EK servicegroup, a retail purchasing and marketing association network, integrated Scandit Smart Data Capture into their customer-facing apps. Helping their customers to reorder products as well as streamline inventory management, compared to previous manual and hardware-based methods, EK eliminated human error, and improved speed and efficiency.
“Scandit is very fast, like nothing else. Open source software could not reach that performance and speed. The API is very clear and I think it’s easy to use.”
Yannick Rodermund, Software Development at EK servicegroup
Established in 1925, EK servicegroup is a purchasing, marketing association and competence network. As an alliance group with around 650 employees, EK prides itself on providing its network of over 4,200 medium-sized, owner-managed retailers across Europe a variety of tools to lead them into the digital future.
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, online through their web portal or through the app via their own iOS or Android devices. The original EK app had an open source scanning solution but this was not efficient and would not always capture barcodes correctly.
Whilst the customers were fairly satisfied as it provided a consumer-like shopping app experience, EK recognized that they needed to upgrade the barcode scanning element of the app. This would allow for more efficient, accurate and faster scanning which would improve the customer experience both when ordering through the app or whilst attending one of their trade fairs.
In addition to the app, EK hosts two major trade fairs every year where retailers can order stock directly. Ordering at the trade fairs had traditionally been done using a dedicated, offline handheld device. EK recognized that this was not ideal for the customer as they would not be able to see all pricing options, there were often not enough devices available and each finished order would have to be uploaded by an EK employee to be processed. This could take up to a full week and required a team of eight employees to manage. The customer would only receive a paper print out and the whole process was very time-consuming and open to errors. For EK, the upfront investment and maintenance of the devices added extra cost.
The devices were also made available outside of the trade fairs for a small fee to their customers in order to help them with inventory control and stock taking. The devices would be sent out by mail to the customer and used to scan product barcodes and the information then downloaded for use by the retailer.
All these factors created friction in the buying process which risked a loss in revenue and customer loyalty to EK.
Moving to smart data capture with Scandit
EK selected Scandit Smart Data Capture as a replacement for the existing open source scanning solution that they were already using within the app.
Scandit Barcode Scanner SDK is compatible with over 20,000 smartphone models, on both iOS and Android. This is especially helpful for EK who have no control over the device types that their customers use, and can rely on the extensive smartphone device compatibility provided by Scandit – an option that is not available with open source barcode scanning technology. Using Scandit’s technology, EK were able to provide an accurate and super fast scanning solution that easily integrated with their app.
The feedback from customers has been great with comments focusing on the speed and accuracy of the ordering. Yannick Rodermund, EK servicegroup’s Software Development Engineer commented that the feedback from the customers “has been really positive, the customers say it is easy to use and very fast.”
Integrating Scandit also had a positive effect on the ability to promote their products at the trade fairs. As Rodermund explains, “Scandit helped us to connect elements from the physical fair to digital contents. We placed a few QR codes at the fair which led to special deals or other content. Our customers can also login by scanning the QR code which saves them time by removing the need to type out their username and password.”
Using an app-based approach also alleviated the concerns of the number of devices available at any one time as well as digitalizing the order process. With the process no longer being manual, it has reduced human error and increased efficiency.
Deploying Scandit Smart Data Capture capabilities not only saved EK employees time to network at the trade fairs, but also helped convert all their customers to the EK app in a short period of time. In less than four years, all trade fair visitors have adopted the app. Rodermund comments, “This is a remarkable feat because many of our customers are not digitally native.”
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 to dispose of single-purpose hardware.
EK have since developed another app, EASY, where their clients can scan and manage stock directly using the barcodes on the shelf. Previously EK were renting devices to their customers which took time to ship, receive them back and required extra organizational effort. With the EASY app introduced, customers no longer have to wait for the devices to be sent, or manually maintain a spreadsheet of inventory.
Significant savings on time and operational efficiencies
EK have been marketing the use of their apps to their retailer network and the feedback so far has been very positive. The most significant saving for EK has been in time and business operational efficiencies. Rodermund says, “We save a lot of time and a lot of work compared to when we used handheld devices. Before we had the app, our customers used to have to fill in order forms at the trade fairs which took a lot of time. We believe we are cutting minutes off the ordering time for our customers since implementing Scandit’s super fast barcode scanning technology.”
EK believes that they will further leverage Scandit Smart Data Capture and are already looking into MatrixScan with augmented reality (AR) to display the prices in the camera preview at the trade fairs as list prices are no longer shown physically.
Rodermund says, “Scandit is very fast, like nothing else. Open source software could not reach that performance and speed. The API is very clear and I think it’s easy to use. I have just good things to say about Scandit.” When Rodermund built the EASY app it took “just 1-2 days to integrate the Scandit API, it was really fast.”
Overall EK have been delighted with the frictionless experience that Scandit has enabled for themselves and their customers. They currently have over 1000 retailers utilizing the app’s capabilities, demonstrating clear year on year growth.