Barcode Scanners at Work in a Retail System

If you dwell little deeper into the countless beeps that exist at a busy point of sale, you might be left wondering what exactly goes behind every single beep to get the desired outcome in a pre-defined manner.

In order to use a barcode or to avail the benefits of the barcode being present on a product, the very first requirement is of a Barcode Scanner.

What is a Barcode Scanner?

Barcode Scanner, also known as Barcode Reader, is an input device which is used to capture and retrieve information about the product which is being scanned. This helps in automation of the process thereby increasing the speed, accuracy, and efficiency of the business process.

Barcode Scanners may be hand-held, hands-free, fixed mount, or portable data terminals. Another way of categorization can be into image scanners and laser scanners. But they utilize a connection with a computer through a serial port, a keyboard port and a wedge, which is an infrared device. Some major brands in the field of POS automation are Nexa, Epson, Zebra etc.

How does it work?

A Barcode Scanner uses a beam of light which falls on the barcode printed on the product. When this beam of light is deflected from the product, it is measured on the basis of the fact that the dark bars on the barcode reflect less light in comparison to the light spaces between the dark bars. The scanner, then, converts the light energy into electrical energy. This is further converted by the decoder in the form of data as output. This final output is then displayed on the computer screen.

This barcode scanning involves scanning of a particular barcode and then searching through the database of hundreds and thousands of products to match it with the exact one and display relevant details of that product.

Precautions in choosing a Barcode Scanner

Every business has its unique requirements and hence the features and functionality while choosing the automation tools make a difference in the way they alter the environment. While choosing a scanner, it is very important to understand your type of usage, whether it requires indoor scanning at a particular point or it requires scanning products outdoor or both ways. Further, there are different types of bar code symbols which are into existence. Between the standard 1D and 2D symbols used in barcoding, different scanners have different decoding capabilities. The right one depends upon the requirements of your business.

If the environment is exposed to extreme heat, dust, chemicals, debris or moisture, then it is essential to select a scanner which is highly durable and rugged. In case of mobility is one important characteristic, then a wireless scanner is the best choice with which the staff can navigate across the entire premises towards accomplishing the objective of barcode scanner.

By choosing the right barcode scanner for your business, the whole purpose of using barcodes and implementing standardization of business process comes at work. With the barcode scanners beeping at your point of sale, you can be at ease whilst handling larger volumes.

What to Look for in a Retail Point of Sale System, Part 1

It can be challenging to find the right Point of Sale software system for your business. This article provides a checklist of features you should consider when making your decision. In part one, we will look at point-of-sale, customer tracking, and security features.

Point of Sale

This is the heart of a POS system. Does it feature an intuitive user interface? Will you be able to train employees quickly? Can you customize the software for your unique needs? Features to look for:

  • Touch screen support.
  • Customizable menu buttons to access frequently sold items.
  • Customizable receipts and invoices.
  • Ability to email receipts.
  • Ability to create and manage quotes, layaways, special orders and workorders.
  • Ability to manage gift registries.
  • Ability to set up automatic add-on sale suggestions or substitutes for out-of-stock items.
  • In-house gift card/store credit tracking.
  • Ability to import tickets from a remote location, such as a trade show.
  • Ability to interface with credit card processing software. Will you need to switch to a different processor than the one you are currently using?
  • Support for electronic signature capture.
  • Support for debit card cash back.
  • Support for foreign currency.
  • Ability to calculate and track sales tax for different municipalities, different customer types, and different types of inventory items.
  • Ability to manage recurring billings, (for example, subscriptions).
  • Ability to manage tips and customer tabs
  • Ability to compute and track commissions and spiffs.

Customer Tracking

A major benefit of a point-of-sale program is the ability to track customer information and buying habits. This allows you to do targeted marketing to increase sales. Here are some features to look for:

  • Option to store customer photographs (useful if you have a membership program).
  • Ability to print customizable membership cards.
  • Option to track multiple customer types, such as wholesale, presale, member, etc.
  • Ability to track purchases made by each customer, including serial numbers, warranties, and layaways.
  • Ability to create targeted email and/or mailing lists.
  • Ability to send customized email in bulk.
  • Ability to print customized mailing labels.
  • Ability to manage accounts receivable
  • Ability to print and/or email accounts receivable statements.

Security

Your point of sale system can help you prevent employee fraud and assist you in loss prevention. Features to look for:

  • Bad check tracking.
  • Integrated video surveillance.
  • Ability to limit employee access and rights.
  • Option to require login for each sale or after a specified period of inactivity.
  • Security tracking log so you know which employee handled a void, price override, return, etc.