We predominantly sell Rugged PDA’s and barcoding, GPS or RFID expertise on top of them but Barcode Scanners are something that we also know a lot about. However we’ve seen a lot of change in this market over the last 12 months or so which lead us to explore what might have changed in this business.
Take the Motorola ls2208 for example. It’s probably still the most common barcode scanner on the market and we’ve had one here for years. To be truthful, it has been a trusty scanner, never failing, and you can’t argue with the service it’s given us so far!
However I could also say that about other barcode scanners we have here. There are essentially better scanners for less money and we constantly use our knowledge and expertise here to successfully provide customers with great alternatives that are also less expensive. The Datalogic Quicksan for instance used to be a great alternative as did the Honeywell 3800G and of course the Opticon OPR 3201. However all of these barcode scanners offer the customer pretty much the same in terms of design, usability and quality in our view. You can harp on about scan rates and angles but at the end of the day it’s the same as listening to Jeremy Clarkson go on about power sliding a car round a corner…. to a lot of customers it simply doesn’t really matter because you’re never going to do it, well not without either getting 9 points on your license or sliding your car into someone’s garden fence!! but the point I am trying to make here is that if it has 4 wheels, is easy to drive, reliable and efficient then that’s usually good enough.
I asked people out there what they now look for in a barcode scanner and the answer is very different to what it used to be. Rugged barcode scanners are now reserved for all but the most testing of environments or for larger businesses who can afford to look at their purchases mid to long-term, but people hate paying for them despite the fact they will last 3-4 times longer in a harsh environment and “Support” seems to be a dirty word these days when use din the same sentence as barcode scanner! but what I can be sure of is the same word kept cropping up time and time again. PRICE, PRICE and PRICE!
Now I know that we’re (still) in testing business times but buying quality and getting the best overall TCO and value for money still apply with any product unless it has truly become so commoditized that it’s now a throw-away item.
If we look at the new wave of Asian scanners now hitting the market, including the Zebex Range then we can now get the same, if not better, technology for substantially less price. But even these scanners prove expensive compared to the £10-£20 scanners you can get if you look hard.
I’ll leave you with one thought. Smaller business are looking elsewhere for their barcode scanners. As the Barcode Scanner market penetrates deeper and deeper are we now seeing them truly become a throw-away item where businesses simply replace instead of support them or is there still a business case for expensive barcode scanners. I think we’ll see a lot more change in this market than we think.
As always my articles are designed to stimulate thought and discussion so get in touch if you want to discuss more.
The Rugged and Mobile blog.