Types of scanning setups
You don’t necessarily have to buy a separate barcode scanner made for that purpose only – there are other ways to scan products if you have the hardware and retail software to support it.
The different scanning methods can be grouped into:
- Standalone barcode scanners – these have no other function than scanning barcodes or other types of codes.
- Scanning with a mobile device – a smartphone or tablet uses an app to read barcodes through the mobile device camera.
- Scanning with a card machine – a card payment terminal with a built-in camera that reads barcodes.
The most common setup with a barcode scanner is a standalone scanner connected to a POS system. This allows checkout staff to quickly scan items from a customer’s shopping basket to add them to a bill on the register.
Warehouse workers or stocktake staff can get standalone inventory scanners, which are mobile devices designed to record stock information directly on it. These are expensive and typically have a screen and keypad, though modern versions look more like a smartphone with just a touchscreen. They are not for retail checkouts.
If we go back to POS systems, you can avoid buying a freestanding barcode scanner with the following.
Certain apps like Zettle Go (simple POS system) and Lightspeed Scanner (works with Lightspeed for Retail) allow you to scan with your phone by activating the camera when you need to scan something. These apps tend to work with iPhone and iPad only.
Many modern card machines – mainly smart POS terminals with a touchscreen – also have a camera built in that can scan barcodes. Some examples with scanning capability include Zettle Terminal, myPOS Slim, PAX A920 and Verifone V240m.
If using this sort of camera technology, the payment software in the barcode-scanning device is designed to recognise barcode patterns in a photo and identify the product it’s associated with.