Web-based Scanning for Retail: Reduce Barriers and Enhance Engagement

Retailers, and customers, can do a lot with an app that features high-performance scanning. But you are limited to whoever has installed the application.

There is an alternative to this – one that makes scanning available to a whole new audience.

That is web-based scanning.

By deploying barcode scanning into your existing website via a web app, self-scanning becomes accessible to anyone with a camera-enabled smart device, i.e. the widest possible audience.

Because it is available directly through a website rather than a hybrid or native mobile application, it can provide an excellent catch-all solution.

Customers can scan in-store or at home. And Scandit’s Web SDK is extremely versatile with the high performance you’d expect.

And following the COVID-19 crisis, the appetite for Scan & Go solutions is at an all-time high. So now is a great time to familiarize people with the benefits of smartphone scanning.

Here we offer some useful tips – both upsides and downsides – to consider when launching and building engagement for a scanning solution built via a web browser.

Web-based scanning is for all customers

Ideally, your customers would all download your app and use it every day. If that is not the case – and it may be for many – web-based scanning may help.

Combining web apps with native apps is often the optimal solution. But it can be expensive and involve more development time to do both.

Many customers are unaware of the benefits of smartphone scanning. Web-based scanning is a simple way to try it out without requiring any effort, beyond visiting a web address.

In this way, web apps can also be quickly added to web pages and used to test the appetite for barcode scanning services. They are also particularly useful for B2B companies, where app downloads may be restricted on corporate devices.

Then, once the business case is proven, you can move forward and invest in a native app.

Scandit SDK for the Web

When to go for a web application

Does your phone have too many applications? If so, your customers probably do too.

And although app downloads continue to climb – so does the competition to be installed on someone’s device.

According to the 2017 Mary Meeker report, the split between desktop and mobile in terms of hours spent online is becoming more pronounced.

Even back in 2016, Americans were spending 3+ hours per day on mobile (that’s 10 times more than in 2008) and just 2.2 hours per day on a desktop or laptop (no change since 2008).

Introducing barcode scanning onto a web page is a good way to cater for casual users. But ensuring your site is optimized for mobile is crucial if you want people to scan in-store.

What to consider:

  • What’s in it for our customers if they download your app?
  • Do we have sufficient marketing budget and plans in place to drive up app awareness and adoption?

Encouraging users to use your web scanning app

Building traction is sometimes harder than creating the app itself.

As explained above, a key benefit of a web app is that it can be found via a search engine. And with the right SEO strategy, this provides a massive potential audience.

However, there are pitfalls to keep in mind. With the increase in reach comes a potential decrease in functionality and, potentially, engagement.

Web apps accessed through a browser are limited in their ability to store and record customer data and usage.

As well as better performance overall, a native app can store data. This can be used to provide a more personalized shopping experience, such as relevant offers and promotions.

What to remember:

  • A web app can be accessed via a search engine.
  • Native apps have better functionality.

Speed and cost of app development

Web apps are generally easy to integrate into any web environment. This is because they are faster and cheaper to develop and maintain than their native equivalent.

A native version means building the same thing twice, for Android and iOs.

Many retailers already have mobile-optimized websites in place. So there is already a customer-ready platform in place to integrate a scanning app.

Scandit’s Barcode Scanner SDK for the Web can easily be integrated into any website, web app or e-commerce platform, such as SAP/Hybris and Salesforce Commerce Cloud.

And it can be configured in as little as ten lines of code. Quickly and simply.

Any user, regardless of device or browser type, will then be able to scan items the next time they go to your site.

What to remember:

  • Native means building it for Android and iOs.
  • The Scandit Barcode Scanner SDK can be easily integrated into any site.

Features and functionality

If you are looking at creating a web-based scanner, it is worth considering functionality.

Enabling scanning on your website can only improve the user experience. It can save consumers time and effort.

For example, if a customer is buying online, it can save them the task of typing in their loyalty card number. Instead, they can simply scan in the same browser window.

However, with more ambitious aims, a native app may be more suitable.

You may eventually want complex functionality such as frequent, high-volume scanning (e.g. self-scanning for large weekly grocery shops). Here native apps are better – both for usability and availability of advanced capture of data and features to deliver enhanced experiences.

Also, Scandit’s augmented reality (AR) overlays, used to display real-time information on the customer device screen, after the scan.

These can include offers, product details and reviews, and nutritional information. This is only available on native apps.

Things to remember:

  • Scanning on your website increases positive user experience.
  • Tasks can be made easier. For example, scanning a loyalty card rather than typing the membership number.

Progressive Web Apps – bridging the scanning gap

As you may have gathered, there are pros and cons to both native and web-based barcode scanning apps.

What native applications lose in terms of development speed, build cost, and deployment, they gain in performance. Native also enables a more personalized experience and provides access to advanced features such as augmented reality.

Web applications are agile and potentially available instantly to anyone with a web-accessible smart device.

This is where Progressive Web Apps – effectively the equivalent of providing a native-like experience in a browser – are being explored by retailers as a way to bridge the gap between the native and web applications.

Overall – think about the use case for store and customer

Ultimately, the key to any apps development is to work out how it will be used. Both now and in the future.

There is still some way to go before web-apps can match the functionality of a native app. But a web-based scanning app, using Scandit’s Web SDK, can achieve similar performance.

And retailers need the right mix of channels to ensure audience engagement.

But, at a time when contactless shopping is becoming ever more important, web-based applications could be the simplest way to introduce people to the benefits of self-scanning. Learn more about best practice for adopting web-based barcode scanning in this guide.