Tag Archives: shopping

USPS Look to Book Festive Business with Barcodes

The United States Postal Service have announced they will once again be looking to raise awareness of their seasonal offers through encouraging people to engage with mail through new technologies such as mobile barcodes. This will allow business users of the mail service to qualify for a 1-2% discount on delivery over the period; a substantial sum for many firms. To qualify the companies simply have to include a QR Code on their mail, which can be read by the recipient, to take them to a personalised webpage or online catalogue.

In tandem with this is a campaign to encourage the distribution of coupons and promotional offers for mobile shoppers. For obvious reasons the USPS are keen to encourage mobile shopping, if you buy on your phone it will be them who are paid to get it to you! Therefore this seems very sensible, a company taking the initiative in ensuring the market moves in the direction that suits them as quickly as possible. This also demonstrates how QR Codes should be used, not as some weak promotional gimmick but as the link to something which encourages business whilst offering something to the customer.

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Barcodes Fighting Forgery

News agency Reuters have reported that scientists in America have developed a ‘nano’ QR Code printed from fluorescent ink which can be used to help prevent counterfeiting. The basic idea is that the QR Codes, invisibly to the naked eye, are printed on the bank notes so they can be checked for authenticity later. Many people may ask why QR Codes? Bank notes have had invisible ink used to track them for years! Well QR Codes can contain far more information, and this information can be linked to a database which means without access to the database it will mean nothing to those attempting replication. Secondly they can be printed so small that they could be made to only be visible through a microscope, again making the job of any potential counterfeiters much harder.

Barcodes, in their simplicity are the ideal solution. The price to print them is only ever as much as the ink, compared to NFC chips which are less versatile. It is for this reason that it will be a very long time until we see them out of use, in fact it appears uses for barcodes are forever expanding.

If you want to explore what barcodes can do for your business then check out our website.

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Something Fishy Going on in Norway: New Barcode Standard Appears

There are a steady stream of news stories talking about what is next in the world of barcodes, RFID and NFC dominate headlines. However around the world it appears industry is sticking with the mantra of if it isn’t broke then don’t fix it. While QR Codes are heralded as a break through 1D barcodes are still clearly in the driving seat. They are cheap, simple and when linked to a database even a small barcode can provide more than enough information.

It is no surprise then that Norway have just launched a new barcode standard for fish boxes and pallets. Fishing is a huge industry in the Nordic country and has had to become highly regulated to ensure high standards. Barcodes can do this with ease and the investment in a new standard shows that they are far from on their way out. The reason for the change was to bring together several different systems and to established a single standard to which all could conform. Luckily in the world of barcodes such changes are not too expensive, simply means a change to the software and changing which barcodes you print; hardware can remain the same.

So don’t believe the hype, 2D barcodes and Near Field Communication may be all over the news but 1D barcodes offer the reliability and ease of use required by huge industry and will be with us for decades to come.

Do you agree 1D barcodes are far from obsolete?

Jack

For more information on barcode reading visit out website.

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Mobile Giants Battle over Barcode Patents

We have all heard recently of the patent battles raging between Samsung and Apple; Samsung now have to pay huge sums of money to Apple. This is nothing new and seems to have become a rather ugly side to the world of business where legal departments do battle. Aside from the fact that a patent should be an ‘unintuitive’ step, which most of their patents for ’rounded edges’ are not, it means that the consumer loses out. Less choice and higher prices seem to be the inevitable outcome.

However the patents that companies are battling over does show clues as to the future of mobiles technology. With this in mind I have been very interested to see in the news patents for mobile barcode technology being awarded to the large mobile companies. They appear to be mainly related to capabilities for enhanced shopping experiences where you can scan a barcode to add something to your shopping list. This is not a new concept with Tesco including it within their mobile shopping app quite a while a go. This point aside, though, it is clear that the expansion of barcode enabled mobile shopping is going to arrive.

If you want to get ahead of the game with mobile barcode technology then check out our website.

Where do you see mobile barcode technology going?

Jack

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Virtual Grocery Store Lands in the UK – Tesco joins the party

I have written blogs about entirely virtual grocery stores in the past, but these have always been stories of countries like South Korea or Japan who we associate as being very comfortable with such lavish technology use. However it has now arrived in the UK, or more precisely Gatwick airport, and its not just some new upstart company but Tesco who have introduced it. The idea is that you can scan all the products you want and they will be delivered for you on the day you return from holiday. This obviously is a solution to the annoying problem of going away on holiday for a fortnight, throwing out all your perishables, and returning home to no food in the fridge.

The fact that this should come from a large company such as Tesco is important, many people will already have accounts with Tesco; using their existing online delivery service. Secondly there is the trust issue, people are often wary of new innovations like this but the name Tesco will surely go a long way to allaying these fears. Also for something like this to be effective, and economical, it needs a large infrastructure, which again shows why this is Tesco who are undertaking the project rather than a small company; this is not a new idea, but it needs the correct situation to prosper.

However this is obviously a bit of a gimmick at this stage, the additional planning required to cope with this is surely going to cost more than this potential market. It could though just be a test, something which is going to be rolled out around the country. Supermarkets have been trying to get more convenient than the out of town retail park which once seemed to be the norm, see all the small ‘express’ versions popping up around town centres. These though will be costing a lot, property in town centres are not cheap. Therefore to simply shove up some barcodes the savings will be incredible.

I don’t think supermarkets and shops are about to all disappear to be replaced by barcodes but with such a big company emerging in the game it seems likely this will become a more common form of shopping.

Want to see what barcode reading software can do for you? Check out our website.

Jack

p.s. For more details on this story see the BBC.

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The North Face Facing the Future

If you are a shopper of North Face stores in the US then you can now use their iphone app. This allows you to scan the barcode of products in store to receive real time information on sizing and colours in stock. This makes sense; rather than having to find a staff member and ask them to look, which is often inefficient, this instantly lets you know what is available. Early adoption by companies such as The North Face is a big leap of faith but the vast improvement it can offer customers in their shopping experience is likely to pay dividends. Shoppers, as humans, tend to take the path of least resistance so anything to make it easier is going to drive sales.

The only issue with this scheme is how specific it is. Firstly it only works North Face stores, perfect if that is where you always shop but if you are just popping in it will take longer to download the app and scan the barcode than simply asking the staff. This could be a big problem with adoption. Secondly it is only available for iPhone, with the widespread use of android this instantly wipes out a large portion of the smart phone market. (check out our mobile SDK though… it includes iphone AND android at no extra cost!)

Therefore long term maybe we will see retailers setting a standard for such a system, so that a single application may service an entire shopping centre or even every large retailer across a country.

Jack

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Mobile Money Network: Completing the Circle

The Mobile Money Network, owned by the Carphone Warehouse, is a mobile payment system. Along the same lines as Google Wallet and Paypal’s mobile payment system. Within the next year their aim is to have several hundred big companies using the network in advertising campaigns. This is where a fundamental change could occur in the use of QR Codes in adverts.

Currently it is too often the case that QR Codes in a glossy magazine simply takes you to more rubbish information about a product you already know you are interested in. However with the Mobile Money Network the plan is to link these QR Codes to instant purchase pages. Although security fears surrounding QR Codes have been raised in the past, with people able to put their own link over the top with ease, this should solve the problem; an application such as this will be able to verify that it is a proper authenticated product.

It will be interesting then to see how this develops. Big names such as Thorntons, HMV and Debenhams are reportedly considering adopting the scheme. Only time will tell whether this is a viable option but if they find an effective way to link it to peoples bank accounts (e.g. without having to top up another account regularly) then it could catch on. Only time will tell.

Jack

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Shop Barcodes: Making them work for the Consumer

Traditionally barcodes have always been on products for use in the supply chain and for the stores themselves. However with the increasingly fast internet available to mobiles it is now possible to make them the tool of the consumer. There are now apps available which use mobile barcode reading software in order to help the shopper make the most of their hard earned cash. The applications allow you to scan a product in any store and your phone then tells you other shops in the locality or online which are able to do a better price.

Such advances in technology can do far more for consumer rights than any amount of legislation which is time consuming and expensive to implicate. Simply allowing a customer to ensure that they are getting a good deal increases competition in a practical sense, who really likes visiting every book store in a shopping centre or town centre to ensure they are getting a fair deal?

Talking to others about the application one concern which was raised was the pressure it could put on stores to compete with online retailers, obviously a very hard task. However it seems obvious to me that humans, as creatures of impulse, will always be prepared to pay that little bit more for the instant gratification of purchasing in store. However this application ensures that they are not paying extortionately more for the pleasure.

Would this be an application you would use?

Jack

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Barcodes: Bridging the Gap?

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?

Jack

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