Insights

How Scanning Enables In-Store Digital Innovation

By Aila Staff

April 5, 2018

In an age where smartphone-connected consumers are demanding interactive shopping experiences in-store, next-gen scanning technology is integral to innovation in the brick-and-mortar environment.

Scanning—of barcodes, QR codes, and IDs—connects physical and digital assets, bringing information from the physical world online. It is the simplest, most efficient, most proven technology for doing this, and it enables myriad solutions that improve the brick-and-mortar retail experience.

Scanning is what allows retailers to create apps that customers can use in-store, giving customers the ability to connect physical products with online loyalty programs or smartphone-oriented experiences. It’s what gives in-aisle kiosks the means of delivering real-time pricing, personalized offers, and inventory and product information. It enables shoppers to sync their own devices with in-store kiosks, digital touchpoints, and payment systems.

In short, scanning is the easiest path to digital innovation in-store.

Demand for scanning and QR codes on the rise

In tandem with the unlocking of new experiences, scanning is also gaining adoption among consumers. Smartphones are increasingly utilized as scanning-enabled devices, and consumers are realizing the ease and benefits of this technology.

Starbucks is one example of a retailer tapping into consumer demand: its very popular mobile app features special offers, a gamified loyalty program (for each purchase, customers receive stars which can then be redeemed) and mobile order and pay. With the Starbucks app, you can use your smartphone to scan a Starbucks card and upload it to your rewards account. Or to use the app for in-store payments, the payment screen displays a barcode that is scanned by a barista at the checkout counter. The Dunkin’ Donuts app offers similar payment functionality for fast, cashless in-store transactions, only the Dunkin’ app uses a QR code rather than a barcode.

Retailers aren’t relying exclusively on BYOD (bring your own device), either; Walmart, Kroger and other retailers are also providing dedicated mobile scanning devices for consumers to use in-store. In addition to handhelds, many retailers utilize in-aisle scanning kiosks for a wide array of innovative workflows that can assist both customers and retail associates. 

The broader utilization of QR codes, due in part to Apple including QR code reader functionality on the latest iOS for iPads, iPhones and iPods, is a significant factor for driving scanning demand. More than 1.3 billion QR code coupons were redeemed via mobile phones last year, according to Juniper Research. The study predicts that more than 5 billion QR code coupons will be redeemed by more than 1 billion mobile devices by 2022.

In addition to using QR codes for payments, some retailers are utilizing QR codes for innovative, gamified in-store experiences. Tied in with the launch of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Disney and Lucasfilm teamed up with Target, Best Buy, Walmart and other retailers for an augmented reality treasure hunt. After downloading a special app, fans visited a participating store, searched for a “Find the Force” logo and then scanned it to reveal characters from the movie in augmented reality. Strategies like these help drive customers to download and use retail apps; they also drive in-store traffic.

Scanning unlocks omnichannel retail experiences

While single-purpose scanners are still core components in traditional checkout and inventory management processes, leading physical retailers are heeding consumers’ demands by expanding their interactive capabilities in-store. And those new experiences largely rely upon multifunctional scanning devices—again, both in front of and behind the counter.

Walmart, Best Buy, Starbucks, and Stop & Shop and many other retailers are paving the way with new scanning technology for an omnichannel retail experience. And the capabilities of scanning for consumers in retail is bright: from detailed product information and captivating loyalty programs to innovative augmented reality apps which add a digital layer to brick-and-mortar interactions.

Accurate multifunctional scanning technology is available at the consumer level. Retailers that leverage this technology in-app and in-store are delivering the efficient, personalized retail shopping experience that consumers are increasingly demanding.

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