EK Retail, a purchasing, marketing association and competence network, has significantly enhanced how their B2B customers can order and manage their product inventories. The EK app, which integrates Scandit Smart Data Capture, including MatrixScan AR (augmented reality), increases the speed, efficiency and accuracy of product re-ordering and inventory management compared to previous manual and hardware-based methods.

Scandit is very fast, like nothing else. We immediately saw greater speed and performance when we replaced open source software with the Scandit SDK. The addition of MatrixScan gives customers immediate access to product information, making the ordering process even easier.

Yannick Rodermund, Team Coordinator, Software Development at EK Retail


Established in 1925, EK Retail employs some 560 people. The business services the needs of around 4,000 retailers across Europe with a broad range of services, including digital solutions to future-proof their business.

EK customers consist of a network of trading partners made up predominantly of independent retailers across a variety of goods, including homewares, electrical appliances, family and fashion. EK supports this network with professional offline and online marketing, optimal purchasing and ordering processes, and organizes an extensive service that supports individual entrepreneurs with the services they cannot provide themselves.

EK customers can order inventory via an EK sales representative, EK’s B2B online shop or the EK app on their own iOS or Android devices.

Addressing ordering process and efficiency challenges

When EK Retail introduced the EK app, customers were fairly satisfied and welcomed the consumer-like shopping app experience. However, the app had an open source scanning solution, which was inefficient and would not always capture barcodes correctly when customers scanned products.

In addition to the app, EK hosts two major trade fairs every year where retailers can order stock. They historically used dedicated handheld scanning devices provided by EK to order goods. These devices were shared and offline, which could cause friction. It was also difficult for customers to compare products and prices.

Orders then had to be processed by the EK team, which could take up to a week. In addition, for EK, the upfront investment and maintenance of the dedicated devices, which customers also used outside of the trade fairs, added extra maintenance costs and complexity to the ordering process.

EK recognized the need to enhance the ordering experience by:

  • Upgrading the barcode scanning performance of the app to increase scanning efficiency, accuracy and speed.
  • Enabling customers to order goods directly at trade fairs using their own devices.
  • Implementing advanced smart data capture capabilities that EK could use to display product information (name, price and stock availability) overlaid in the camera view simply by scanning a product barcode.

It was important to address all these factors to overcome potential friction in the buying process, the risk of lost revenue and reduced customer loyalty to EK.


Adopting a smart data capture solution

EK selected Scandit Smart Data Capture to replace the open source scanning solution used within their original app. The advantages of using Scandit included the following:

  • Unlike open source barcode technology, Scandit Barcode Scanner SDK is compatible with over 20,000 smartphone models on iOS and Android, covering model types used by EK customers.
  • Using Scandit’s technology, EK provided an accurate and super fast scanning solution that was easy to integrate within their existing app.

Yannick Rodermund, EK Retail’s Team Coordinator in Software Development, commented that customer feedback “has been really positive; the customers say it is easy to use and very fast and accurate.”

Streamlining product order processing at trade fairs

Deploying Scandit Smart Data Capture capabilities has had a hugely positive impact at trade fairs.

Rodermund explains, “Scandit helped us to connect elements from the physical fair to digital content. Customers can use the EK app on their own smartphones to scan and order products at fairs. This allowed our employees to spend more time engaging with customers rather than processing orders on their behalf.”

All trade fair visitors have adopted the app in less than four years. Rodermund comments, “This is a remarkable feat because many of our customers are not digitally native.”

EK no longer needs to provide dedicated scanner devices at their trade fairs, as existing and new customers can access the EK app and order products using their personal smart devices. EK does, however, take additional smart devices to their trade fairs to demo the app when necessary.

EK has also seen a substantial sustainability benefit from switching to smart data capture. As EK now processes all orders through the app, they have reduced their paper consumption to zero, saving 2,000 order books a year.

Secondly, a smartphone-based approach brings device consolidation benefits and removes the need for single-purpose hardware.

Enhancing the ordering experience with MatrixScan AR

With the Scandit Smart Data Capture deployed within the EK app, EK Retail could add Scandit MatrixScan AR (augmented reality) within just two weeks. The advanced functionality enables EK customers to scan multiple barcodes simultaneously and capture and compare product information displayed as an AR overlay on their device screen.

Customers can see product names, stock availability and prices in a single camera view simply by scanning products on the shelf using MatrixScan AR. Once downloaded, customers can receive personalized product offers via the app.

Saving customers time and effort on inventory management with the EASY App

Customer experience is also boosted through a second standalone app, the EASY app, developed by EK Retail’s sister company, EASY systems.

EK customers can scan and check stocks on shelves in real time and efficiently capture data relating to goods in and out. The app also connects directly to an ERP system via the cloud, which automates stock inventory processes in real-time, so there is no longer a need to connect cables to computers to transfer data.

Previously EK rented devices to their customers, which took time to manage and cost to maintain. With the EASY app, customers no longer have to wait to receive devices or manually maintain an inventory spreadsheet.

When Rodermund built the EASY app it took “just 1-2 days to integrate the Scandit API, it was really fast.”


Significant savings on time and operational efficiencies

EK has marketed their apps to their retailer network, and the feedback so far has been very positive.

The most significant savings for EK have been in time, cost, and business operational efficiencies. Rodermund says, “We save a lot of time and a lot of work since implementing Scandit’s super fast barcode scanning technology. What was once a manual ordering process is digital through the app.”

EK believes further leveraging Scandit’s advanced capabilities, such as MatrixScan AR, has made the process even more efficient.

Rodermund says, “Implementing MatrixScan AR has been a game-changer, particularly at our trade fairs. In the past, customers had just 2 or 3 days to look at 20,000 products, so they needed a fast way of comparing and ordering products.

MatrixScan AR displays product information and personalized prices in a smartphone’s camera preview. We estimate the ordering process to be 3x faster with MatrixScan AR! Customers are happier, and so are we.”

Overall, EK Retail has been delighted with the frictionless experience that Scandit has enabled for themselves and their customers. They currently have over 1,500 retailers utilizing the app’s capabilities, demonstrating clear year-on-year growth

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