By Nick Tabet and Darrell Owen, Datalogic
This is the third article in a five-part series about how retailers can use technology to create a top-tier, modern shopping experience. The first two articles can be found here: Part 1: Automate The Retail Supply Chain Using Vision & Imaging Technology and Part 2: Retail Inventory Management Benefits from Vision & Imaging Technology.
Shoppers have almost unlimited options for their retail spending today. To differentiate, retailers leverage technology to improve the shopping experience and keep customers coming back. Image and vision technology is essential in this effort.
Prioritizing inventory accuracy
Regardless of format — brick-and-mortar or online — a positive shopping experience hinges on inventory accuracy. Gone are the days of fulfilling a customer order from a centralized warehouse. Today the physical store has become an inventory location. If a local store has the item, it can quickly be available for pickup or shipment from that location with faster delivery time. This requires hyper inventory accuracy throughout the enterprise. For stores, technology such as handheld imaging scanners and mobile computers, along with vision-based POS devices, ensure local inventory accuracy is maximized.
The same technology that facilitates purchase and delivery can improve the customer experience by unifying multiple delivery or return channels for the consumer. Vision technology provides a unified approach so a customer can buy online, pick up at a store, and have the flexibility to return to a different store location than where the pickup was made. This flexibility reduces the hassles shoppers experience when buying or returning items.
Creating an effortless in-store experience
Vision and imaging technology improves the checkout experience. A major barrier to faster checkout is the struggle to find an item’s bar code for scanning. This applies to all checkouts, including cashier lanes and self-checkout lanes. Technology reduces this frustration in two ways.
Vision systems can see items and identify them without relying on a bar code. Instead of a bar code, other visual cues such as packaging design, volume, shape, and weight can all be used to recognize the item using vision technology. Secondly, imaging systems can detect the Digimarc Barcode, an imperceptible watermark bar code technology, embedded into an item’s label or packaging. This enables a faster checkout process by making every surface scannable and improving readability.
The frustrations of self-checkout can also be greatly improved by adding vision technology to identify items using a visual image. This ability speeds the cashier or self-checkout and can be particularly beneficial for hard-to-identify products, like produce items. Without vision technology, a customer weighing produce must look for a four-digit code to key in. Imaging technology detects the item directly, offering the correct options to the customer, speeding up the transaction.
Datalogic is a global leader in automatic data capture and industrial automation markets and a world-class producer of bar code readers, mobile computers, sensors for detection, measurement and safety, vision systems, imaging technology and laser marking systems. Datalogic offers innovative solutions for a full range of applications in the retail, transportation & logistics, manufacturing and healthcare industries. Datalogic products are used in over a third of the world’s supermarkets and points of sale, airports, shipping and postal services.
About the Authors
Nick Tabet - Vice President, Product Marketing
Nick is responsible for leading Datalogic’s Product Marketing group for fixed retail and transportation and logistics scanning applications to develop market-leading solutions for supermarket, grocery, mass merchandise, and drug stores as well as courier, express, and parcel logistics companies.
Darrell Owen – Vice President, Retail Sales Support
Darrell has over 30 years of experience in the development and implementation of industrial automation systems for manufacturing, transportation, distribution, and warehousing. He currently supports field teams implementing supply chain solutions at retail enterprises.