What Is a Barcode Scanner?
A barcode scanner is a device used to read barcodes. Most businesses buy scanners for use during the checkout process. However, as we’ve discussed, they are also used for inventory management, whether that’s in your store or within a larger warehouse setting.
Types of Barcode Scanners
There are many different scanners and scanning technologies on the market today. The most commonly used variants consist of a red light source or laser that reads the data from barcode labels and feeds it into the POS system. The technical name for a scanning device that uses lasers is a Charge Coupled Device, also called a CCD reader or CCD scanner.
However, recent technological advances now allow smartphones to function as barcode readers through their camera functionality. One typical example of this in action happens in Apple’s retail stores. If you order something for in-store pickup, you’ll get an email that includes a QR code. Once you get to the store, an employee will scan this code to look up your order so that your purchase can be brought out to you.
On the consumer side, you’ll find this functionality used in retail apps to facilitate online shopping. Department stores like Macy’s and Target give the customers the option to scan items while in-store to check prices and look for deals. Similarly, Amazon app users can scan the barcode of any item around them to look it up and purchase it from Amazon.
1D and 2D Scanners
The scanners that retail businesses typically use fall into two major categories: One-dimensional (1D) and two-dimensional (2D). 1D scanners are the more traditional model. They can scan the standard barcodes you’re most familiar with. 2D scanners, however, can scan both barcodes and more complicated codes like QR codes. The one you choose depends on the type of codes you want to use, as well as your budget.
Why Use a Barcode Scanner?
Who wants to type in all those numbers by hand? Scanners save a significant amount of time for the cashier and the customer. A cashier can easily scan barcodes to checkout customers much faster than they could otherwise. They also help eliminate errors by preventing a cashier from accidentally typing in the wrong code or price. This combination of speed and accuracy is essential in a retail industry that’s overflowing with options. If you can’t deliver the level of service your customers expect, then they’ll shop elsewhere. Barcodes and scanners might not be the first things you think of when you hear customer service, but they do deliver.
What Kind of Barcode Scanner is Best?
The kind of reader you choose depends on the type of business you run. Scanners connected to a POS system via cords are cheaper than ones that connect over Bluetooth. They make sense if a cashier is standing in one place for long periods of time.
However, a Bluetooth reader is the better choice in a space where movement is limited. A cordless scanner is also helpful if you sell large or heavy items. Your cashier can scan items without having to lift or move the object around to get at the barcode. If you aren’t sure which is right for you, most modern POS suppliers like SoluWise have a variety of scanner options and accessories available to choose from based on your unique needs.
As far as 1D vs. 2D, 1D scanners are best for traditional linear barcodes, but be aware of what that could mean for your business. If your target audience is a younger, tech-savvy crowd, or if you give customers the option of emailed receipts, a 2D scanner might be better. These scanners can read barcodes and QR codes directly from your customers’ smartphone screens. This allows you to use these codes in your marketing and customer outreach for promotions and sales. This can help you track the performance of these promotions because your POS or marketing tool will record each scan of the promo code.
Lastly, each reader has different setup instructions, and not all are compatible with every POS system. If you already have a POS system, be sure to buy a scanner that’s compatible with it.
All of this can seem complicated at first glance, but understanding barcodes and how to integrate them into your business can make things easier on you, your management team, and your front-line staff. They enable faster checkouts, more efficient inventory management capabilities, and highly trackable promotional campaigns. If you’re new to retail, no one’s saying that you need to institute personalized QR codes immediately or buy a 2D scanner out of the gate. But adding basic barcodes to your products will almost certainly make a world of difference to your overall success.
SoluWise has all types of Barcode Scanners suited to various application & environments.
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