Wincor Nixdorf High Speed Checkout with 360 Scanners.

360 Scanners Revolutionize Checkout With High-Speed Automatic Scanning

360 Scanner from Wincor NixdorfFor many people, grocery shopping is a dreaded chore. It means having to make a list, fight traffic, snag a parking spot, bump your way through a labyrinth of aisles, shoppers, and shopping carts and sort through thousands of products, brands, and prices in order to collect your necessities and hopefully stay within your budget. By the time you are ready to check out and pay, having to choose between a long line of overflowing carts and a persnickety old self-checkout machine might be enough to make you cry.

Here at The BarCode News, we are always on the lookout for new technology that will improve the shopping experience for customers, and increase efficiency for business owners. Once in a while, something comes along that seems revolutionary. 360 scanners for checkout lines indeed fits that category.

Imagine, instead of a cashier having to handle every item in your cart, or you having to play spin the bottle with your ketchup at the self-checkout, you simply place your items on a conveyor belt where they are automatically scanned by the time they get to the bagging station. This is possible with 360 scanners.

As the name denotes, 360 scanners are capable of scanning a product bar code from 360 degrees, so it does not matter how the item is placed on the conveyor belt. The machines perform automatic scanning on multiple bar codes at a time, processing items at a speed twice as fast as traditional scanners (up to 60 items per minute), with 98 percent accuracy. If an faulty bar code cannot be scanned or an item requires age-verification, then the 360 scanner snaps a picture of the item and displays it to the checkout attendant for quick resolution.

Both Wincor Nixdorf Inc. and Fujitsu have introduced 360 scanners for use in grocery and high-volume retail environments.360 Scanner from Wincor Nixdorf

Wincor Nixdorf developed the 360 Scan portal as part of their advanced Automated Checkout Suite, with the partnership ofDatalogic Scanning andRoyston LLC. Wincor’s 360 Scan portal is built with the new 360-degree automatic scanning technology, to speed up checkout lines, improve the customer experience as well as increase operational efficiency.

The software is flexible so that the 360 Scan Portal can be used either as a self-checkout or with an attendant during high-traffic hours. Since the attendant does not have to scan the items, he or she can simply bag up the groceries so that the customer is ready to pay and go by the time the cart is unloaded. The system is so efficient that it can allow one attendant to serve two lines at a time. It is also customizable for different retail environments and multiple payment methods.

Fujitsu also introduced a 360 scanner at last year’s NRF. Fujitsu’s 360 scanner also boasts 98+% scanning accuracy and the ability to manage faulty bar codes and restricted items with ease.

The Advantage Checkout 360 scanner enhances the customer checkout experience and potentially reduces the number of checkout lanes, allowing staff to move to other valuable activities. The checkout system’s Metrologic scanner/scale functions with six-sided, 360° scanning and integrated electronic article surveillance (EAS).

Watch this video from Wincor to see how the 360 scanner works:

www.wincor-nixdorf.com/usa.

http://solutions.us.fujitsu.com

(Images courtesy of Wincor Nixdorf Inc.)

Advertisements

‘Smart’ packaging opens digital opportunities for food brands

As noted in our recent trend report on food, packaging can be a gateway to more information and content via QR codes and similar technologies. The idea isn’t new (especially in some markets), but consumers are only gradually taking to it—5 percent of American adults with a mobile phone scan any kind of 2D barcode, up from 1 percent in 2010, according to a recent Forrester study—and brands are still testing ideas around it.

Games are one value offering. In the U.K., Cadbury uses Blippar technology to enable augmented reality-style games on chocolate bar packaging. Tic Tac recently launched an AR game in which the mint box serves as background as the player tosses mints into the mouth of a 3-D character. Codes can also lead consumers to more information, like recipes or sourcing. Kraft recently added QR codes to several cheese products, giving users ideas about how to use them. In Vancouver, Foodtree is teaming up with restaurants to offer QR codes on menus that tell diners about where ingredients come from.

Another idea: General Mills’ CMO suggested to USA Today that the traditional surprise inside a cereal box could become a phone-based “visual surprise.” The cereal box is an appealing platform, with plenty of real estate and a spot in front of people eating breakfast. Last year Kellogg’s saw a respectable response to QR codes on its newly launched Crunchy Nut cereal in the U.S.

Watch for a wave of experimentation from brands seeking to tap new opportunities to extend their message and create a new channel for everything from coupons and loyalty rewards to education and entertainment. See “What’s Cooking?” for additional examples.

Sainsbury looks to promote Fairtrade with the help of QR codes

The Fairtrade Fortnight event has begun in the United Kingdom. The event aims to promote awareness of Faritrade goods – those produced through humane means. Sainsbury, one of the world’s largest supermarket chains, has announced that it will be taking part in the event by adding QR codes to many of its products. The company hopes to inform consumers about how beneficial purchasing Fairtrade products is to farmers in the world’s most impoverished countries.

Sainsbury's QR Code
All of the Fairtrade branded products carried in Sainsbury’s stores throughout the UK will feature their own QR codes. When scanned with a smart phone, consumers will be taken to a mobile website where they will learn the various aspects of Fairtrade. The company notes that money generated from selling Fairtrade goods is making a profound difference for businesses and communities around the world. At present, all of Sainsbury’s lines of bananas, roast and ground coffee, plain cotton t-shirts, roses and tea are acquired through Fairtrade means.

In 2010, Sainsbury’s efforts to support Fairtrade brought in over $3 million in investments to the Fairtrade Foundation. This money has been used to improve the quality of life for workers living in impoverish countries. Sainsbury expects to see continued success in this endeavor and believes that this success will be enhanced through the use of QR codes and, in the future, other mobile technologies.

For more information on Fairtrade: http://www.fairtrade.org.uk/

Look customers in the eyes to lock them in the aisles.

Shopkeepers adopt the hard sell with some tailored software, writes Mark Russell.

IN THE film Minority Report set in 2054, a brewer’s advertising billboard identifies Tom Cruise’s character, John Anderton, through a retinal scanner. As he walks past, the billboard calls out: ”John Anderton! You could use a Guinness right about now.”

Far-fetched? Not according to retailers who believe this type of targeted advertising may well be the future of shopping.

New York company Immersive Labs is already using built-in cameras and facial recognition software in its outdoor billboards to determine the gender and age of passers-by so it can customise the advertisement on display to suit them and prompt sales.

So if a man strolls by on a cold morning, the display might change from an ad for women’s clothing to an advertisement suggesting a cup of coffee at a nearby cafe.

As Australian online shopping – expected to be worth $21.3 billion this financial year and $30.8 billion by 2015-16 – continues to threaten bricks-and-mortar businesses, retailers are using the latest technology, combined with social media, including more shopping apps, to lure customers back into their stores.

German shoemaker adidas is planning to install touch-sensitive display walls in stores from next year. The virtual footwear wall will allow customers to view the company’s entire range of 4000 pairs of shoes. If a customer likes a particular shoe the store will order it in.

Two cameras above the screen will watch shoppers’ reactions to determine which shoes are most popular. And like other companies, adidas is also gathering feedback by encouraging customers to use Facebook and Twitter to review its products.

Brisbane company Yeahpoint believes its MiMirror creation is the missing link between instore shopping and social media that will revolutionise fashion retail.

MiMirror is a touch-screen display with a camera that acts as a mirror and takes up to six photographs of customers in outfits they are considering buying. The shoppers then email the images to friends or post them on Facebook to get a second opinion.

No retailers have installed the technology yet, but the company is confident major stores will buy the device in coming months.

”The factors driving retailers’ decisions for the future are basically that the cost of business continues to increase and competitiveness in the retail environment is being challenged by the online market,” Yeahpoint’s John Anderson says.

”On the flip side, you have the time-poor consumer who wants to have a much more friendly, fun shopping experience.”

Sean Sands, of Monash University’s Australian Centre for Retail Studies, agrees, saying many consumers are bored with traditional retail and the only way to lure them back into stores is to offer the latest technology linked to social media.

A recent report released by the centre found that online shopping was creating tougher in-store customers because they were ”better informed due to the power of the internet”.

Half the population now research their purchases online before setting foot in a store.

Many are also armed with a wide range of shopping apps that can be downloaded on to iPhones, iPod Touches, iPads and other tablets and smartphones, that allow them to hunt for the best deals.

The RedLaser app, for example, allows instore shoppers to scan the barcode of an item to get the price and then checks online to see if it’s cheaper elsewhere.

Supermarket giant Coles’ ShopMate app, which notes specials and lets you cross off your shopping list as you go, has been downloaded 400,000 times.

Rival Woolworths does not have a shopping app but has one to locate missing trolleys.

Woolies’ app-lessness is not likely to last, however, as retailers respond to consumer demand.

Russell Zimmerman, of the Australian Retailers Association, says ”every retailer has to be in the online space in the foreseeable future” or they won’t survive.

According to PayPal, 8 million Australians buy goods using the internet, and one in 10 buy them with their mobile phones.

Google Australia’s head of retail, Ross McDonald, says this increasing use of mobile phones to search for stores and products has become a noticeable trend in the past six months.

Previously, 95 per cent of online traffic for shopping searches was from computers but 16-18 per cent of online inquiries were now from mobile phones. ”What we advise retailers is that it’s not so much about the app but making sure you are visible on a mobile device when someone searches for you,” he says.

Jo Lynch from Myer – which has an iPhone app that lets you peruse and buy goods with a tap of your finger – says the company expects its online business to generate sales of $5 million for 2010-11 and be worth up to six times that in the next few years.

David Jones’ Brett Riddington says the future of shopping is all about multi-channel retailing. ”Many customers will still want to go in-store to physically see the goods after checking them out online, but we need to make that a more entertaining and engaging experience,” he says.

The brains behind retail revolution

More than 5 billion bar codes are scanned in shops worldwide every day

Alan Haberman, who died on June 12 aged 81, was largely responsible for standardizing the bar code’s design and introducing it into the world’s supermarkets, a development that has revolutionized retailing and countless other activities.

Bar codes, also known as universal price codes, were invented in 1949 by Norman Woodland and Bernard Silver, who had the idea of vertically extending the dots and dashes of Morse code and using it to encode product data. They secured a patent in 1952, but because scanning technology was in its infancy, their invention went largely unused.

Over the next 20 years, some manufacturers and retailers introduced their own product coding systems, but there was no standardization and, as a result, grocery manufacturers such as Kellogg’s and General Mills feared that they would be forced to produce different packaging for each supermarket chain.

In the early 1970s Haberman, who was executive vice-president of First National Stores in Boston, convened a committee to choose a standard symbol that could be used across America. By this time the original patent had lapsed, and the committee examined submissions from several companies including colourcoded, dots and dashes and bull’s-eye designs. Although many technology experts favoured the “bull’s eye,” which could be easily read by a scanner, Haberman came out firmly in favour of cheaper black-and-white vertical bars, created by George Laurer of IBM.

On June 26, 1974 a supermarket cashier in Troy, Ohio, became the first person to swipe a bar code (on a 67-cent pack of Wrigley’s chewing gum) across a scanner, but the new system took some time to catch on. Early scanners cost $10,000 and tended to be unreliable; in 1976 Business Week ran an article with the headline “The Supermarket Scanner That Failed.” By the early 1980s, despite Haberman’s best efforts, fewer than 30 per cent of supermarkets in America were using his universal price code design. The breakthrough came when the “pile-’em-high-sell-’em-cheap” retailers got in on the act. In 1984 Walmart, Kmart and Bullocks decided to introduce the bar code and other chains soon followed suit. As the system developed, it enabled retailers to keep track of inventory with unparalleled accuracy, making possible the introduction of “just-in-time” ordering, minimizing the need for storage and waste, and providing a huge range of sales data which allowed greater responsiveness to customer demands.

Despite resistance from conspiracy theorists, who considered bar codes to be intrusive surveillance technology, and from some Christians who thought the codes hid the number 666, more than five billion of the codes are now scanned in shops worldwide every day; the technology has yielded savings running into the trillions of dollars.

Bar codes have also spread into many other fields, from allowing airlines to locate lost luggage to helping beekeepers to monitor the movements of honeybees, via tiny bar codes attached to their backs.

Haberman compared the development of the bar code with the Biblical story of creation: “Go back to Genesis,” he advised an interviewer in 2004. “God says I will call the night ‘night,’ I will call the heavens ‘heaven’. Naming was important. Then the Tower of Babel came along and messed everything up. In effect, the (bar code) has put everything back into one language, a kind of Esperanto, that works for everyone.”

Alan Lloyd Haberman was born in Worcester, Mass., on July 27, 1929. After taking a degree in American History and Literature at Harvard, he took an MBA from Harvard Business School. He worked briefly on Wall Street before joining Hills Supermarkets as executive vice-president.

Retailers Prepare for DataBar technology

There is a new type of barcode being introduced, but when is this happening and what do retailers need to do to prepare for it?

Global standards organisation GS1 has been working on the introduction of its DataBar (which is about half the size of a normal barcode) for several years. The DataBar will exist alongside present barcodes, rather than being a replacement for them.

The new barcode standard was due to become an open global standard in 2010 – meaning that all retailers would have needed equipment that was capable of scanning them by then. However, GS1 has revised this date to 2014 to give retailers more time to adopt appropriate scanning technology.

GS1 UK solutions manager Tim Brown says: “Scanners supplied from 2000 onwards generally can scan the DataBar.” So most major UK retailers will already have scanners at their tills that are compliant with the standard. However, he says retailers should still check, as their systems might require an upgrade or need the functionality turned on.

However, UK retailers are already investigating how they can best use the DataBar because it carries more information than a traditional barcode. Information on batch or serial numbers, expiry dates and price can be encoded in a DataBar.

UPC Bar Code Marks 35th Anniversary

image001This week marks the 35th anniversary of the Universal Product Code (UPC), a milestone that will be celebrated this Wednesday with over 800 attendees at the annual U Connect Conference in Orlando by GS1 US, the developer and administrator of the bar code that now appears on more than 200,000 businesses in the United States.

One of the world’s best-known symbols, the UPC comprises a row of 59 machine-readable black and white bars and 12 human-readable digits. Both the bars and the digits convey the same information: the identity of a specific product and its manufacturer.

Originally developed to help supermarkets speed up the checkout process, the first live use of a UPC took place in a Marsh Supermarkets store in Troy, Ohio, on June 26, 1974, when a cashier scanned a package of Wrigley’s gum. It ushered in extraordinary economic and productivity gains for shoppers, retailers and manufacturers alike, with estimated annual cost savings of $17 billion in the grocery sector alone, according to one study.

“The UPC made the modern retail store possible,” said Rodney McMullen, vice chairman of The Kroger Co., which operates more than 4,000 stores in different formats and under different banners, or names. “It allows us to carry tens of thousands of items in a given store and move shoppers through quickly while offering them many different ways to save money.”

Every UPC incorporates three elements — the brand owner’s GS1 company prefix, the specific item’s reference number, and a check digit, which is calculated by the combination of the preceding numbers and ensures data accuracy. Contrary to one popular myth, however, the ubiquitous bar code does not contain a product’s country of origin.

Neverheless, the UPC is one manifestation of the Global Trade Item Number, a foundational aspect of the GS1 System that enables consistent, standard identification of products and other items in the supply chain globally.
The next generation bar code, GS1 DataBar, can be found increasingly on coupons and loose produce such as apples, pears, and tomatoes. On Jan. 1, 2010, its “sunrise date,” supermarkets will begin scanning and processing the GS1 DataBar, which can be configured in different formats to fit a smaller space or carry additional information, such as “best before” or expiration dates, or lot numbers.

For more information, visit www.GS1US.org.

%d bloggers like this: