Insights

Why Image-Based Scanning Is the Future of Brick-and-Mortar Retail

By Alex Goodwin

April 26, 2016

Retail devices are long overdue for a technological overhaul. As retailers look to engage with their digitally-connected customers more effectively – and in all parts of the store –  they’re replacing traditional purpose-made price scanners and kiosks with ones that leverage more capable devices, such as iPads and iPods to transform the shopping experience. Traditional retail scanners are bulky, heavy and cumbersome, unattractive to customers as in-aisles kiosks and inefficient for sales associates as clienteling and inventory handhelds.

Bulk aside, purpose-made devices that use scan engines offer a limited resolution which precludes the retailer from adopting future-facing symbologies, meaning retailers can’t reliably scan new symbologies like invisible Digimarc barcodes and images. Plus, these older, bulkier, less-advanced scanners are expensive to buy and install. With pain points so many and sundry, it’s no wonder retail tech companies have set their sights on developing a far superior alternative.

The future of scanning is brighter, lighter, and faster

Imaged-based scanning actually addresses every single pain point of traditional scanning. For starters, scanners that harness the iPhone and iPod’s native cameras avoid the added bulk of traditional scanners. That means these next-gen scanners are sleeker and lighter – they look better and they’re easier to maneuver –  qualities which are important for fixed kiosks and handheld mobiles alike. Our Mobile Imager is a great example of just how streamlined a mobile scanning device can be (right).

Image-based scanning supports next-gen symbologies

The look and feel of these superior scanners is only the beginning. Just as new scanning hardware was required to support QR and 2D barcodes, new hardware is needed to keep up with the newest demands in retail. Invisible Digimarc codes and image-based recognition are already retail realities, and image-based scanners keep retailers ahead of the curve. Using the device’s native camera, next-gen scanning offers better image resolution, auto-focus, and the ability to scan any image, not just barcodes, so retailers get faster and more intuitive scanning for both sales associates and customers.

In both sales associate and customer use cases, this quicker and more reliable scan is a tremendous improvement over traditional scanners.

Advanced scanning helps create immersive shopping

Savvy retailers know these improvements aren’t simply convenient; with the ability to reliably scan any image, bricks-and-mortar stores can create immersive shopping experiences that are surprising, fun and engaging for customers. Shoe retailers can use handheld devices for a quick scan of a product, showcasing how a shoe looks on the wearer and suggesting similar styles and alternative colors. Grocery stores can use circulars and coupons to direct shoppers to products’ physical locations and offer them deals on similar items.

Imaged-based scanning is the future for bricks-and-mortar retail stores, helping retailers create the innovative and captivating shopping environment that customers are already demanding. Fixed image-based scanners, like our Interactive Kiosk, are the starting point for a more exciting shopping journey for customers, and handheld devices like our Mobile Imager deliver one-handed scanning in a lightweight form factor that becomes a powerful clienteling and inventory tool in the hands of a sales associate.

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