Usage of Barcode Technology Increasing Significantly

A new report from barcode technology provider ScanBuy offers new insight into barcodes usage based on its own platform data between June 1 and September 15.

Among the key findings: There were more barcode scans performed in a single month starting in July than in all of 2009, highlighting the technology's growth as an ad vehicle. Scanning via ScanBuy's barcode system has increased 700% from the start of 2010.

By downloading barcode scanning apps, users with a camera phone can get product information, coupons or other content via tags placed on product packaging, print ads or outdoor signs.

While much of the barcode buzz has centered on the newer 2D format, often referred to as QR codes, ScanBuy found both 1D and 2D codes are being scanned about equally, "showing people are less concerned with code format, and more interested in getting information quickly," according to the company.

Linking to a Web site was by far the most common type of action encouraged by a 2D code, with 85% driving traffic to a URL. Among traditional 1D, or UPC, codes, health and beauty products were the most popular category, making up 21% of scans, followed by groceries (14.4%), books (12.6%), and kitchen items (9.2%). ScanBuy said people are also actually making purchases through mobile devices, with books and electronics showing among the highest conversion rates.

Looking at user demographics, the study found that half of barcode users are ages 35 to 45 and skew male, reflecting the smartphone and early-​adopter populations. Android was easily the most popular smartphone platform among barcode users, with 45% owning devices powered by Google mobile operating system. Second was BlackBerry (27%), followed by the iPhone (15%), Symbian (9%), Java (3%) and Windows Mobile (1%).

Industry analyst note that barcodes have given retailers, packaged goods companies and brands the tools to deliver content and promotions on mobile devices.  That ease of navigation, along with the explosive growth of SmartPhones is currently driving exponential adoption.

[Source:  Mobile Barcode Trend Report.  ScanLife.  15 Sept. 2001.  Web.  15 Oct. 2010.]