Last mile operations are complex and challenging. Delivery companies across the globe are increasingly looking to digitalize delivery processes to ensure they are safe, efficient and error-free.

Get digital-ready for global peaks in deliveries

As global delivery volumes surge, front-line drivers and delivery workers require data capture technology that is reliable, flexible and helps them get the work done effectively, which is why smart devices are becoming the de facto technology choice for logistics and delivery enterprises.

200 Billion Global shipping volumes anticipated to reach 200 billion parcels by 2025

High-performance, convenient and user friendly, smartphone scanning solutions add speed, efficiency and innovation to typical delivery workflows. They proved their value compared to traditional dedicated scanners during the pandemic, with rapid scalability at a competitive price. That’s why:

  • 3.5 million delivery drivers around the world use smartphone powered by Scandit software every day
  • 5 billion parcels and pieces of mail are scanned every year with Scandit
  • 723 transportation and logistics companies trust Scandit

Scanning is integral to essential tasks in delivery operations and the choice of last mile technology, both in terms of software and hardware, has a critical impact on unlocking efficiencies and business benefits.

Smartphone myths persist

And yet misconceptions continue to surround the deployment and implementation of smartphone and scanning-enabled mobile apps in the last mile. In this guide, we discuss:

  • The five commonly cited myths we often hear about using scanning-enabled devices versus legacy single function hardware scanner
  • The hidden benefits of smartphone scanning and how smart device performance really compares to handheld scanners
  • Customer examples and how they are benefitting from enterprise-grade barcode scanning and augmented reality apps in the last mile.
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1. Myth #1 - Scan performance of dedicated devices can’t be matched

One of the most common myths is that camera-based scanning on smart devices has a lower speed and reduced range than dedicated hardware scanners.

Scandit-powered smart devices can not only match the scan speed and accuracy of handheld barcode scanners, but can often outperform them, providing the robust and reliable performance needed on delivery routes.

By leveraging computing capabilities and a high resolution camera, smartphone scanning offers superior range to some of the most widely used handheld scanners and ultra-rugged touch computers – exceeding their scan range by 40%. And that’s not just high-end smartphones. Watch Samsung and Scandit experts discuss it in detail here.

Scanning essentials for safety and speed

Speed, efficiency and particularly the ability to scan at distances have proven to be essential in supporting safe, socially distanced pick-ups and deliveries. So too is the ability to scan in the most challenging conditions.

Scandit brings accurate high-performance smartphone scanning to real life conditions encountered whether loading parcels in the depot, searching for a package in the van or getting Proof of Delivery on the doorstep.

Loading Receiving Post Parcel Express

These conditions can include:

  • low light or glare, when scanning in depots or the back of a truck
  • awkward angles of up to 80 degrees, reducing the need to bend down or climb a ladder
  • tough codes, whether damaged, curved, marked or very small

And at 480 scans per minute, Scandit’s single scanning speed easily matches the reliability and accuracy of hardware scanners. The ability to transform the last mile and do more with a smartphone device than single scanning is discussed later in the guide.

2. Myth #2 - Battery and power performance can’t last a worker shift

It’s essential that the barcode scanning device – handheld scanner or smartphone – outlasts the business day, so that your employees don’t waste time or lose productivity. One commonly cited myth was that smartphone batteries couldn’t last a whole shift.

But smartphone manufacturers understand the critical importance of battery power and performance, and continue to improve it with every new model. And the scanning software is also key.

For example, a popular rugged Android smart device was recently shown to deliver 12,000 scans on a single charge, with a scan every 2 seconds when powered by Scandit’s Barcode Scanner SDK. More than enough for even the longest route in peak season!

Still want more guarantees? Smart devices that support pogo pins allow reliable, frequent recharging in the van while out on the road if needed, and for shared devices that are used across multiple shifts, smartphone models are available with replaceable batteries. That not only extends their lifetime, but allows batteries to be swapped out as needed to enable powerful scan performance 24/7.

3. Myth #3 - Smartphones can’t be rugged

Dedicated barcode scanners are designed to withstand heavy usage within demanding delivery environments or rough treatment in the van. And one of the key benefits of today’s hardware market is the huge choice of smartphones and tablets, including rugged smart devices specifically designed for the toughest conditions too.

For example, statistics for the Samsung XCover Pro show that it matches the ruggedness needs of key workflows during on the road operations, with robust durability suitable for depot environments, hot vehicles and bad weather deliveries:

Rugged smartphone specs

It compares favorably with dedicated hardware scanners for ruggedness, but with a sleeker, user friendly and future-proof form factor. And this is just one of the many enterprise-ready rugged devices available to select from.

Adding a tough durable case also increases the ruggedness of any smartphone barcode scanner further, while still seeing savings versus the cost of a dedicated scanner.

4. Myth #4 - Smartphones don’t give the same user experience

Scandit’s enterprise-grade scanning for mobile apps works on more than 20,000 smartphone models, making it easy to find the right one for your business.

Also the smartphone offers a great user experience by delivering:

  • A single lighter device, making it easier to carry throughout a full shift and offering wide screens
  • The ability to do more like take calls and access navigation guidance
  • A familiar interface and guaranteed scanning performance in even the toughest delivery conditions
  • A range of models to suit different functions, environments and workflows

Wide screens aid legibility, for example when pulling up documents at the point of delivery. Some models feature increased touch sensitivity so they can be operated with gloved hands, and wet touch functionality for harsh weather deliveries.

For users who prefer the same physical button found on a laser scanner, smartphone models are available with a configurable physical button that fits the natural position of the hands while scanning, recreating familiar scanner ergonomics.

Or you can optimize tasks like loading the van or finding a package using the capabilities of camera-based scanning to drive greater efficiencies in everyday processes:

  • Uninterrupted continuous scanning can speed up tasks or you can enable the ability to scan multiple barcodes on a shipping label at once to identify a single package with augmented reality (AR) functionality
  • Parcel information like delivery zones or special delivery instructions, displayed directly to a driver’s screen with an AR overlay
scanning barcodes on packages for loading zones

5. Myth #5 - Smartphones are not secure and ready for enterprise deployment

Smartphones have been widely used in corporate environments for some time, both as Company Owned, Personally Enabled (COPE) strategy, where a company buys and provides its logistics staff with a mobile device or a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) approach, where companies allow staff to use their own device to do their job.

Either way, both are generally now supplied with multi-layered security, often built into both the hardware and software to be enterprise-ready. For example with the Samsung’s Android devices, their built-in defense-grade mobile security platform, Knox provides:

  • Intrusion and malware protection
  • Security features such as facial recognition and fingerprint access
  • Extended support, which includes a four-year security maintenance release, guarantees security patch updates and protection from mobile security threats

Such safeguards can be used in conjunction with cloud-based storage to protect against theft or loss. Also, with Scandit software, the security and data privacy from the data capture is assured – all data extraction and processing is done entirely within the device.

6. The hidden business benefits of smartphone scanning

mobile proof of delivery

Having put some common myths to rest, here we’ll explore three of the tangible benefits of smartphone scanning you may not be aware of.

1. Reduce your upfront investment and lower your total cost of ownership (TCO)

Switching to smartphone scanning devices allows you to find the right balance of price and performance, depending on whether you need single scanning or more advanced Augmented Reality (AR) functionality.

The cost of smartphones enabled with Scandit barcode scanning is typically three times lower than dedicated barcode scanners, which reduces operating costs and financial risk by lowering your upfront hardware investment.

Consider BYOD for further savings

Deploying a BYOD strategy, where workers use their own familiar smartphone, also reduces any hardware outlay and is an ideal solution for leveraging the gig economy or scaling operations for seasonal peaks without the need for intensive training.

Also as drivers struggle to juggle radios, dedicated scanners and dispatch information devices, smartphones are perfectly positioned to replace all three, increasing savings and providing a single, convenient solution to meet all your last mile needs.

How BYOD Smartphone Scanning Delivers Digital Transformation

Yodel saved on hardware scanning costs and enhanced the user experience by moving to Scandit for a 7000+ delivery driver fleet.

Read more

2. Effortlessly meet unexpected peaks

E-commerce was already booming when the Covid pandemic caused a dramatic spike in demand. As a consequence:

  • Operating costs in 2020 nearly doubled due to safety requirements, parcel volumes and lack of cargo capacity
  • The industry suffered capacity issues caused by +90% of parcel volumes – the equivalent daily demand of Christmas peak season
  • In March 2020 alone, Amazon hired 100,000 delivery drivers

Businesses needed to adapt quickly to unexpected demand fluctuations along with more predictable seasonal peaks, and many turned to smartphones to deliver a simple, scalable solution.
Providing employees with smart devices or allowing them to use their own is a flexible and cost-efficient alternative to dedicated scanners – enabling you to quickly hire workers on an on-demand basis when operational peaks arise.

3. From replication to innovation

Smartphone scanning more than matches the performance of dedicated devices in real life deployments – for those wanting to drive innovation it offers a whole range of added value, improving workflow efficiency and user experience.

Developers can replicate the same user experience of a rugged scanner to maintain existing workflows without disruption, with customizable push to scan buttons offering the same process as before, just as fast as before. But Scandit software-based barcode scanning also enables more advanced use cases.

Continuous scanning

Continuous scan offers greater speed and efficiency for high volume scanning. After activating the scanner once, it detects multiple barcodes without multiple button presses, saving time and reducing fatigue for employees scanning large shelves.

MatrixScan Augmented Reality (AR)

MatrixScan AR offers high efficiency batch scanning with real-time feedback. Instantly detecting all the multiple barcodes on one screen instead of scanning one after another, MatrixScan visualizes workflows and errors with real-time AR overlays on device screens, such as real time optimal loading order suggestions

ID Scanning

ID scanning supports the verification of age-restricted goods deliveries, seamlessly scanning ID as part of the proof of delivery process.

AR improves workflow efficiency
  • Employee productivity – search and find parcels at delivery point. MatrixScan AR helps to quickly identify the right parcel to deliver at each stop.
    Expected Annual Operational Productivity Gains – 195,000 man hour saving, $2.9 million process cost reduction
  • Process efficiency – load to delivery round process. MatrixScan AR captures multiple parcels labels and visually instructs a loading suggestion.
    Expected Annual Operational Efficiency Gains – 24,000 man hour saving, $300,000 process cost reduction

Scandit smartphone scanning solutions can be added easily to any environment including existing apps or workflows. The ease and speed of integration means it’s an ideal way to digitalize your last mile workflows without disrupting operations or breaking the bank.

So, isn’t it time to reconsider hardware scanners?

Smartphone scanning can replicate the speed, performance and reliability of a dedicated scanner, and is a more cost effective, scalable solution.

But to simply see smart devices as a direct replacement for dedicated barcode scanners overlooks their potential to innovate. The opportunities to improve processes, streamline device usage and accelerate capabilities support the industry’s inevitable digital transformation, future-proofing your last mile workflows.

If you would like to find out more about smartphone scanning in the last mile, or have another myth you would like us to help bust, get in touch or try out our demo apps today.

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