2D barcodes have revolutionized the market for barcode scanners over the past decade. Enabling more information (on price, quantity, image, and so on) to be stored, 2D barcodes help customers manage inventory better, especially in industries such as retail, logistics, and healthcare. 2D barcode scanners are capable of scanning both 1D and 2D barcodes and improve business process management. Customers already aware of technologies such as radio frequency identification (RFID) realize the potential benefits of 2D barcode technology. Enhancing business processes coupled with enabling automation is expected to have a considerable impact on the growth of 2D barcode scanners.
A key challenge to the wide adoption of 2D barcode scanners stems from their pricing, requiring a higher initial investment from customers. With customers across verticals focused primarily on the timeline of their return on investments (RoI), this has been a major deterrent for the growth of 2D barcode scanners. Advances in technology such as improved mobility, connectivity, and capability to read from other computing devices are expected to augment the growth prospects of these scanners in the coming years.
2D barcode technology is gradually gaining prominence across applications such as retail, automotive, transportation, and healthcare.
- Retail has and will continue to be the largest contributor of revenue for 2D barcode scanners. Retailers are increasingly focused on monitoring general and in-store customer buying patterns and behavior. This trend is expected to augment the demand for 2D-barcode scanners in the retail industry.
- Automotive and aerospace industries have been receptive to adoption of 2D barcodes for use in applications such as part tracing, inventory management, and asset tracking. Tagging assets with 2D barcodes enables manufacturers to obtain information on the origin, service history, and usage history, helping customers make informed decisions.
- Logistics companies have recently started tracking the pallets, boxes, or cases that are used to ship/deliver packages to various parts of the world. Tagging of these boxes enables vendors to manage their inventory and also assess the health of these returnable transport items (RTIs).
- In healthcare, bedside applications, patient documents, specimen tracing, and drug tracing are among the key applications driving the adoption of 2D scanners. Regulations and directives concerning the safety of patients and counterfeit drugs are expected to augment growth of the 2D scanners market.
1D continues to be a dominant technology with respect to the installed base especially in verticals such as retail. With the declining pricing of 2D barcode technology, the market is expected to witness its progressive adoption.
2D barcode scanners are classified as mobile and stationery scanners. A growing mobile workforce across verticals augments the need for handheld scanners with value-added capabilities. Hence, the market for handheld scanners is expected to witness gradual growth over the next three years. Furthermore, vendors in this market are focused on providing value additions to their handheld devices by enabling Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and non-cabled scanners.
North America and Europe hold a major share of the total market, with retail, automotive, and aerospace OEMs embracing the technology. The presence of three major automotive OEMs and aerospace companies in North America significantly contributes to the growing adoption of 2D barcodes and 2D barcode scanners. Food regulations and directives augment the usage of 2D barcode technology to offer insights into food origin, nutrients, and vendor name, which is gradually driving the adoption of 2D barcodes in supermarkets and hypermarkets in Europe. With consumer choices on food consumption varying from time to time, access to details on loose goods and cold storage food items is growing in prominence. This trend is expected to extend to application areas such as perishable goods, jewellery, cosmetics, and footwear. Another area offering growth opportunities for 2D barcodes has been healthcare. Growing concerns over counterfeit drugs are expected to increase interest in technological authentication.
The industry has been witnessing a multitude of efforts by governments and various regulatory organizations focused on safety issues. Mandates and E-pedigree regulations across different countries are expected to have a significant impact on the distribution of pharmaceuticals due to the increasing number of product recalls in recent years. India and China are expected to offer considerable opportunities for growth in the coming years.
Benefits of 2D barcode technology include inventory management, improved operational efficiency, reduced labor, enhanced supply chain visibility, information accuracy, greater sales, and improved customer services. Authenticating personnel, products, and brands is an additional benefit it offers over traditional track and trace applications. Customers can also track their assets end-to-end, which allows for greater visibility to identify bottlenecks and correct them.