Questions To Ask Before Choosing A Barcode Scanner

How do you choose a barcode scanner for your business? There are several important questions you need to ask as you look over the many different choices available.

One of the first things to consider is the purpose for which you’ll be using it. Do you need a scanner for point-of-sale purchases? Inventory management? Another purpose entirely? There are many options for all of these purposes, and you need to consider them carefully.

Barcode scanners can be categorized into several different styles, including pen-type, wand-type, hands-free and fixed-mount. But there are two main categories that most of them fall into.

The Main Types of Barcode Scanners

two main types of barcode scanners

Laser barcode scanners. The most common type of barcode scanner device, laser barcode scanners are the more cost-effective option of the two. They’re often only able to read simple black-and-white barcodes (known as 1D or linear barcodes), and they use a simple red diode laser to read the markings on a barcode label.

Laser barcode scanners have either linear or omnidirectional scan patterns. Omnidirectional barcode scanners have the advantage of a much wider scan radius, which means that you don’t have to center the scanner over the item in question. This makes them usable in many more applications when compared to linear scanners.

Image barcode scanners. Image barcode scanners are more expensive than laser versions and use a form of image capture technology to scan barcodes before decoding them with digital image processing software. This makes them slightly more sophisticated and means that they can be used for a wider variety of tasks than a simple laser barcode scanner.

While image barcode scanners and laser barcode scanners are the two main options when it comes to barcode scanning devices, some companies have begun adopting mobile applications for barcode scanning. These applications allow tablets and mobile phones to function as barcode scanners in lieu of image or laser scanners.

Barcode scanner applications are great for employees who only have to scan a barcode every once in a while, or who work in an area where using a regular barcode scanner might not be practical. One of the best things about these kinds of apps is that they’re usually cross-compatible with existing software and devices. Some companies have started to implement this by allowing employees in scanning-intensive roles to bring their own devices or use company-supplied devices.

Now that we’ve provided a bit of background on the main types of barcode scanner devices available, we can take a look at some of the questions you need to ask before choosing a barcode scanner.

Questions To Ask Before Choosing A Barcode Scanner

When it comes to deciding what kind of barcode scanner is best for your company, there are several questions you need to consider.

These four are the most important when it comes to choosing a barcode scanner.

  • How will a barcode scanner and relevant management software and solutions improve my inventory management processes? You need to be able to define your business’s need for barcode scanners and the inventory management software that comes with them. A good companion question to ask would be “why is my company looking to purchase barcode scanners and the related technology?” If you can answer this question, you should have a good handle on your expectations and requirements so you can choose the solution that’s right for you.
  • Does the company or companies providing this software or these scanners have experience with their implementation in my industry? Before purchasing or investing heavily in any solution, take a good look at the provider’s credentials. If a company you’re considering purchasing from doesn’t have experience in your industry, they may not be able to provide the best recommendations.
  • Does the vendor my company is considering using offer all of the services that I or my employees need? The vendor you choose to use can make or break how well your barcode scanners are implemented at your company, or even whether they’re implemented at all. Whether it’s first-round implementation services or ongoing updates and support, you need to take a look at what you require of the vendor and decide for yourself if they meet the needs you require.
  • Does the solution I’m considering integrate with my company’s current software? If not, is an upgrade worth it? When it comes to deciding what barcode scanning solution you’re going to implement at your company, this is probably the most important question to consider.

You want to be able to provide your company with a solution that integrates flawlessly with the existing enterprise resource planning or accounting software. If such a solution doesn’t exist, you may have to devise elaborate workarounds to join the new system to the old technology. In cases where workarounds don’t exist, you may have to invest in more technology than you initially planned on.

Questions To Find The Right Barcode Scanner Vendor

After you get those main questions answered, there are other, smaller-scale questions that can help you determine which of your potential vendors are best for use with your company’s inventory management.

Once you pick a vendor to purchase barcode scanners and the relevant software from, ask yourself one or more of the following questions. They’ll help you decide what you need and what scanner or scanners best suit your applications.

  • Are your employees scanning items continuously or only periodically? If you need a continuous scanning solution, a laser or image scanner is probably your best bet. Otherwise, for periodical scanning, a mobile scanning application would probably suffice, depending on what needs to be scanned and how often.
  • Will the information from your scanners be needed in real time? For example, if your employees are working in a grocery store, they need to be able to check the prices of items as they are scanned. If the information isn’t needed in real time, you may be able to choose other options depending on how quickly you need the information provided by the scanner and its requisite software.
  • Does the scanner need to be able to stand up to a harsh warehouse or factory environment, or will it be used in a store environment? If your company needs equipment that’s able to hold up to dusty or otherwise hostile environments, be prepared to pay a premium for such equipment. On the other hand, if you plan to use your scanners for things like store inventory, you can likely get less expensive models.

Even after you’ve asked yourself all of these questions and noted down the answers to prepare a proposal for the equipment, there are still some factors you should consider before deciding on the best barcode scanner for the type of work you need done.

Questions To Find The Right Barcode Scanner Vendor
  • Communication. How does the barcode scanner communicate and integrate with the systems that your company already has in place? If you’re using a connected scanner, will you need to program it before using it? For a wireless or Wi-Fi scanner, do you have appropriate wireless coverage? Are there dead zones or areas with poor coverage? Consider all of this before making a decision on the kind of scanner system you plan to use.
  • Interface. Scanners have become increasingly advanced in recent years, but it is important that the user interface with the one you choose doesn’t cause hiccups or wait times in workflow. A good interface also means that the scanner is easy to use, which helps prevent or reduce the number of mistakes that happen throughout an average day.
  • Formats. What formats does the barcode scanner support? If it only scans one-dimensional barcodes, that might be fine for a grocery store, but not for an industrial warehouse that carries different products with their own style of barcode. Make sure that the options you’re considering are compatible with all of the barcodes you’ll need to scan.
  • Cost. When looking at pricing information, you can’t just look at the cost of the barcode scanner itself. You also have to consider the cost of the any software it requires, as well as maintenance and upgrades. These costs can add up, so it’s important to understand them up front before choosing the right scanners for your company.

Once you’ve considered the questions and other factors above, it’s time to take a look at some of the different options out there.

Best Barcode Scanner Devices

There are a number of different options for barcode scanner devices from trusted manufacturers like:

  • Intermec
  • Datalogic
  • Metrologic
  • Opticon
  • Cipherlab

Intermec offers a several different barcode scanner options, most notably their Sabre series of handheld laser scanners. In addition to the Sabre series, Intermec also offers the Bar Pen wand-style scanner and the Scan Plus cordless scanner. A fixed-position option is available in the Maxi Scan series of scanners, as well.

Datalogic offers four main styles of wired and wireless barcode scanner devices. The Firescan, Heron, Lynx and Gryphon scanners are all wireless, and they also offer the wired Gryphon 2D barcode scanner. Fixed-position options are also available through the Catcher and Diamond barcode scanner devices.

Metrologic offers several simple laser barcode scanners in wired and wireless options. These include the Eclipse and Pulsar, as well as the Voyager, which comes in both Bluetooth and PDF versions.

Much like Metrologic, Opticon also offers a variety of wired and wireless barcode scanners, almost all of which use laser scanning technology. Opticon also offers two wired fixed-position options, as well: the OPM1736B and the OPM2000.

Like most manufacturers, Cipherlab offers several different styles of handheld barcode scanners. Most of them are simple laser options, but Cipherlab also offers the Series 1300 linear imaging barcode scanner for more complex tasks.

While these five aren’t the only manufacturers of handheld or fixed-mount laser and imaging barcode scanners, they’re the ones that you’ll find used most often. However, the manufacturer isn’t the most important thing to consider – what matters is that you use the best barcode scanner for the task at hand.

options when purchasing a barcode scanner

Trust DBK for All of Your Barcode Scanner Service Needs

Founded in 1988, DBK specializes in new and refurbished data collection solutions to best suit your needs. Whether you need data collection, software design, scanner repair and maintenance or professional software/hardware implementation services, DBK has the tools and experience necessary to build the data collection or inventory management suite you need.

DBK has served a wide variety of industries from healthcare to retail to distribution. We offer a wide variety of barcode scanner consultant services to get you the best hardware or software for your company’s data collection or inventory management needs. Whether you’re simply looking for cost-effective hardware or a full-on suite design, we’ve got your back every step of the way.

Among the many services we offer are:

  • A state of the art integration and system design service
  • Installation of ERP or accounting software, as necessary
  • Implementation of data collection services
  • Secure data transfer
  • Product roll-out and retrieval services on a national scale, as necessary
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If you’re interested in learning more about the barcode consultant services we offer, feel free to contact us for more information. And if you want to get the process started on purchasing a suite of software and/or hardware to suit your company’s data collection needs, request a quote today!