While one may not need to be an avid Harry Potter fan to understand the significance of a magic wand to a wizard, not everyone may understand the crucial role that a barcode scanner plays in the modern-day retail industry. Today, almost comparable to a magic wand, most retail businesses rely on a simple wave of a barcode scanner for instant access to all product details and to efficiently track sales, conduct inventory management, as well as accomplish other product-related tasks.
Nevertheless, sourcing the right barcode scanner stock from the many available options in the market might not be a straightforward task. Continue reading to explore the market potential of barcode scanners, essential factors to consider when selecting them, and the top types of barcode scanners to look out for in 2023.
The global market for barcode scanners: An overview
The worldwide market for barcode scanners, primarily fueled by the strong demand in the retail industry, was valued at US$ 7.55 billion in 2021 and is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.80% to reach US$ 11.85 Billion by 2028.
Another report with a longer forecast period up to 2033 anticipates the global barcode scanner market to be worth US$ 8.10 billion by 2023, with a CAGR of 7.6%, ultimately attaining an estimated value of US$ 16.86 billion by 2033.
The North American region is unanimously reckoned as the dominant market for barcode scanners, with an estimated contribution of more than 30% of the total market value. The demand for barcode scanners in North America is projected to remain upbeat. The increasing demands in the healthcare industry are driving the need for barcode scanners in North America, whereas, on the international front, the major growth sectors also include the retail and manufacturing industries.
Essential considerations for barcode scanner selection
There are a range of barcode scanners available in the market, each with different limitations according to its respective specifications. That is why when choosing the right model, sellers should keep the following factors in mind:
1. Type of barcode being scanned
Similar to most hardware, the categorization of barcode scanners is highly dependent on their capabilities, specifically the types of barcodes they can scan. These capabilities are determined by the barcode symbologies – the unique encoding methods used to represent data in various barcode formats. Linear, 2D, and stacked symbologies are some of the most common types of barcode symbologies available in the industry.
Linear barcode, also known as 1D barcode is the most basic code type with a simple composition of a mere single line of bars and spaces. It is also the most commonly used barcode type judging from its simplicity and compatibility with almost all types of barcode scanners. The simplicity of this type of barcode, however, also signifies a limitation in terms of the quantity of data or information that can be stored.
2D barcodes, on the other hand, consist of two-dimensional patterns in a grid design, formed by squares, dots, or hexagons. These robust patterns not only store more information but also include built-in error correction functions. In terms of compatibility, naturally, linear or 1D barcode scanners are compatible with linear codes, and 2D barcode scanners can cover both 1D and 2D barcodes.
In essence, stacked barcodes are still using one-dimensional encoding, but they can store more data by stacking more rows on top of one another. Since stacked barcodes are essentially a combination of multiple 1D barcodes, a 2D barcode scanner is generally capable enough to scan these codes. Unless, when one is dealing with specialized, sophisticated stacked barcodes, then a dedicated stacked barcode scanner is needed.
Apart from these three widely popular barcode symbologies, composite and matrix barcodes, which either combine linear barcodes with 2D barcodes or come with a matrix of dots designed to provide more data capacity are some other specialized barcode examples. However, since they are after all still 2D in nature, they can still be classified as part of the 2D symbologies. Taking into account the above, 2D code readers are the clear winner that can cover most barcode types of scanning.
2. Scanning distance
Upon considering the types of barcodes involved, the next factor that any wholesalers should pay attention to is their targeted scanning distance. This element poses a direct impact on the mobility aspect of barcode scanner selections.
Given their limited mobility, fixed-mount or stationary barcode scanners are undoubtedly best suited to any close-range scanning requirement, while handheld barcode scanners or wearable barcode scanners provide much greater versatility in terms of scanning distance and mobility.
In other words, fixed-mount barcode scanners are ideal for limited scanning range and where the scanner is placed in a fixed position, such as at a checkout counter. Handheld barcode scanners, on the other hand, are more suitable for applications that require the user to move around, such as in warehouses or retail stores.
Meanwhile, the scanning range of fixed-mount and handheld scanners may differ based on their respective models. Therefore, it’s crucial to take both the scanning range and mobility requirements into account when sourcing barcode scanners.
Once the wholesalers decide on the mobility of the barcode scanners, the types of connectivity are the next thing that all wholesalers should consider in order to make the right choice. It is important to note that the physical design of the barcode scanners does not have a direct correlation with their connectivity, a fixed-mount barcode scanner can be either wired or wirelessly connected, and the connectivity does not restrict its physical mobility.
In fact, connectivity is highly relevant to the stability and scanning speed of the barcode scanners. For example, wired connectivity tends to ensure a more stable connection compared to wireless connectivity and is typically faster in terms of scanning speed.
In any case, the significantly enhanced flexibility and portability offered by wireless connectivity may well compensate for the slightly slower scanning speeds and reduced stability often associated with such connections.
And thankfully, although there may be instances where wireless connectivity is slower than a wired connection, modern wireless technologies have greatly improved their speed and reliability, so the difference may not be as significant as it once was now.
Naturally speaking, the simpler functions the barcode scanners can offer, the lower their prices are, whereas the more comprehensive, advanced models fetch higher prices.
Competitive wholesale prices for simple 1D barcode scanners may go as low as under US$ 5 for bulk wholesale orders. Meanwhile, wholesale prices for middle-range 2D barcode scanners can go as low as under US$ 50, while the higher range may range from US$ 200+ onwards.
Other considerations that buyers might like to keep in mind include durability, directionality of the scan, software compatibility, and ease of use. Since some barcode scanners may be best suited for outdoor usage (and therefore may possibly command a higher price), durability in particular should be taken into account for retail environments that require harsh conditions usage.
From an operational perspective, directionality can affect both operation efficiency and speed since non-omnidirectional barcode scanners require the barcode to be aligned in a specific direction which can easily lead to errors and slower operation. Software compatibility and ease of use, meanwhile, also increase the versatility of the barcode scanners to work with multiple operating systems and applications.
Top barcode scanners types to explore in 2023
As the name suggests, handheld barcode scanners are usually lightweight and compact, with an ergonomic design that may easily fit into one’s palm. For example, this 1D handheld barcode scanner prides itself on its comfortable design, shock resistance, and high-speed scanning capabilities as well as plug-and-play usability.
As depicted in the picture below, most handheld barcode scanners are simple 1D wired barcode scanners that are equipped with wired USB interfaces and are often far more affordable for wholesale bulk purchases.
In fact, the wholesale prices for wired handheld barcode scanners that are capable of supporting both 1D and 2D barcodes scanning can go as low as around US$ 5+ per piece when ordered in bulk, including a 1D and 2D wired handheld omnidirectional barcode scanner which offers 360-degree scanning angle for quick and accurate scanning of barcodes via any direction.
Wireless handheld barcode scanners that can work on both 1D and 2D barcodes, however, are subject to substantially higher wholesale prices even when ordered in large quantities and may cost twice as much as those wired handheld scanners.
At the same time, since not all barcode scanners enclose with compatible scanner cradlers, which are essential for placement as well as to transform them into stable, stationary devices whenever needed, wholesalers could explore such barcode scanner accessory markets to expand their product offerings.
Desktop barcode scanners, often also known as fixed-mount or stationary barcode scanners, function in total contrast to the way handheld barcode scanners do, which is to actively scan barcodes.
With desktop scanners, the codes are brought to them instead, while they remain passive throughout the scanning process. The most obvious benefit of such an arrangement is that it enables hands-free operation, which can be particularly helpful in rapid or high-volume scanning required environments. For example, this omnidirectional desktop barcode scanner is specialized for outlets with large retail demands such as supermarkets that can achieve as high as 1800 scans speed per second.
Meanwhile, since desktop barcode scanners are fixed-mounted, the likelihood of damage is greatly reduced. Certain stationary barcode scanners are also made to be rugged devices to work under challenging outdoor conditions, by including additional features such as water resistant function.
As shown in the image below, many desktop barcode scanners are designed in a way that can be seamlessly integrated into other hardware, such as conveyor belts or cashier systems, while also supporting easy integration to existing software, making them ideal for supermarket and minimart operations.
Even though the majority of desktop barcode scanners are wired models, there are also some wireless desktop barcode scanners available in the market today. However, wholesalers should be aware that wireless fixed-mount barcode scanners tend to be more expensive compared to their wired counterparts.
Wireless barcode scanners serve as an improved connectivity option compared to wired scanners in order to connect a barcode scanner to a computer or mobile device to “decode” the information.
Since connectivity is crucial for displaying scanned information on screens and for storage purposes, wireless barcode scanners have become the preferred choice over wired scanners.
Wireless barcode scanners can offer much greater flexibility and freedom in terms of scanning proximity. Any potential cable cluttering problems are significantly lowered since there is no cabling involved. In contrast to many wired scanners that can only support a few centimeters to a few meters, wireless scanners can easily support a few meters up to 100 meters of range using Bluetooth technology or 2.4G wireless technology.
For instance, a wireless barcode scanner utilizing Bluetooth connectivity coupled with 2.4G wireless technology that is most suitable for cashier usage can be seen as shown in the picture below:
To satisfy long-range scanning requirements, the majority of barcode scanners utilize 2.4G wireless technology. Wireless barcode scanners adopting such wireless technology can support up to 100m scanning distance or even up to a 150m maximum range.
Meanwhile, looking through the lens of design, barcode scanners with wireless connectivity also significantly boost the design flexibility and potential as they are no longer constrained by tangled, long cables. A wireless barcode scanner that supports both Bluetooth and 2.4G wireless connectivity, featuring a pocket-size portable design is one such good example.
As a final point, the battery life of the wireless barcode scanner should also be one of the most crucial factors to be taken into account. An example of a wireless barcode scanner with a substantially longer standby life is one with a built-in 2000mAh battery, which may last for up to 3-5 days.
Scan the horizon
The fast expansion of the healthcare and retail sectors in the North American area, which is largely driving the rising use of barcode scanners in the retail sector, signifies an attractive prospect for a variety of barcode scanners. When looking for barcode scanners, wholesalers should ponder upon a number of factors, including the types of barcodes that will be scanned, the distance at which they will be scanned, connectivity options, price levels, and a few other miscellaneous factors, particularly the durability and directionality of the scan. Handheld scanners, desktop scanners, and wireless scanners are three different types of barcode scanners that wholesalers can look into in 2023. Proceed to navigate through the different sections available on Alibaba Reads to find valuable guidance and insights to better equip your business with essential wholesale business knowledge.