Barcode scanners are widely used in retail. They help to serve customers faster at the checkout and even switch them to self-service mode. In many stores, it is generally impossible to work without scanners – you cannot sell labeled goods without them. How to choose a barcode scanner, said Alexey Orekhov, director of the automatic identification systems division at Honeywell.
How is the market for barcode scanners used in retail changing ?
Alexey Orekhov: Bar coding technologies have been around for over 50 years. Of course, during this time they have changed. But the attitude towards barcode scanners in retail has changed even more significantly. This is due to the fact that stores want to get closer to the customer and make them enjoy shopping, including spending less time in the checkout line. And for this it is necessary that the scanning of purchases occurs as quickly as possible.
Large chains such as X5, Magnit and others are introducing self-checkout counters, which also include barcode scanners. This became especially relevant during the pandemic – customers want to make purchases on their own in order to have minimal contact with other people.
The introduction of product labeling has become a huge stimulus for the development of the market. It all started with alcoholic beverages, and now labeling requirements have spread to a very wide range of products. Thanks to this, not only laser scanners that can read a simple barcode, but also imaging scanners that allow working with two-dimensional codes have become in demand in the Russian market.
Live News Planet : For a long time, it was believed that such tools are only an auxiliary function. Can we say that now the view has changed, and without the introduction of such solutions it is difficult to talk about the digitalization of companies?
Alexey Orekhov: Of course. The state and labeling requirements played a large role in this. Whereas previously retail companies only kept their usual records using the traditional linear EAN-13 barcode, now they have the opportunity to trace the entire path of goods: from the moment of production or import into the country to the moment of disposal or sale in stores. EAN-13 code data is contained in the marking code, which means that companies do not need to scan two codes: for example, excise stamp and EAN-13. You can switch to scanning only one code. This means getting new opportunities for processing big data to build customer acquisition programs. And this is a serious incentive for the digitalization of retail.
Live News Planet: What difficulties do businesses face when using scanners?
Alexey Orekhov: If we talk about medium and small business, I think that there are no difficulties. A scanner is a fairly simple device that connects to standard ports and almost immediately starts transmitting data to cash registers or backend systems for accounting.
In large companies, the situation is more complicated. They need to manage all devices, update their firmware. And reinstalling software on every scanner in tens of thousands of stores is unrealistic. It should be possible to do this remotely and in large quantities. Accordingly, scanners must support both new and old operating systems, both proprietary and Open Source.
Live News Planet: Sometimes it happens that the scanner does not read the barcode, and the cashier is forced to enter it manually. Is it related to scanner quality or label quality?
Alexey Orekhov: There may be many reasons. Sometimes the barcode is not entered into the database: the scanner reads it, but the system does not confirm the presence of such a product. Sometimes the barcode is printed incorrectly. It happens that the scanner cannot read information, for example, from cigarettes, where the barcode is very small and dense, and the pack itself is wrapped in cellophane. To work with such a product, scanners with high sensitivity are needed.
Live News Planet: Why can’t you save on barcode scanners?
Alexey Orekhov: I would not say that you cannot buy cheaper scanners. You need to proceed from the fact that you have to scan. If a store sells only bread, then it is unlikely that it will need to read the marking codes anytime soon. This means that you can choose inexpensive, simple equipment. Moreover, the cost of an inexpensive scanner and a premium scanner differs by about 20-30%, which is not that much.
Live News Planet: What can the use of insufficiently functional equipment turn out to be for business?
Alexey Orekhov: The main consumer of barcode scanners is retail trade: it accounts for about 70% of the market. As I already said, the use of insufficiently functional equipment means an increase in the time of customer service: the scanner will not be able to read the barcode, and the goods will have to be started by hand. In the case of labeled goods, they cannot be sold at all, because it is impossible to transfer the data to the state database.
Live News Planet: What are the main solutions in this segment offered by Honeywell? How extensive is the company’s lineup?
Alexey Orekhov: Honeywell is an American company that has been operating in Russia for about 50 years through a Russian legal entity. At the time, Honeywell bought Metrologic, which is still associated with the best scanning technology in the market. The range of devices is the widest. These are handheld and stationary scanners that are used at checkout counters. These are rugged scanners that are used in warehouses and work after being dropped onto a concrete floor. These are scanners for industrial automation that read barcodes from products on a conveyor belt at high speed. These are built-in scanners that are installed at self-checkout counters, information kiosks, turnstiles, and so on.
Live News Planet: Are Honeywell scanners manufactured in Russia? What benefits does this give your customers?
Alexey Orekhov: In 2018, Honeywell opened a new plant in the Lipetsk Special Economic Zone. It manufactures products for process automation systems, fire and industrial safety, personnel protection, energy metering solutions, portable printers, barcode scanners, data collection terminals. On an area of 5 600 sq. m housed various lines for the production of finished products, laboratories for testing and verification of products, warehouses for raw materials and finished products, office and auxiliary premises.
Last year, thanks to the Lipetsk plant, we avoided problems with the supply of equipment to customers at a time when there were problems due to imbalances in supply chains. As far as I understand, Honeywell is the only supplier of such equipment that actually produces it in Russia.
Live News Planet: Tell us more about the Voyager Extreme Performance (XP) 1470g solution. What are its advantages over previous Honeywell solutions, and in what way over competitors?
Alexey Orekhov: Voyager Extreme Performance (XP) 1470g or simply Voyager 1470 is the second or even the third reincarnation of the well-known scanner that has proven itself in the market in terms of performance, ergonomics, and device reliability. The guaranteed service life of the device is five years. This is the best solution in terms of price-quality ratio. Its production began in Lipetsk earlier this year.
Now there are a lot of manufacturers of scanner equipment on the market: both well-known brands and new companies. Everyone strives to occupy a certain niche, to adapt the price for it. But it is very important to consider the total cost of ownership. Maybe it is worth paying a little more now, but buying a scanner that will work for more than one year. As I said, the Voyager 1470 will last at least five years under high load conditions. This is evidenced by the data that we receive from service centers.
Another advantage of the Voyager 1470 is its high scanning speed. And, of course, its quality: the scanner works with all types of barcodes, including the Mercury system for recording the shelf life of products in stores. In general, the development of these scanners took into account the whole range of possible barcodes or technological solutions that already exist or may appear in the future.
Live News Planet: What is the logic behind Voyager XP 1470g implementation? How long does it take? How is the integration with existing retailer systems carried out?
Alexey Orekhov: Voyager XP 1470g is an ordinary plug & play device: you just need to connect it to your computer. As for the integration with the systems available at retailers, this is usually done either by the cash register software manufacturers or by the IT services of retail chains. Our task is to provide them with drivers and all the necessary information to make this integration as easy as possible.
Live News Planet: How is Voyager XP 1470g distributed – independently or through partner networks?
Alexey Orekhov: Honeywell scanners are distributed mainly through a partner channel. We have hundreds of partners in all regions of Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus. We also have four main distributors – RRC, Treolan, Marvel and Scan City, who help us ensure the right amount of our products in our warehouses.