Promeroll will be pre-printed with the company’s corporate USP’s on the reverse and company logo on the front, in order to promote individual product and corporate awareness to all their stand visitors.

GT – Where do you see receipt marketing as a marketing discipline, going from here?

We see it going wherever the retailers want to take it: don’t think of receipts as till printouts, more as a way of placing marketing messages into the hands of their customers! Receipt marketing will be used in more and more environments as thermal printer technology keeps developing.

GT – Finally, what are your plans for Merley’s receipt marketing services going forwards?

As a company we continuously review our customers’ needs, and look to bring new solutions to the market all the time. Our customers’ advise us that the need for new dynamic receipt printing is more essential than ever in order to enable them to meet the increasing demands of retailing in the 21st century.

Merley Paper Converters Ltd

Tel: 01536 274273

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