COVID-19 has undoubtedly made us all more solitary, forcing us to interact at a distance and re-shaping the way we do things, including how we shop.
As the economy began to re-open, we’ve seen people’s shopping habits slowly switching back from online to brick-and-mortar stores. With that, the demand for the convenience, contactless and safety of mobile self-scanning has intensified. Not only to keep customers safe but employees safe too. This trend is expected to accelerate, challenging all stores, including smaller retailers, to deploy mobile self-scanning solutions in their stores quickly and cost-efficiently.
Why is mobile self-scanning more accessible now to all retailers?
While larger retailers led the charge with mobile self-scanning, its accessibility to smaller, often specialty retailers, is helping them to reimagine shopping experiences and customer engagement during and beyond COVID-19. It’s inexpensive and easy to deploy plus a great way to connect customers with products while also observing social distancing rules.
Visitors to participating retailers simply install a self-scanning app on their smartphone, scan items as they add them to their shopping basket and pay at an automated checkout, or via the self-scanning app itself. It’s a great way to increase basket sizes, keep customers and employees safe, as well as engage customers on a different level with your retail brand.
Aside from the obvious frictionless shopping and contactless benefits, a reliable mobile self-scanning app lends itself to ‘search and find’ functionality by scanning a whole shelf of products at once. It also enables shoppers to discover the ingredients or a product’s origins via Augmented Reality (AR) overlays.
Smaller retailers and larger retailers alike find huge benefits with self-scanning which, when powered with high-performing scanning software, turns everyday smart devices into powerful barcode scanners. This allows contactless shopping without the store having to invest in expensive dedicated handheld scanners or lose valuable floor space, which are essential considerations for smaller retailers.
What makes the difference between mobile self-scanning success and failure?
For a self-scanning app to be successful, the software powering it must live up to the job. Frustration caused by failed scanning can result in reduced sales, shrinkage and permanent loss of customers. Thanks to computer vision technology, Scandit’s Barcode SDK is accurate on damaged barcodes, in poor light, at awkward angles, through plastic and frost , and even works with low-resolution cameras.
Just as online shopping has been accelerated by the pandemic, so too has the development of mobile self-scanning apps, seeing lead times reduce from 12-18 months to around 90 days.
Ensuring the app can be integrated easily on most platforms and devices is therefore important for successful deployment. Scandit Barcode Scanner SDK adds scanning quickly to any native mobile app and supports most development platforms and frameworks. Plus Scandit barcode scanner software works reliably on more than 20,000 different models of smart devices.
How can mobile self-scanning specifically support the smaller retailer?
The reduction in deployment lead times has been made possible not by reducing the accuracy of the self-scanning app but by restricting the breadth of functionality, for now. For smaller retailers who don’t need to integrate with loyalty cards, for example, this vastly reduces development time and cost, and the fact that the app can be installed on the user’s own familiar smartphone also increases the rate of uptake. If retailers choose to build, rather than buy, additional functionality can always be added in the future.
In-store Coronavirus precautions, such as limited capacity, monitored entrances and exits, social distancing and the widening of shopping aisles has contributed to a welcome reduction in shrinkage, which is more damaging to smaller retailers than their larger counterparts. Mobile self-scanning has revitalized smaller outlets by allowing them to increase their throughput safely, while operating with fewer staff when colleagues are ill or forced to self-isolate, releasing more associates for surveillance duties.
The future of the self-scanning app
With 77 percent of customers keen to interact with self-checkout technology prior to the pandemic, the uptake of mobile self-scanning apps can only increase, given the safety benefits that self-scanning now provides. And as confidence in self-scanning increases, so does the size of the basket.
In-store purchasing is just the beginning for mobile self-scanning. Over time, the technology can adapt to include such enhancements as navigation tracking to study customer behavior, and Augmented Reality to offer a more informed purchase. All of these improve the user experience, increasing customer satisfaction and loyalty.
While the pandemic has kick-started the adoption of self-scanning, it doesn’t stop with COVID-19. There are many more opportunities ahead, providing an excellent opportunity for retailers, large and small, to improve their omni-channel strategy and also bring a safer shopping environment in store.
To discover the benefits of mobile self-scanning both during the Coronavirus pandemic and in the future, take a look at our webinar: Why It’s Time for Mobile Self-Scanning: Now & Beyond COVID-19.