Every year around this time, in the run up to Christmas, we hear about the new levels reached in online sales. “The end of the highstreet!” we are told, yet still the shopping centres are the same horrific places to visit, with hoards of people and prams trying to take off your ankles. It seems to me that a webpage will never be able to replace the ability to try something on, browse through a shelf or the instant gratification of purchasing and owning immediately; even next day delivery cannot promise that.
So while it makes good headlines, and even better comedy sketches, to imagine a world where the highstreets disappear and the internet is king human nature is unlikely to ever allow this to happen. However innovation is inevitable. Barcodes have been a mainstay of shops for a long time now but they are only just starting to become a tool of the customer as well as a tool of the shop owners themselves. Martin Gill, of Forrester research, has recently been quoted by the BBC as saying “Apps like bar code scanning, store locator, checking physical stock online via your phone – all of these features are turning your mobile into a shopping buddy or a shopping assistant.” This fusion of the physical and online shopping worlds looks to be the logical conclusion of growing technological capabilities, the practical limitations of logistics means that internet shopping cannot be a replacement for the shop but as with any age the case is innovate or disappear for the shops. Although many may try and resist the change and lose out to others the end of the shops is not upon us. The integration of barcode reading technology allows for the quick transfer of information from the physical world to the internet meaning that simply because you are in the shop, you don’t miss out on the benefits of the internet.
Any other areas where you think barcodes are making a big impact?