How to Manage a Physical Retail Supply Chain in a Digital World with Mobile Data Capture


As the digital revolution continues to redefine society, it’s also redefining consumer expectations. Meeting expectations of customers who lead digitally enhanced, “on demand” lifestyles can be difficult for retailers who have to move physical objects across extended supply chains.

The good news is that retailers can leverage modern mobile data capture technology to effectively meet consumer expectations. The same mobile and wearable devices that enable consumers to seamlessly blend physical and digital environments also enable retailers to operate omnichannel supply chains.

Here are three ways retailers can use the barcode scanning capabilities of the cameras on smartphones, tablets and wearable devices to create the kind of real-time supply chain transparency needed to meet the demands of 21st century consumers.

Instant Gratification

Thanks to constant Internet connectivity, consumers expect to get whatever information they want in the blink of an eye. This need for instant gratification means that at any given moment, consumers want to know which products are available and where.

Based on this information, shoppers then expect to be able to place immediate orders from their smartphones and tablets, with next-day or even same-day shipments.

With mobile data capture, retailers can accurately and cost-effectively deliver the instant gratification consumers desire. By scanning products as they move through the supply chain, retailers can obtain real-time information on their location and availability. Customers can then obtain access to this information and make purchases by scanning product barcodes using mobile consumer apps.

Personalized Service

Shoppers are not the only ones who can benefit from access to real-time product data. Mobile clienteling apps can provide store associates with immediate, scan-based insight into information including product features and functions, as well as location and availability.

This allows store associates to provide the type of highly detailed and personalized customer service normally found online in a physical store. For store shoppers who choose to identify themselves, perhaps by scanning a loyalty card, clienteling can personalize the in-store experience even further. Associates with approved access to customer purchase history, browsing history and general preferences can offer individualized recommendations, upsell and cross-sell promotions, and discounts.


One of the biggest changes the digital revolution has brought to everyday life is a previously unimaginable degree of flexibility. Consumers use mobile and wearable devices as digital interfaces to the physical world. For example, mobile GPS systems make finding directions in “real life” incredibly easy using digital technology.

In terms of the physical retail supply chain, mobile data capture helps retailers offer this type of digital flexibility at the final step of the supply chain. When customers are in your store, can they check out anywhere with a mobile POS device or by using their own self-checkout app?

Fixed registers create lines, take up valuable front-of-store real estate, and also create substantial infrastructure costs. Flexible checkout capabilities offered by mobile data capture solutions resolve all these issues.

Retailers don’t need to be afraid that they can’t meet the instant, informative, and flexible demands of today’s digital consumer. With mobile data capture solutions complementing your physical supply chain workflows, you might not just meet modern customer expectations—you might even exceed them.

Samuel Mueller is the CEO and co-founder of Scandit and is responsible for overall strategic direction, marketing, sales and business development. Prior to Scandit, Samuel was a management consultant and project leader for multinational companies such as Swiss Airlines, Swiss Re and IBM as well as a corporate researcher at the renowned IBM Zurich Research Lab. While at IBM, Samuel was awarded an IBM Research Division Award and a total of three IBM Invention Achievement Awards. He has authored numerous patent applications and has published his research results in leading conferences and journals. Samuel holds a PhD from ETH Zurich and graduated summa cum laude with an MSc in Computer Science and an MA in Financial Economics, both from the University of Zurich, Switzerland.


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