The Container Store prides itself on selling products that make the lives of its customers easier. But running often bulky storage and organizational items through a traditional POS terminal and transporting them home can prove challenging. The difficulties in bringing purchases from store to home are amplified for urban shoppers, who may walk or take public transportation to their local store.
Founded in 1978, the Coppell, Texas-based retailer with over 84 locations nationwide is a longtime IT innovator. Recent investments in industry-leading retail operations technology include a voice-picking solution in its distribution center. This increased the speed and accuracy of picking operations while also reducing physical strain on employees. The retailer also rolled out a wearable retail communication solution to 4,000 store associates. This connects associates to other employees as well as corporate systems, ensuring immediate access to information and resources needed to assist customers and complete sales.
When it came time to ease the process of customers purchasing and transporting purchases of large or numerous items, The Container Store embraced the latest developments in mobile scanning technology.
In April 2005, the retailer launched a pilot of what it calls the “GoShop! Scan and Deliver” program. Using patented proprietary technology and running on Windows CE-based handheld scanning devices at its two Manhattan stores. GoShop! Scan and Deliver allows shoppers to scan the barcodes of products throughout the store. When done shopping and scanning, the customer can have everything delivered to them.
Over time, the IT decision-makers at The Container Store determined that advancements in mobile scanning software and consumer-grade iPhone hardware would be a better option than dedicated laser-based scanners. The retailer saw launching a smartphone scanning app as offering several cost- and performance-based benefits.
First, the upfront cost of deploying a cloud-based mobile scanning app to iPhone 6 smartphones would be substantially less than implementing traditional dedicated scanning devices. iPhone maintenance would also be less expensive, and the cost of updating firmware would be eliminated.
In addition, the time and cost of training employees and customers on how to use dedicated scanners would be avoided with iPhone-based scanning. The retailer sought to take the everyday experience users had with apps in their personal lives and replicate it in the store shopping environment. However, one concern the retailer had was how well iPhones would handle frequent scanning by numerous different customers. This posed the challenge of high scan volumes, as well as rough handling that would include occasional drops and bumps.
To resolve this issue, The Container Store decided to investigate enterprise sleds and cases that would protect iPhones in the rugged store environment. While enterprise sleds offered a protective sleeve, the retailer found them expensive and awkward to handle. They also required extra electrical components which increased the need for maintenance and possibility of equipment failure.
Meanwhile, The Container Store determined that rugged cases provided the necessary physical protection, but lacked built-in scanning capability or ergonomic support. The retailer ultimately decided to increase the durability of the app-equipped iPhones it loaned to customers using the Scandit Case.
Working in conjunction with The Container Store’s consumer-facing scanning app, which was built using Scandit Barcode Scanner SDK, the Scandit Case improves ergonomics and efficiency of smartphone scanning. Leveraging a smartphone’s existing camera and flash, this ergonomic scanning case eliminates the need for any additional electrical components, battery, built-in imager or laser scanner. It also benefits from the full functionality of Scandit’s scanning software, including frequent updates to support new symbologies or continuously improve performance.
After initial success with internal testing, the retailer ran a live user test of Scandit Case, as well as several competing smartphone scanning technologies. Consumers reacted positively to Scandit Case.
“Our latest user test revealed a preference for the Scandit Case,” said Matthew Smith, IS Senior Applications Engineer, The Container Store.
Customer reaction to Scan and Deliver has been strong enough that on Memorial Day 2016, all Scandit Case-equipped iPhone scanners in the retailer’s Sixth Avenue store in New York City were in constant use throughout the day. Store employees also report that Scandit Case effectively scans barcodes at a much higher performance level than any other scanning device previously used. This included scanning shelf labels behind plastic.
Other positive feedback included praise for Scandit Case’s built-in scanner button. Users found the case’s aimer, which leveraged the iPhone’s flash, effectively illuminate where they were scanning. The iPhone battery supported the scanning app for long periods of time, and the case was robust enough to protect the iPhones from any damage.
As a result of implementing the Scandit Case, The Container Store has effectively given consumers a convenient shopping tool that blends seamlessly into their mobile app-centric lives. Scandit Case provides the protection, ergonomics, durability and accuracy needed to turn consumer-grade smartphones into enterprise-grade scanning devices.