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River Island – Duplex Thermal Printing

Reducing waste and improving accuracy in line with GDPR principles with Toshiba Tec Duplex Thermal Printers. River Island invest in Duplex Thermal Technology to drive faster processing speeds, reduce waste and make their operation fit for the future.

 As an agile and ambitious enterprise, River Island wanted to make their operation fit for the future.

River Island is a successful omnichannel retailer with a DC based in Milton Keynes fulfilling online orders across more than 70 packing benches. The 40,000 square metre DC split between 2 units is located on 23 acres at Magna Park, fulfilling on average over 125,000 online orders per week and growing., a division of, are the UK’s number one provider of end to end duplex thermal print and label solutions for fulfilment and ship from store and have earned a strong reputation as a business innovator.

With over 20 years’ experience of designing and implementing print and label solutions for various applications in the retail sector, the team recognised how effective duplex thermal printer solutions could be in an ecommerce operation and created a specialist division and website:

On the back of their success with shoe retailer Schuh, they approached River Island with a duplex thermal proposal in 2019 which would deliver faster processing speeds, reduce their waste and help them work more efficiently.

Before working with Duplex Thermal Printers, the team at River Island used two different printers at each workstation: a simplex direct thermal printer for the shipping labels and laser printer for despatch notes. This required three different consumables: direct thermal shipping labels for the thermal printer, despatch note paper with integrated return labels and laser toner cartridges to print them through the laser printer. There was also the waste from the thermal label backer to remove.

The laser printers were becoming increasingly unreliable, causing downtime and the purchase, storage and distribution of all the consumables was time consuming.

The laser printers were also bulky with running costs that were much higher due to the cost of toner cartridges and the amount of toner that is required to print quality barcodes. In addition to excessive power consumption, the high frequency of having to change toner cartridges and load despatch notes into infeed trays also resulted in wear and tear and reliability issues with the printers.

“It was a great opportunity for us to simplify this process, have fewer touches, deliver faster processing speeds and reduce waste. What’s more, we could gain further efficiencies using the fastship consumable by not enclosing paperwork with the order.” Amanda Gibson at Duplex Thermal Printers

The Toshiba DB-EA4D printers are compact, rugged and robust devices designed to provide a low-cost, easy to manage and environmentally friendly solution. They offer a reliable, efficient and easy-to-use alternative to traditional

single-sided printers, being faster and more environmentally friendly than laser printers using toner cartridges. The duplex thermal printer simultaneously prints on both sides of a two-sided label material at speeds of up to six inches per second, which dramatically reduces printing time.

The ‘fast-ship’ consumable was custom designed by the team at Duplex Thermal printers for River Island. It provides a shipping label and a tear bar to allow the customer to peel back and reveal their returns note including a Royal Mail returns label with adhesive, still maintaining a simple and convenient customer experience for returning an item. The fast-ship is an innovative label/document which can also be used for gift applications and to cross-sell and upsell on additional products or services.

“The fast-ship design is user friendly and the staff found it easy to handle. It also eliminates the risk of data ending up in the wrong place”, commented Fran Symons of River Island.

The new print solution has reduced errors and improved accuracy, eliminating the risk of mismatching returns note with shipping labels in line with GDPR principles. The auto feed functionality of the printer also makes it quick and easy to reload.

Thanks to the agile and dedicated IT Scrum team efforts with integration at River Island and after carrying out trials with the new printers, they reported immediate and significant improvements:

  • The despatch note became a returns note and reduced to a third of its original size
  • Lower overhead costs by using one printer instead of two
  • Less manual handling and print processing time was halved

This was a crucial boost to their operation and the decision was made to go live with the solution at the start of November 2019 ready for the Black Friday sales and ahead of the Christmas shopping season. In addition to operational efficiencies, this has also had a significant environmental impact on their operation.

“This is the first time we have had all the workstation printers fully operational through peak. The laser printers were prone to jamming and other faults that took them temporarily out of service. Staff loved the simplicity of the Toshiba printer.”- said Fran Symons of River Island.

“The solution recommended to us by Duplex Thermal Printers has helped us cover the middle ground between going paperless and the full despatch note”, observed Fran Symons, River Island. “We wanted to reduce waste and still provide a convenient returns experience and the fastship allowed us to achieve that.”

“This is a versatile high-performance printer that is affordable but most importantly is very reliable in mission critical operations” explains Amanda Gibson at Duplex Thermal Printers. “It is a tried and tested solution which delivers low running costs and has excellent environmental credentials. To hear that workstation uptime was 100% at River Island as a result of our solution, was very rewarding.”

“The DB-EA4D has a small footprint only 24cm x 20cm, this frees up space on the workstation and having just one consumable to reload makes it user-friendly for staff and super quick and easy to maintain. The duplex labels are in fan folded stacks of 750 at the back of the printer, which means less frequent media changes and less manual handling. In this particular case it resulted in 66% less purchasing, storage and distribution of consumables.” – said Julian Pickford, Director at

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About Toshiba Tec

Toshiba Tec Corporation is part of the Toshiba Group, active in various high-tech industrial sectors. Toshiba Tec Corporation is a leading provider of information technology products with many applications in industry, logistics, commerce, healthcare and services. With headquarters in Japan and over 80 subsidiaries worldwide, Toshiba Tec Corporation helps organisations transform the way they create, record, share, manage and display information.

Toshiba Tec UK Imaging Systems Ltd. is part of the globally operating Toshiba Tec Corporation. The product range includes printers and multifunctional systems, and effective document management software solutions. Innovative digital signage solutions and label printers with a wide-range of industrial, logistics, trade healthcare and service sector applications round off the product range. Toshiba Tec UK Imaging Systems Ltd’s HQ is in Chertsey, Surrey.

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