Increase ROI at the POS with 2D Image Scanning Technology

By Don Flynn, Vice President, Product Management and Market Development, Hand Held Products

Image scanning technology enables retailers to take transactions at the point-of-service (POS) to new heights by coupling high-performance linear barcode reading capabilities with value-added functionality that's only possible with a 2D image scanning system. For retailers, this means better customer service, more opportunities and increased profitability.

By migrating from linear-only barcode scanners to 2D image scanners, retailers are equipped with a single device that meets requirement for fast, accurate item scanning, and enables retailers to extend their capabilities at the POS through automated forms fill, age and ID verification, digital image capture and transaction tracking. By leveraging this advanced functionality to eliminate time-consuming paper-based processes and manual data entry, retailers can offer better profit and productivity-enhancing service, ultimately driving higher ROI.

Capturing Opportunities
The added capabilities of image scanning technology are advantageous in a number of applications.

During checkout, for example, a retailer may invite a customer to sign up for a store charge card. Glancing at her watch, the customer responds that she doesn't have time to fill out the application. Or a retailer may encourage a customer to stop by the service desk to apply for a charge card, but the customer turns away after seeing the long line.

At the pharmacy, technicians are required by law to keep logs of pseudoephedrine sales for a minimum of two years. Logs must include customer name and address, date and time of sale, and name and quantity of product purchased. Customers must show a valid ID and pharmacists manually key in or write down the information. It's a time-consuming process for both retailers and customers.

In each of these two cases, breakthroughs in today's 2D image scanning technology can enable retailers to offer more service in less time while they already have the customer engaged by leveraging a common identity instrument already in place throughout most of North America -- the driver's license.

Currently, 44 states and seven Canadian provinces use a PDF417 barcode on their driver's licenses, which commonly contains all of the information shown on the front of the licenses. With image scanning technology, all it takes is a simple scan of the barcode on the back of the license and the information is extracted and can be auto-populated into an electronic form. Key for applications where identity validation is critical, the data in the driver's license barcode is accurately gathered, verified and recorded, even if the information on the front of the license has been altered.

Automating these processes helps break down the barrier of a customer's hesitance to wait at the POS and eliminates long lines. Now completing a charge card application or maintaining logs are done with a single scan.

A Valuable Solution
The ability to utilize and benefit from 2D capabilities at the POS is a proven reality that retailers are witnessing today. Image scanning technology is a valuable investment that delivers performance and value, plus improves productivity, profit opportunities and customer service.

Unlike other technology solutions like RFID, where true viability is still to be seen and requires extensive infrastructure change and investment, 2D image scanning is time-tested, familiar to both operators and customers, and requires no workflow process changes.

The value of a 2D image scanning system is further enhanced by the fact that it's ready to perform new applications as retailers' requirements change. One image scanner can handle basic POS barcode scanning requirements and also has the on-demand flexibility of performing advanced 2D applications -- extending the system's life and greatly increasing overall return on investment.

Historically a niche technology, 2D image scanning has evolved to deliver the right combination of performance and value for any organization looking to improve productivity, profit opportunities, and customer service.

Don Flynn is vice president of product management and market development at Hand Held Products.

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