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.

Basic types of barcode software.

Learn about the different types of barcode software (List is not extensive)

Inventory / Fixed Assets 
Track inventory or fixed assets using barcodes.  Examples of inventory:   warehouses shipping out mass produced goods; cleaning supplies kept by a custodian team at a large institution.  Examples of fixed assets tracking:  law offices tracking case documents; mobile equipment such as laptops.

Data Collection
This type of software works with selected scanners to integrate barcodes into existing databases.  Use this type of software if you have an established inventory, fixed assets, or other tracking software that does not offer barcodes.

Lable Printing
Print barcodes on labels. Many of these software suites include the ability to link to a datasource such as a text file, spread sheet, or database. These packages are excellent if you need to label products and shipments or comply with customer package marking requirements.

Software Barcode Fonts
Add barcode capability to the programs you are already using like MS Word or Crystal Reports.  Install to your font directory and use as any other font type.   Fonts are commonly used to place barcodes on documents such as work orders, packing slips, or purchase orders.

Printer Barcode Fonts
Generate and download precise PCL-5 barcode fonts to your laser printer.  Add the correct trigger sequences to documents and the barcode is generated in the printer.   For use with any platform including Windows, Macintosh, Unix, Linux, VMS, and mainframes.  Find replacements for HP’s Barcodes and More™ here.

Devlopement Libraries
Barcode functions for use by software developers. These libraries include linkable subroutines, DLL’s, and ActiveX controls to embed barcode capability within your application.  Libraries can include kits to create barcodes as graphics, fonts, or both.

Pre-Press Artwork Design
Create precise barcode master artwork and export to layout and design software via the clipboard or an encapsulated PostScript file. Excellent for packaging designers.    This kind of software is commonly used to place barcodes on retail product packaging, including books and music CDs.

Bar Code Fonts, Where To Find Them?

There are some excellent bar code fonts out there. We have listed a few resources below.

  • Bitstream makes bar code fonts for 2 of 5, Interleaved 2 of 5, Codabar, Code 128, Code 39, MSI-Plessey, UPC, and Zip Code. The Bitstream site also recommends contacting a Bitstream sales person to see if other bar code fonts are available.
  • BizFonts offers MICR E-13B, CMC-7, OCR, POSTNET, PLANET, PDF417, Code 39, Code 128, DataMatrix, Codabar, UPC, EAN, Interleaved 2 of 5, MSI Plessey, and more, as well as bar code font integration tools.
  • Elfring Fonts has Windows only TrueType and some Type 1 and UNIX/DOS PCL fonts for 2 of 5, 2 of 5 Interleaved, 3 of 9, 93, 128 UCC/EAN, Bookland, Codabar, EAN 8, EAN 13, Postnet, UPC-A, and UPC-E.
  • From RiversEdge you may obtain Code 39, 3 of 9, Full ASCII, Mod 43, Code 128/UCC/EAN128/SCC14/18, Code 93, Codabar, 4 State Australian Postal code, Interleaved 2 of 5, PostNet, FIM & Planet Code, MSI-Plessey (Mod 10/ Mod 11), UPC-A, UPC-E, EAN-13, EAN-8, ISBN, and 2 & 5 digit Supplements in formats for Windows 3.1/95/98/NT/2000/ME/XP (Truetype & Postscript), Macintosh (Truetype & Postscript), Unix Postscript (Postscript Type 1 & Postscript Type 3), UNIX/DOS HP PCL (PCL Softfonts), IBM AFP (Bounded & Unbounded Box), Siemens (Graphmod), and Xerox (Centralized & Decentralized)For Windows 3.1x, 95, 98, ME, NT 3.x, NT 4.x, XP, 2000, CE, Unix, Linux, OS/2, and OS/2 War ID Automation offers speciality Java-based software to print PDF417 2D barcodes.
  • Some Other links…..


The barcode solution

ActiveBarcode is a powerful efficient easy-to-use software package for creating and printing barcodes: Create them for your documents and applications as easy as typing the code. Simply enter the desired characters and select the type. The barcode will be created!

EITHER use the ActiveBarcode Application to create barcodes as images and place them into documents and projects:

Create the barcode using the ActiveBarcode Application and copy it into your document using the Windows clipboard function.

OR you embed the ActiveBarcode Objekt (OCX) into your document or project:

Use “Insert/Object” to embed a barcode control into your document. You can change this barcode directly in your document.

Click one of the following links to see an example of how to add barcodes to your documents: standard applications (e.g. Office, Excel, Word, Access, WordPro, Quattro Pro, Freelance, Freehand MX, OpenOffice.org, Lotus Notes, Image Editors, WordPad, etc.)

Examples of usage: [more..]
Click here to view the manual of ActiveBarcode Application
ActiveBarcode App.
Click here to see how to use ActiveBarcode in Visual Basic
Visual Basic
Click here to see how to add a barcode to an Excel sheet
Click here to see how to use ActiveBarcode in Notes

Or watch one of our videos to learn how easy it is to use ActiveBarcode.


ActiveBarcode and Office software:
You can use ActiveBarcode in most standard applications (e.g. Office, Excel, Word, Access, WordPro, Quattro Pro, Freelance, Freehand MX, OpenOffice.org, Lotus Notes, Image Editors, WordPad, etc.) Barcodes can be easily embedded into your document.

ActiveBarcode for developers:
Developers use ActiveBarcode like any control. Extend your applications with barcode technology with this effective and powerful control. For example with Visual Basic, C#, C++, J#, .NET, Delphi, Access, Lotus Notes, REAL basic, Visual Basic Script, OpenOffice Basic, Visual Basic for Applications: Word, Excel, …

Easy printing:
Very easy printing of barcodes into forms or on label sheets.
Just enter the size and position of the required barcode and the barcode will be printed exactly to your sheet!
ActiveBarcode for Internet/Intranet:
ActiveBarcode can be used as ASP or PHP server component for IIS or Apache 2 to create barcodes dynamically on the server. A barcode will be created inside a HTML file by using a simple IMG tag. The barcode will be created on the server als PNG image and sent to the browser. No temporary files will be created on the server and the client does not need any plug in’s. A great solution to create barcodes in an Internet or Intranet project.

Example for a IMG tag:
<img src=”barcodeimage.asp?code=CODE128&text=ActiveBarcode
&showtext=1&width=360&height=100″ width=”360″ height=”100″ />

Barcodes at the command line:
Create barcode image files from the command line, inside batch programs or within scripts. Use parameters to set the barcode type, content, size and more. The barcode will be saved in the desired image format (BMP, JPEG, PNG, TIF, TGA, GIF, WMF, EMF, PBM, PGM, PPM, XMP, WBMP).
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