How To

How to Buy a Price Checking Terminal: Components & Regulations

By Alex Goodwin

May 16, 2018

Price checking terminals are a common fixture in brick-and-mortar retail. A well-positioned price checking device can bring important product information to customers’ fingertips, helping them make informed purchasing decisions for a smooth shopping experience. Price checkers also enable stores to reduce labeling costs, deliver additional product details, or highlight specials and promotions. In addition to the practical benefits to both shoppers and retailers, in-aisle price checkers are often mandated and regulated by state and local laws.

Here’s a quick rundown on important regulations and components of price checking terminals.

Laws and regulations

More than half of U.S. states have some form of law or regulation regarding product pricing. Often, this also means that under some conditions, a price checking kiosk—or “customer price scanner,” as they’re sometimes called—must be implemented. Grocery stores in Massachusetts, for example, that do not individually label each item are able to apply for a waiver, the granting of which would mean that the store could instead implement price checking terminals.

According to the Massachusetts law:

One scanner is required for every 5,000 square feet of food and grocery display space including the fully operational scanners capable of printing an individual price tag.

Michigan has similar requirements. State-level regulations around pricing and price checking can be difficult to locate and even more difficult to interpret. Here’s a good reference for the state by state breakdown on regulations. However, be aware that regulations change frequently so be sure to check with your local municipality for the latest requirements.  

Price checker visibility

Price checkers should be easy to locate within retail environments. In Massachusetts, the use of signs denoting the location of price checkers is built into state regulations. Massachusetts stores utilizing price check scanners are required to have “one clear and conspicuous sign at eye-level and one clear and conspicuous sign above eye level.”

Price checkers for the visually impaired

While the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) does not offer explicit instructions on the use of price check scanners for those with visual impairments, retailers should take note.

In 2016, Target was sued for not making their price checkers accessible to the visually impaired with the use of auxiliary aids. The suit, which was later dismissed, raises questions about the future of price checkers and accessibility.

To avoid purchasing price check solutions that may become ADA non-compliant, retailers should look to price checking technologies that can later be upgraded with auxiliary accessibility software at little extra cost.

Hardware and software components

Operating system

Price check scanners can run on multiple operating systems—Windows, Apple iOS, Android, and more. Operating systems each have their own strengths and weaknesses, covering areas like flexibility to security to ease-of-use.

Connectivity and device management

Price check scanners are commonly connected via Wireless LAN or Ethernet. Retailers will want to choose a price checker that is compatible with their existing network infrastructure.

Stores that utilize multiple devices can save time by implementing price checkers that can be managed remotely. Mobile device management solutions speed up workflows across network devices, making it simple to update and sync multiple price checkers from a single location.

Technical Specifications

RAM, processing power, and display resolution aren’t just important for personal computing and smartphones. Choosing a price checker that is powerful enough to handle future software upgrades and large applications will pay off in the long term.

Form factor

Design has seen a great deal of change in recent years. Legacy price checkers took up a large amount of floor space and had unwieldy user interfaces. These bulky systems often feel out of place in a modern retail environment.

A modern approach involves sleek, touchscreen interfaces without bulky, ATM-like casing. Floor space is valuable in retail. A modern price checker should be noticeable without taking up more space than necessary.

Signage

Price scanners typically exist in a busy retail environment. To be useful, a scanner needs to be visible to customers.  A best practice is to use overhead signage to indicate the location of in-aisle price checkers.

Scanning capabilities and expandability

Most retailers in the U.S. use the Universal Product Code (UPC) symbology. This one-dimensional (1D) barcode format has become the industry standard for scanning products. However, a number of other symbologies exist, each serving its own purpose.

A 2D symbology that has come into use more recently is the QR code. Used increasingly in marketing and retail, QR codes can be read at high speeds and are able to store large amounts of data compared to other symbologies. Their popularity has been solidified with the use of QR reader smartphone apps. Most notably, however, was the inclusion of native QR scanning on Apple iOS 11 without the need for downloading third-party apps.

Retailers seeking a price checking solution that won’t render itself obsolete in the coming years should consider its scanning technology. Your price check terminal should be able to grow with your business.

→Looking for more information on the wide world of barcodes? Check out this primer on common barcode symbologies.

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