It doesn’t require a genius to know a little about barcode technology. Barcodes have now existed for a very long time and no one would dispute that this particular technology is not very revolutionary. Yet, this simple and modest technology might have something going when it comes to mobile technology.

You may ask, why anyone would use barcode technology when there is near field communication (NFC) and other more advanced tools. The answer is, barcodes are very simple and can easily be integrated within applications rendering them quite useful, especially when you are selling products. A barcode reader can read and output printed barcodes with the help of a computer.

All it requires is a light source, a lens and a light sensor that will help in translating optical stimuli to electronic data. Barcode readers also come with decoders that help to analyze barcode data and then send the content to an output port. With this in mind, it should not come as a surprise that barcode technology is simple but useful to use and can easily be integrated into applications that aren’t specifically designed for barcode reading.

In other words, barcode technology can help your existing or future ecommerce application to act as if it were on steroids, even while using a technology that has existed for years. Nothing revolutionary but certainly very useful. In this article, let us take a look at why integrating barcode scanning technology into mobile apps may be such a good idea.

What are the technological prerequisites for barcode scanning integration?

Cellphone cameras that do not have auto-focus are not very suitable for barcode reading or scanning. It is important that a cellphone has at least a minimal camera capability before being able to read the barcode. However, 2D barcodes and codes such as the QR Code and Data Matrix work well with or without auto-focus. This is one of the reasons why so many app developers are using QR codes even when they are quite old-fashioned themselves.

Now, NFC is not always supported on every cellphone. However, QR codes can be read on any cellphone that has a functioning camera. For this reason alone, a number of app developers are looking at integrating barcode scanning technology, in the form of QR Code reading so that people can easily read and send information just by taking pictures.

This has worked well with most clients who try to keep information secure yet freely available, without users having to enter or type a lot of data. For example, contact cards are shared using QR Codes, while product information can similarly be shared as well. These common barcode formats ensure that codes are quickly and accurately read so that prospects do not lose interest in taking action to your call.

Barcode scanning can help you in a number of ways. Some of the applications can be as follows:

  1. Movies and music: If you are offering some kind of entertainment related sales, it becomes easier to barcode CD catalogs, MP3 playing, DVD/VHS catalogs and others. This helps to keep a count of titles sold and also, people will not have to physically search for titles. All the information related to a particular title will be visible on their screens.
  2. Books and magazines: Similar to music and movies, books and magazines can easily be barcoded as well. Most books have an ISBN number. Books also have other information such as number of pages, weight, volume, hard or paper bound, and other such information. All this can easily be stored in barcodes which consumers can easily read on their mobile devices.
  3. Consumer goods: Goods such as groceries, perishables, non-perishables and other products can be barcoded. If you are selling them online, it just becomes easier to repeatedly sell the same goods without having to burden the user to enter information again and again. This also helps to enter nutrition information and even making shopping lists. Life simply becomes easier.
  4. Personal property inventory: If you thought this was all that barcodes could do, they can also help in more serious matters such as information that is required to be entered into personal finance software. Scanned receipt images can be associated with appropriate entries and paper copies can slowly be eradicated. This helps in going green as well.
  5. Retailers: No matter what you sell, barcodes help in cataloguing and tracking all goods and products that are sold. Moreover, consumers will not have to ask you questions each time they visit your store, online or offline. They simply have to take a picture of the barcode and all the information about that particular product will be available to them.

Maintaining barcode experience across devices

Of course, you can ensure that the better cellphone your user has, the better your app experience will be. People who use the simplest of camera cellphones may use the simple barcode scanning on your application. However, if it is a smartphone with auto-focus camera, Google’s Android, Apple’s iOS and Microsoft’s Windows Mobile can all be used to scan barcodes.

While Apple’s iOS does not have barcode scanning technology built into, there are a number of third party tools that can help in scanning barcodes. Certainly, one only needs to decide upon using barcode scanning within their apps so that there is less burden on both the app owners and the users, when it comes to information collecting and reading.

Looking ahead

Barcodes are ubiquitous and they make things really easy for consumers to gain information about your product. Similarly, you can use barcodes as a marketing strategy to help consumers get the information they want about the products that you are selling. The best part about all this is that barcode scanning technology can be integrated within applications, even if the app is designed for a different purpose.

If you are considering upgrading your existing application with barcode technology or plan to integrate barcode scanning with your brand new app, it is quite easy to do so. All you need to do is have a talk with your consultant and a customized approach may be taken.

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