The Point of Sale systems in use in many retail businesses nowadays are not only some sort of fancy cash register. Gone are the days of manual encoding and punching of items purchased.
In comes faster service as shopping habits of customers have drastically changed
since. Customers are into quick services as many individuals are trying to scramble for time to do their groceries and shopping in between jobs. It is for this shift in buying habits that retail businesses must also make adjustments to their systems and procedures to keep up with customer demands, including the installation of point of sale systems among other things.
The Point of Sale systems has changed with the technology-driven 21st century. This system has grown into a global industry set to reach $3.4 billion this year according to TechNavio, driven primarily by the changes in retail business. It is not simply a bandwagon that business owners must follow.
More than anything else, this is to address customer demands for quicker services for their basic needs and wants. Companies like Shopify have stepped up to the plate to answer this call from retail businesses as they continue to find solutions to the ever-growing demands of consumers. One must-have peripheral for the point of sale system is the bar code scanner.
Bar code Reader
A bar code is an image of lines or bars and spaces which is directly linked to a specific item in the retail store similar to identification cards one would wear in school or in the office to identify one person from another.
Generally, the bar code is composed of 5 parts: two quiet zones located at the beginning and end of the code, start character and end character with data characters in between. The bar code reader utilizes a laser beam which can easily identify reflections from these lines and even space thickness and variations. The bar code reader can translate these codes into data which is transferred to the linked computer for recording purposes.
Bar code Standards
There is not one standard for bar codes as in most industries since various jurisdictions have their own set of rules and regulations to follow. Depending on use, geography, industry and jurisdictions, various symbols or bar code standards can be referenced. From 1973, the Uniform Code Council which regulated the UPC (Uniform Product Code), has issued the standards for bar codes for retail stores’ use.
Joe Woodland, who invented the system for bar codes, developed the EAN (European Article Numbering) system. Many geographies use the latter since it allows for extra digits to allow for identification of country in the code.
Options for Bar code Scanner
Most individuals have seen a bar code scanner in groceries and big department stores. For the most part, one may have seen the handheld type that cashiers would hold up towards the small sticker with the bar code on the item you were purchasing. This type will generally work for small retail stores which cater to less number of clients.
However, if you move to larger retail stores which service a bigger number of clients at any given time, embedded bar code scanners located in the middle part of the checkout lane at the counter will work better. More often, you will also find that these bar code scanners are directly attached to the computer where data can be transferred immediately for recording to compute for prices.
Other bar code scanners may be wireless which allows for customers to bring it along with them to point to items they want to purchase for delivery at a later time. This lets customers move freely without need of carts or baskets such that when they hand the bar code scanner back to the store employee, the data can be transferred to the computer for recording when they are ready to pay for their purchases.
As you may have imagined, the cost of this type of scanner is more expensive but the novelty of using such type of bar code scanner can be a big boost to encouraging more customers to come in and experience shopping without lugging your items around as you look for good deals in the retail store.
No matter what type of bar code scanner you would purchase in the end, you as business owner, will have to decide based on budget, business need and benefits you can get out of it.
If you are thinking of buying a bar code scanner separate from other hardware or peripherals instead of a bundled package, be sure to check first that the equipment is compatible with the rest of the hardware and software you have installed. There may also be bar code scanners that can read printed or digital bar codes or both. Be sure to discuss what you have in place and let Shopify or any vendor know what you need. This will minimize potential headaches and unnecessary costs for you sooner or later.