The Scandit-powered consumer app by CodeCheck scans product barcodes, shows the ingredients of groceries and cosmetics, evaluates them as “harmless,” “somewhat recommended,” or “avoid at all costs” and summarizes all of this in an assessment. The popular app was developed with the fast, reliable Barcode Scanner SDK integrated to perform enterprise-grade barcode scanning.
Does the lipstick in the drugstore contain microplastics instead of water-soluble silicon? Is the granola from the organic market vegan, or does it contain too much sugar? In order to answer these questions, consumers who wish to consult a competent and reliable shopping guide can use the app by CodeCheck, which offers a mobile shopping assistant for groceries and cosmetics. Using their smartphones, users scan the barcode of an item and receive information and expert evaluations regarding its ingredients, incompatibilities, and nutritional labeling for food items. The app also shows alternatives to the products that have just been scanned – an especially helpful service when the item in question does not meet the needs of the buyer.
In the initial phase, the company used the scanning software of another provider, but was not quite satisfied with it. “Consumers are very critical. They want products that function perfectly,” says Roman Bleichenbacher, Chief Science Officer and founder of CodeCheck in Zurich. “After thorough testing, we decided to use the scanning engine developed by Scandit. The software works very quickly and reads barcodes from every angle. It also delivers precise results in unfavorable light conditions, is available for iOS and Android, and even functions smoothly on older smartphones with low-end cameras.”
The app is extremely easy to use. Users select the menu item “scan barcode” and capture the product barcode with the smartphone camera. For cosmetics and grocery items, the screen immediately shows evaluations by independent experts from consumer organizations and NGOs regarding the ingredients: Ingredients designated as green are harmless, yellow ingredients may be dangerous, and red designates the item contains ingredients such as palm oil or substances with hormonal effects that should be avoided by consumers whenever possible.
The provider of the consumer app stores basic information about the ingredients of the products in one of the largest German-language online databases. It contains several million entries; the focus is on fully declarable products such as food and cosmetics. As data sources for the evaluations, CodeCheck uses information from the European Commission and the California Department of Public Health, among others. The company also uses special evaluations from product sectors that may contain ingredients with hormonal effects, labels and quality seals, microplastics, and nano-particles. Further data sources are the Bund für Umwelt- und Naturschutz Deutschland [Association of Environmental and Nature Protection in Germany] (BUND), WWF, the Consumer Center of Hamburg, the Consumer Initiative, and Greenpeace. If app users notice that information is wrong, incomplete, or out of date, they can add the information from the packaging to the app. CodeCheck ensures that the most updated product information is always available.
Informed and sustainable shopping
A fast growing number of consumers are paying attention to high-quality ingredients when shopping, and many wish to avoid palm oil and additives in their food. The demands of consumers are increasing, and in addition to health issues they are taking ecological aspects into account whenever possible. As “conscious consumers”, many are reducing their consumption of meat and fat and paying attention to organic quality and the regional origin of their food. There is also growing interest in a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle.
The CodeCheck app with the scanning engine developed by Scandit is a central component to providing consumers with comprehensive information. “Demanding consumers have completely changed their shopping behavior: They are shopping more consciously,” says Bleichenbacher. “Through the combination of one of the largest German-language product databases with the highly reliable and fast scanning engine by Scandit, we are supporting them with a range of possibilities. The high customer satisfaction and the recommendation rate of the CodeCheck app speak for themselves.”
The group of conscious consumers is composed largely of people born after 1980. Their concerns about sustainability are greater than other age groups. The under-40s, also called Millennials or Generation Y, are active on many social media networks and share their knowledge with others, for example in communities. For companies, this environment offers a good opportunity to have an open dialogue with consumers by means of a transparent approach to ingredients and supply chains, and to adapt their products according to sustainability concerns. CodeCheck is currently developing specialized market research services for these companies under the brand Oeeda (Oeeda.com).
The barcode scanning app is available in German and English. In the German-speaking realm, more than 1.6 million people use it. A total of 100 million scans have already been performed with the app. The company is planning to enter the U.S. market with the English beta version in 2019.
Expansion with Augmented Reality functions
Simultaneous to the development of activities for companies in the market research area, CodeCheck is looking into an expansion of the app with Augmented Reality functions. Consumers would then be able to scan and decode the barcodes of multiple products on a shelf all at once using Scandit MatrixScan. Then, with Augmented Reality functions, they will see at a glance which products meet their needs.
Further, users who are looking for a specific product among a variety of similar offerings in a drugstore will find their desired item more quickly. The innovative scanning solution locates and decodes all barcodes in a certain area and then shows the user precisely the products that meet the search criteria. Before a possible rollout, the company is testing the usage scenarios and will adjust the functions offered by Scandit to the CodeCheck app.