Technology & software

5 important tips to consider when choosing a barcode scanner

Any retail business requires a powerful point-of-sale (POS) system to properly handle transactions, manage inventory, and record employee and consumer information.

One of the key elements to a good POS is a good barcode scanner. This is a piece of hardware used to read the barcode images on every product and is responsible for keeping track of purchases, inventory, and product manipulation such as price checking and identification. However, there are a lot of different kinds of POS barcode scanners out there and you’ll need to utilize the right type for your business.

Tip #1: Consider the types of barcode scanners

This is perhaps the first tip you will want to look into before spending money on a barcode scanner. There are mainly five different kinds of barcode scanners: Image Scanners, Pen Scanners, Wand Scanners, Laser Scanners, and CCDs. It is very common for businesses these days to utilize laser scanners and CCD scanners. A laser barcode scanner, such as the wireless one offered by Shopify, has a much more powerful range than pen and wand scanners and has a very small error margin. As a matter of fact, laser scanners are capable of performing 500 scans in a second, reducing errors to 1 in every 70 million scans. A CCD scanner is often seen in retail stores since it has a wider read range, but it cannot handle barcodes that are wider than its input area.

Tip #2: Look for ease of use

A barcode scanner should not be difficult to use. This cannot be stressed enough especially if a business is expected to conduct transactions smoothly. One of the biggest concerns for many businesses is connecting/pairing a scanner with a station. Where some devices use a PS/2 port or a USB port, a small business or an online-and-offline business with fewer stations might want to consider wireless scanners instead. These are paired to a station via Bluetooth. The only downside to wireless scanners is that they need to be charged in order for them to be used.

Tip #3: POS compatibility

This might be a no-brainer for some but it is crucial to consider whether or not the barcode scanner you will utilize is even compatible with the POS your business is using. Some devices are designed specifically for only one type of software while others are a little bit more flexible in this area, allowing you to test them out with different software and hardware alike. Can you connect your scanner to the POS running on your iPad or laptop? Can you easily connect it with every station you have in your retail store? These are important questions to ask yourself when you are looking into POS-scanner compatibility.

Tip #4: Physical design and reliability

barcode business

Many businesses do not take into account how heavy or power-hungry a barcode scanner is, so long as it works and runs smoothly with their POS. However, it is important to always look into the physical aspects and performance reliability of your scanner. You need to consider how heavy it is, especially for a handheld scanner, since retailers at the cashier will be holding these for the entire day. In direct relation to this a business should also consider how comfortable the device is when gripped. A slim, ergonomic handle would be the best choice. You need to know up front how reliable they are in connecting to the station, whether wired or not and if switching devices per station would cause too much downtime or not.

Tip #5: Consider mobility and range-of-use

Barcode scanners are supposed to be flexible in terms of reliability and use. This means you should be able to scan different kinds of barcode images under different conditions. Can your barcode scanner still read an image when under direct sunlight? Can it handle moving scans? That is something you need to think through if you are prone to utilizing wide/long barcode images. You also need to consider if the barcode scanner is mobile. Wireless scanners like the Shopify barcode scanner gives you more freedom to move around and this makes it easier to scan large, bulky items where the barcode stamp might be somewhere hard to reach.

Another important aspect to consider is whether the scanner can read both digital and physical barcodes. Today’s world is rapidly moving to a more digital era and your business should be able to cope with that sudden shift as well, especially if you are running both an online and brick-and-mortar store simultaneously. Being able to handle both kinds of barcodes, and even images such as QR codes, would give your business more range and flexibility to make transactions smoother.

Considering the best barcode scanner

A simple, mobile barcode scanner that is easy to use but has a wide range of capabilities (easy to pair with stations, can read numerous images, small error margin) is essentially the type of device any business would flourish with. Many mobile POS software, such as Shopify, have already designed their own devices and these are even more powerful since they are crafted from the ground up to work smoothly with the software and other hardware included. Following these tips and considering what is in the market today will help to manage and run a business a breeze.

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