Replacing Dedicated Scanners with Mobile Devices in the Last Mile

| Post, Parcel & Express

Delivery man scanning package label

Barcode scanners are essential tools for a range of industries, and this is especially true for post, parcel and express businesses. And while dedicated handheld devices with a barcode reader offer a robust solution for enterprise operations, they’re increasingly being replaced or augmented in the last mile by smartphone apps featuring barcode scanning functionality.

From superior TCO (total cost of ownership) to workflow flexibility and the ability to quickly add additional software functionality, smart device-based barcode scanning software brings major advantages to businesses.

At Scandit, we’re changing the way enterprises and employees interact with everyday objects, augmenting the physical world with real-time insights captured by scanning barcodes, text and other visual identifiers. Specifically, our computer vision solutions can help couriers and drivers worldwide complete delivery operations and data capture workflows in a faster, smarter and more cost-efficient way.

In this blog, we’ll discuss why many last mile enterprises are deploying barcode scanning and augmented reality-enabled smart devices and discussing how doing so may be helpful to improving workflows overall.

The pitfalls of traditional scanning hardware

Legacy dedicated barcode scanners have provided one of the most dependable data capture solutions on the market. Traditional scanning hardware scans with accuracy and speed, which are both essential to maintain efficient workflows. But recent research indicates that these handheld devices with barcode readers are being supplanted by smart devices with scanning-enabled software.

In a 2021 global research study from Scandit, 67% of delivery enterprises in Europe report using smartphones, either as the primary device or as part of a mixed last mile driver device estate.

A shift to smart mobile scanning devices

It’s no secret that dedicated scanners are expensive to purchase and maintain. So when costs are under scrutiny and software-based solutions can match (or at times exceed) the scanning performance – it’s clear why this shift is happening.

And if you’re investing in barcode scanners for hundreds or even thousands of employees, those hardware investments can quickly spiral out of control. This is especially true during “peak seasons” when many enterprises need to equip temporary workers with data capture devices to cope with spikes in delivery volume.

Inflexibility is another key weakness of dedicated barcode scanners. These scanning solutions often require employee training for proper adoption which raises labor costs, particularly during times when enterprises bring in seasonal drivers. Most importantly, traditional scanners aren’t compatible with some emergent data capture technology such as augmented reality (AR) or ID scanning for age-verified delivery.

Watch how effortlessly smartphones can handle last mile workflows with superb scanning and innovative AR:

In other words, it can be difficult to adapt these solutions to some of the evolving business needs the same way smart device-based barcode scanning software can.

Given these issues, it makes sense that leading businesses across the world are including smart device-based barcode scanning solutions, either to supplement or replace dedicated scanners to more efficiently manage operational workflows.

The business advantages of smart mobile scanning devices

Mobile barcode scanning software transforms inexpensive smart devices (think smartphones and tablets) into robust data-capture tools. These solutions bring powerful barcode scanning capabilities to any app running on a camera-equipped device, delivering the same (or superior) scanning performance as dedicated hardware for a fraction of the cost.

The result? More intuitive, flexible and cost-efficient data capture last mile workflows from the delivery depot to the doorstep.

With smart device-based barcode scanning, you can improve the performance, flexibility and cost efficiency of your mobile data capture efforts.

This technology is compatible with a wide range of smart devices (including ruggedized models), enabling you to easily put high-performance barcode scanning capabilities in the hands of every single delivery driver or courier. In fact, Scandit supports over 20,000 smart device models – making it simple to deploy them on either Corporate Owned Personally Enabled (COPE) or Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) mobile deployment strategies.

Barcode scanning software: a success story

Here’s a perfect example of how mobile barcode scanning software can optimize your enterprise workflows.

Scandit worked with NACEX, an express B2B and B2C courier service for parcels and documents based in Spain, to replace their dedicated scanners with a smartphone-based barcode scanning solution. At the time, NACEX’s drivers were using handheld scanning devices to manage delivery information. However, these tools presented challenges with scan speed for drivers, and limited the types of information they could record and display.

Lower TCO

NACEX developed an Android app for mobile data capture into which they integrated the Scandit Barcode Scanner SDK and immediately uncovered key advantages over their dedicated scanners.

First, the smartphone-based solution enabled NACEX to issue drivers inexpensive Android smartphone models for all workflows that required barcode scanning, or download the Scandit-powered app to leverage their own personal device for these scanning tasks. Both approaches delivered substantial cost savings compared to dedicated scanners.

Superior performance

Once implemented, the Scandit solution doubled the scan speed of NACEX’s traditional scanners — an essential improvement considering that its last mile drivers scan over 5 million barcodes each month. And thanks to the lighting capabilities of these Scandit-powered smartphones, NACEX’s drivers could also scan codes inside darkly lit delivery vans, increasing capture speed and reliability.

Augmented Reality

NACEX also leveraged the Barcode Scanner SDK’s multi-scanning and AR features to turn their smart devices into robust data capture solutions. Each augmented reality-enabled device can locate, track and decode multiple barcodes at once, presenting key data obtained from each scan via AR overlays on the smartphone screen. These overlays offer detailed insight into parcel information and real-time instructions for drivers, fostering more economical and transparent last mile delivery.

After implementation, approximately 70% of NACEX’s 1,500 drivers had adopted the Scandit Barcode Scanner SDK-supported app, driving dramatic improvements for the B2B and B2C courier service.

“With the new app and multi-scanning functionality, the drivers can do the job much quicker, as they don’t need to read and confirm each code sequentially with the AR color overlays,” said Paco Ontiveros, NACEX IT Manager.

Embrace the future of barcode scanning

Ready to learn more about how you can leverage the Scandit software-based solution to optimize your mobile data capture operations and say goodbye to laser scanners? Then be sure to check out our ebook on the subject.

Last but not least, be sure to contact us for more information on Scandit and our industry-leading mobile computer vision solutions. We’re always here to help.