By Mark Thomson, Retail Industry Director EMEA at Zebra Technologies. In today’s digital economy, enterprises are moving steadily away from paper-based processes, with information delivered to staff digitally and often on a mobile device. With consumer activity mirroring this migration to digital, it stands to reason that businesses – particularly those in the hospitality and retail space – are keen to adopt the latest technology in order to adapt to evolving demands. Indeed, staying ahead of the game – or at least running alongside the pack – is vital for businesses who want to beat the competition in the race to win the hearts and minds of customers.
Keeping the hospitality sector as an example, the traditional mechanic of attracting and maintaining customer loyalty was promotional offers and loyalty schemes via paper or card coupons. As we all know, these traditional means have been whitewashed by digital and phone-based applications. Subsequently, the demand for technology that supports this trend is rapidly increasing. The need to embed more data into a barcode for tracking purposes and the desire for greater accessibility of information is driving this technological migration from laser to 2D image scanning.
2D imagers offer a new way of reading barcodes delivered via mobile devices. The new scanning technology reads next-gen apps and offers greater flexibility and performance versus a traditional laser scanner. According to VDC, a leading research firm, the use of 2D imagers is on the rise across industries and now accounts for over 55% of the data capture market. 2D imagers can read 1D and 2D barcodes traditionally printed and electronic vouchers. It enables value-added applications that drive efficiencies and enhance business across the hospitality industry. Using this form of technology is cheaper and more environmentally friendly for enterprises, which can send these offers instantly.
Beyond customer loyalty programmes, time spent on administrative tasks can also be cut with 2D imagers. The scanners are designed to capture images and auto-populate forms quickly to enrol customers in a variety of programs or services. Furthermore, establishments with facilities that require age checks or personal identification are offered an easier, quicker and more secure way of scanning driving licenses in order to verify age or identity. The 2D scanners read characters on cheques, passports and invoices to populate cashing applications. 2D imagers are able to read barcodes omni-directionally (so less time aiming!) and are also capable of scanning barcodes at distances further than 28 inches, much greater than the abilities of traditional laser scanners – particularly useful for scanning bulkier items placed in tricky places. The scanning technology can also read a wide variety of barcode types including 1D printed, GS-1 and high density barcodes. Not all printed barcodes are presented in pristine condition, but the versatility of the 2D imager also means that the scanner can even process damaged and torn barcodes successfully.
In order to remain competitive in what has become an increasingly crowded marketplace; businesses are now required to look more closely at how to boost productivity to stand out from their rivals. Customer satisfaction is highly important in the hospitality industry and 2D imagers allow businesses to access technology that can teach businesses more about their customer’s buying habits enabling them to target individuals with unique offers. This more sustainable and inexpensive method of scanning barcodes allows businesses to engage with their customers more efficiently.. The benefits for both the consumer and the business are endless.