Ok, you have a mobile self-scanning app in development, are looking to take one beyond the initial launch, or are revamping an existing project.
If so, you are doing the right thing. As we demonstrated in our recent report – Going Contactless. Connecting with Shoppers in a post-Covid World – now is the time to bring out mobile self-scanning app.
But to be successful, it needs to be created with an eye on the future. Consumers are becoming used to shopping in-store with their smartphones. As this happens, the stores that can offer more functionality will keep those customers.
Some basic considerations:
- Adding a shopping list?
- Access to coupons?
- ID authentication?
- Ways to upsell through product suggestions?
We will answer these – and many other – questions. We would like to help make your mobile self-scanning app even better than it is right now. Maybe even 10-times better.
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1. Expertise - from design to deployment and beyond
In principle, a mobile self-scanning app is a simple proposition. You scan a product with a smart device. You pay. You leave.
In reality, there are many options to consider. And the challenge is to get this right quickly.
Poor user experience. Shaky scanning performance. Awkward payment options. These can all put customers off using the app. If this happens, they will rarely go back. Even when you have fixed it.
Here is a quick checklist of things to keep in mind when you are examining your app’s functionality.
- Upsells – how about adding product suggestions.
- Shopping Lists – do you want to include one? They are a great way to help the customer as well as a route to product suggestions and offers.
- Payment – via a kiosk, the device, or both?
- Customer onboarding – are the store staff involved or trained to help? This can be crucial if someone is struggling to use the app for the first time.
- Shrinkage – theft prevention measures such as (sometimes fake) cameras. Or store design.
Scandit has worked with numerous retailers and supplies more than just a high-performance barcode scanner. We also advise retailers on the best options when developing an app.
Coop Denmark – a Scandit client – provides a good example of additional mobile self-checkout functionality. Here, the store used app data to generate personalized offers, promotions, and discounts.
“Thanks to Scandit’s data capture technology, our employees and customers will be able to be more productive. Customers will now be able to use their mobile devices to quickly make purchases without needing any assistance from our employees.”Thomas Klausbo, Digital Director of Coop Denmark
2. Implementation, testing and deployment
Adding barcode scanning to a mobile application is relatively straightforward. Scandit’s Barcode Scanner SDK can have a native app scanning barcodes in as little as four weeks. And that includes implementation and testing.
But when you let it out into the wild, the app’s user experience has to be first class.
At Scandit, we have worked with retailers who have tested their mobile self-scanning app first with employees and with customers in pilot stores. This is a great way to iron out any issues.
- Distribution – do you want people to download your app via an app store or a web page? Whatever you choose, it must be clearly communicated.
- Onboarding – is there an onboarding strategy for first-time users? Onboarding must be frictionless.
- Employee engagement – have staff been briefed to answer questions about the app? Staff are often under-utilized in-store. They can make great ambassadors for your app.
- Marketing – pre-launch awareness, are you generating interest? Here is how our client Maxima attracted users to its mobile self-scanning app.
Scandit specializes in barcode scanning technology. But we have also collected a wealth of experience from our work powering self-scanning solutions for over 100 large retailers worldwide.
For more information, see our infographic ‘Now is the Time for Mobile Self-Scanning.
3. Accept nothing less than the very best scanning performance
One of the essential elements of a mobile self-scanning application is its ability to scan – first time, every time. This is regardless of the size, type, or state of the barcode.
As a statement, this might seem obvious. If there is one thing that is crucial for our retailer clients, this is probably it.
“Scandit Barcode Scanner SDK works out of the box. We have performed almost no configuration to its default settings.”Kristof Schraepen Digital Transformation Manager, Colruyt Group
People are likely to scan many products during their store journey. A difficult or fiddly scan might be forgiven once. Two times and they will start thinking about going to the checkout. Failed scans can lead to them ditching the app. For good.
Or simply use mobile self-scanning at another store.
When building a self-scanning application, it’s essential to take into account what it will be scanning. With over 20,000 products in the average store, product barcodes come in all shapes and sizes.
Consumers must be able to scan products quickly and accurately regardless of surface lighting or angle. Some might be on curved packaging or the codes on others may have been slightly damaged.
“Scandit’s barcode reader technology recognizes barcodes from any angle. The engine achieves a consistently high level of performance even under adverse conditions, such as poor lighting and light reflections.”Jörg Decker, Product Owner for Mobile Commerce at METRONOM
Scandit’s barcode scanning technology can handle all of the challenges below. Your app needs to as well.
Scandit’s Barcode Scanner SDK can scan accurately in low lighting conditions. In fact, it can even scan barcodes below 1lx.
Damaged barcodes are not a problem. Even if the barcode is ripped in half, as long as the bars are there, your app – using our SDK – will be able to decipher it instantly.
Store lighting can sometimes reflect on the barcode surface. The Scandit’s Barcode Scanner SDK’s ability to handle glare is a key differentiating factor.
People hold products up quickly and briefly. Our scanner SDK will be able to scan the barcode even from a 45° angle. This is crucial in the current shopping environment where people want to be in and out of the store as quickly as possible.
Customers do not want to be standing in the aisle waving their phone at the product, trying to align the barcode with the scanner.
4. Pick your barcodes - retail uses more than just one
If your app is scanning UPCs in a store, there is a fair chance it is being used in the US or UK. If it’s EAN, there’s a high probability that it is in mainland Europe.
However, there are many barcodes out there – retail has a fair number of them. These don’t just stretch across different product categories but also coupons – a crucial element to any shopping trip.
For example, there’s the EAN-2 / EAN-5 Add-On, the GS1 DataBar, or the above two mentioned. And these are just 1-Dimensional barcodes. There many 2-Dimensional barcodes – QR, Datamatrix – that are used around the store.
“The spectrum of symbologies was particularly interesting for us since Scandit not only covers the EAN and UPC standard codes for barcodes, but also the Code 128 and GS1 Databar variants. And in addition, the reading accuracy and speed of Scandit also won us over.”Justus Gentner, Vice President Operations, E2E Consumer Panel at GfK
Performance is one thing, but your mobile self-scanning app needs to be up to date with all retail barcode symbologies.
5. Future proofing your application
Perfecting your mobile self-scanning app’s core functionality – like ensuring exceptional scanning performance – is essential. If you get it right, your customers will love your app. Better still, they will rely on it.
But why stop there? The next development stage should be to offer more functionality. The more reasons people have to use the app the more reasons they will shop in your store.
So you need to make sure your app uses flexible components that can be adapted to future needs.
Mobile self-scanning has moved from a nice-to-have, where its users were typified by convenience shoppers, like office workers buying sandwiches at lunchtime. With the push towards contactless shopping, self-scanning smartphone apps have grown in usage. As have the basket sizes.
Scandit’s barcode scanning technology opens the door to a whole range of ways to interact with the real world. From age verification to revealing personalized offers on the screen – there are many features that can be easily added.
6. AR and MatrixScan - the fast route to the next level
If you are looking to the future, there’s no better way to take your mobile self-scanning app to another level than to add augmented reality (AR). It can make life easier for your store, customers, and staff.
Scandit’s Barcode Scanner SDK integrates with some useful additional features like our AR and our MatrixScan functionality. These features allow devices to display anything from display personalized offers to product information. All in an instant.
Scandit MatrixScan scans multiple barcodes at once using the smartphone’s camera. AR transposes information over the scanned image on the device’s screen.
Here are just a few ways it can help.
Customers love offers, coupons, and loyalty points. With MatrixScan and AR, they don’t need to fill their pockets with coupons and cards. Instead, the store can give them personalized offers and coupons.
All the shopper needs to do is point their phone at the product shelf and scan the barcode. The relevant product offer is then overlaid on the screen. Best of all, these can be personalized offers that are specific to that store.
Product Information Lookup
Product Information Lookup can be enabled via smartphone apps using Scandit’s barcode scanning SDK. This means the customer can instantly access review and product information. All the customer has to do is scan the product’s barcode, and information about it is overlaid on their device’s screen.
Search and Find
If you enable Scandit’s Search and Find functionality on your smartphone app, the ‘hidden’ product jumps straight out at the user.
All the customer has to do is scan multiple barcodes on the shelf. Then the correct item is highlighted on the screen via an AR overlay.
Specific items can be located by brand or even by category.
7. ID Scanning and Age Verification
ID Scanning and Age Verification are not typically part of a mobile self-scanning application. But it can be used to add extra functionality. For example, fast and easy sign-ups.
A good example of this is Valora, a European convenience chain with over 2,700 outlets. In 2019, it launched Valora Avec, a 24/7 small-format store that is fully automated.
To shop, customers download the Valora Avec mobile self-scanning app at the store and sign-up by scanning an ID document with their phone. They are then free to purchase food in the store through the app. The entire sign-in process is done through the app.
“We already recognized Scandit as an innovative technology partner from previous projects and knew that we could rely on their scan engine for the Avec app. It works quickly and reliably, even in difficult light conditions.”Dominique Martin, Manager – Consumer Application, Valora
Scandit’s Barcode Scanner SDK combines the best of barcode symbology scanning and text recognition. As a result, our ID scanning solution is best in class.
Recognized documents include:
- US, Canadian, and EU driver licenses.
- Residence and travel cards.
But these are just a few. We cover many more and they are constantly updated. For a full list see our post ‘Boost Retail Operations with Smartphone ID Scanning’.
Brands have been quick to take advantage of our SDK’s ability to verify ID. In the US, delivery service Instacart’s pickers use a Scandit-powered app to pick and deliver customer orders. ID scanning is used for age-restricted products like alcoholic beverages.
In this case, ID scanning is used as a method of age verification for home delivery and curbside pickup. It works in combination with the delivery label scan to alert the driver when verification is required.
Crucially, it records proof that the ID scan has been made correctly.
8. Contactless shopping is more than just an innovation
But there are so many more options, depending on your store, products, and customer base. Are you a grocery business? Why not suggest recipes to shoppers and add the products to their shopping list.
Or a DIY store? Highlight deals on paintbrushes if someone is buying paint.
Innovations like this add more value beyond ‘Scan. Pay. Go’. And the more value you add, the more likely people will continue to use the application. And, hopefully, tell their friends.
The traumatic events of the last 12 months have meant contactless shopping is more than just innovation. It is a way to differentiate your offer and brand.
So treat the app on the customer’s device as an extension of the store. Give it as much care and attention as the chilled aisle, or the dwell zone near the checkouts.