Reviving retail? There’s an App for That!

Reviving retail? There’s an App for That!

Shoppers Skipping Checkout Lines with Smartphone Scan & Go Apps
Est. read time: 3.5 minutes

As the dust settles on the 2020-2021 coronavirus pandemic, pundits and retail analysts are wondering: Are stores over?

retail barcode scanning
Scan & Go apps are revitalizing in-store shopping by eliminating lines.

While it's undeniable that COVID-19 and the resulting social distancing, uncertainty, and lockdown restrictions have dealt a massive blow to in-store retail, the pandemic is hardly the lone culprit. Rather, the data overwhelmingly points to the advent of eCommerce as the "beginning of the end" for retail. According to Digital Commerce 360 - a media leader in B2B eCommerce, eRetail, and digital healthcare - homebound consumers spent $861.12 billion online with U.S. retailers. This spend was up a staggering 44.0% (year over year). In all, Digital Commerce 360 estimates that online spend accounted for 21.3% of total retail sales in 2020. Pandemic-driven gains aside, eCommerce sales have been steadily on the rise from $523 billion in 2018.

Sure, brick-and-mortar retail has been on the ropes, but savvy shopkeepers are swinging back with the help of an unsung (and oft-overlooked) ally: barcode scanning.

Shoppers: Skip the Line with Scan & Go
A handful of enterprising companies such as Shopreme, FutureProof Retail, Snabble, and Nomitri are streamlining shopping by letting customers skip the line with smartphone-based shopping apps. Point-and-shoot affairs, the apps all use an enterprise-grade scanning software development kit (known as an SDK) that harnesses smartphone cameras to flawlessly scan barcodes. Barcode data is captured and decoded to tally the shopper's total while informing retailers of products selected (for inventory and restocking).

While each Scan & Go developer has its unique take on self-checkout technology, such as employing artificial intelligence, the basic premise is the same:

  1. A store or retail chain goes shopping, comparing, and selecting a Scan & Go app developer that offers the right blend of features at the right price.
    • The app can be customized to push sales/specials and incorporate loyalty points.
  2. Customers download the iOS or Android app.
  3. Shoppers scan items as they select them, and the app tallies the order; patrons then either:
    • Skip the line entirely by paying via phone.
    • Or bring items to a specialized self-checkout kiosk to pay via cash or phone.
    • And then they leave.
selfcheckout scanner software
FutureProof Retail's Scan & Go Mobile Checkout App

Bonding Buyers to Brands
Line-free shopping is just the tip of the iceberg. Properly executed Scan & Go apps are highly customizable, enabling them to build bonds between brand and buyer. For instance, Scan & Go apps can "suggest" Parmesan to pair with the Prosecco you scanned or display a coupon for salsa to accompany your favorite chips. Additional customizations (based on app) include:

  • Providing loyalty point status.
  • Pushing in-store specials.
  • Guiding shoppers with In-store navigation (which also allows retailers to optimize product placement).
  • Creating shopping lists.
  • Providing digital coupons.

These customizations can help boost basket values (shopping totals) by up to 25%, as one German IKEA store found after implementing a Scan & Go App from Snabble.

But for all their behind-the-scenes sophistication, every Scan & Go app absolutely must offer shoppers point-and-shoot simplicity and unmatched decoding accuracy. Failed scans would necessitate staff intervention (drawing out what should have been a brief process), app abandonment, and poor app store ratings. Moreover, incorrectly scanned data may overcharge customers and impact inventory (e.g., mis-scanning strawberry yogurt as raspberry yogurt), requiring costly and time-consuming corrective action.

CortexDecoder: Putting the "Scan" in Scan & Go
Although approaches and features vary between Shopreme, FutureProof Retail, Snabble, and Nomitri, each Scan & Go app utilizes Code's CortexDecoder software development kit (SDK). Code's SDK endows each app with:

  • A near-zero miss scan rate.
  • Offline scanning abilities (if needed).
  • The ability to read barcodes off virtually any surface, from ground beef packages and crumpled candy bags to barcodes on metal or the screens of high-tech produce scales.

Code can provide this level of performance thanks to the 100+ barcode scanning patents it holds, including Dual-field Optics and Beyond Glare Technologies. Additionally, the CortexDecoder SDK scans and decodes 40+ barcode symbologies. This capability is a tremendous asset given the complexity of consumer goods packaging, which can incorporate oddities like a volcano- or bone-shaped barcode. Best of all, the CortexDecoder SDK can readily integrate into both existing apps and ground-up designs; in fact, FutureProof Retail replaced an underperforming SDK with Code's CortexDecoder within a day.

AR barcode scanning
Nomitri's Intelligent Shopping Assistant App

So, with innovations breathing new life into something as familiar as grocery shopping, will stores continue to be down-and-out? While department stores may struggle in the face of giant eCommerce platforms (indeed, many empty stores are now doubling as fulfillment centers, read more), mainstays like grocery stores won't. Thanks to adaptations like Scan & Go apps, grocery and big-box stores will have an easier time adapting to public health challenges and shifts in consumer habits (many customers won't want to wait in line ever again). And barcode scanning technology will be along, helping harried shoppers get home faster and enabling retail professionals to improve service.

Are you an app developer wishing to incorporate barcode scanning and data capture into your project? Contact Code and our experts can get you started.

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