End users looking for durable, reliable handheld scanners to seive specific application requirements.
Enterprise end users deploy handheld scanners across all facets of their
operations, internal and customer-facing, for a diverse range of applications
and use cases. While common requirements exist across verticals, tiers, and
regions, unique needs and niche opportunities exist.
Use environments and target applications also heavily influence handheld
scanner selection in regards to:
- Scanning technology preferences - Retailers, merchants, and other
B2C operators prefer 2D imagers to read barcode displayed on customers'
smartphone screens, while certain industrial/manufacturing enterprises remain
loyal to laser-based scanners.
- Ruggedization - Enterprises that deploy handheld scanners in
adverse operating environments or in applications in which drops and shocks
are common, such as industrial and manufacturing or travel and leisure (T&L)
prefer ruggedized devices purpose-built to withstand hard use.
- Connectivity - End users expect handheld scanners to support
multiple connectivity and communication protocols. Preferences for specific
types are dictated by application, operating environment, and mobility
VDC sees several key takeaways for handheld scanner vendors based on the
leading requirements cited in our end user survey:
- Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) trumps price - This suggests that
enterprises are more likely to invest more upfront for quality, reliable
hardware than gamble on cheaper, lower-end devices that may prove more costly
due to service requirements, premature failure, or both in the long run.
- Price is still a leading consideration - Handheld scanner end users
are price-conscious during the selection process in contrast to other barcode
hardware categories, where price is a relatively minor factor. Accordingly, as
vendors set prices and evaluate target verticals, applications and such, VDC
recommends they consider end-user perspectives carefully, particularly in the
context of the diminishing cost differential between laser- and imager-based
units and the respective functionality/benefittradeoffs associated with each
- Imaging applications are increasingly important - For uses such as
reading barcodes from an electronic screen or display, adoption rates of
imaging applications are increasing rapidly and, as such, are playing a more
prominent role in end users' handheld scanner selection processes. VDC
expects this trend to continue as an increasingly broader range of B2C
enterprises deploy mobile barcode-based solutions for a variety of
customer-facing, mobile-based applications.
- Connectivity and communication is top-rated criteria - This
suggests that some enterprises likely avoid deployment of wireless handheld
scanners except when or where wireless connectivity is an absolute
requirement, as tethered connections provide more reliable connection.
However, suppliers could potentially boost wireless adoption by improving the
reliability and range of wireless connections.
Other key results of VDC's Handheld Barcode Scanner end user survey are
discussed in the following report. The complete findings of this study are
presented in the accompanying Excel spreadsheet.
Market share of ruggedized scanners expected to increase due to application trends and selection criteria.
End users indicate a slight preference for non-ruggedized handheld scanners at
Handheld Scanner Investment Segmented by Ruggedization
However, looking ahead to future handheld scanner investments, end users
indicate that they expect to increasingly deploy ruggedized scanners.
Increasing favor for ruggedized units is driven in part by trends in handheld
scanner usage and key product selection criteria, including the following:
- rowing interest in wireless handheld scanners, which are generally more
susceptible to drops and falls, is increasing requirements for ruggedized
units to reduce the risk of failure due to general use/abuse.
- Increasing deployment of handheld scanners in adverse usage environments,
such as manufacturing shop floors, transportation hubs/DCs and warehouses
where ruggedization is a key requirement.
- Whereas Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) is among the leading product
selection criteria cited by end users, some enterprises may evaluate
ruggedized models as a mean to extend scanner lifecycles and avoid potentially
costly downtime due to repairs and/or replacement because of breakage.
However, more rugged models have a higher associated price point and select
end users may choose low-cost general purpose handheld scanners to reduce
upfront investment costs.
Strategic Issues, Drivers & Trends
Leading considerations concern establishing centralized device control, access and usage visibility.
Increased visibility of device usage was the top-cited primary investment
driver among end user respondents, with more than 12% of end users citing this
factor as the leading issue behind their use of remote management with
handheld barcode scanners.
While cable connections remain most common among handheld barcode scanner end
users, wireless connectivity is increasingly common, with 802.11 a/b/g and
Bluetooth being cited by more than 50% of end users combined. As usage of
handheld scanners continues to grow in mobile applications, wireless
connectivity will become increasingly common. (See Exhibit 8 in the attached
Whereas connectivity/communication is the top-rated product selection criteria
among end users, VDC expects it is likely that some enterprises avoid
deployment of wireless handheld scanners except when/where wireless
connectivity is an absolute requirement, as tethered connections provide more
- Focus on supporting multiple communication/connectivity protocols. Based
on VDC end user data, the average enterprise supports approximately two
differenttypes of connectivitywith their handheld barcode scanners.
Tethered/“wired” connections remain the most commonly used
protocol type, as enterprises favor its reliabilityand ease of use.
- Enterprises are open to investing in wireless scanners, but typically only
do so when application or usage requirements dictate doing so. However, by
demonstrating increased wireless reliability or developing new wireless
scanner use-cases/applications, vendors may have the abilityto shift end user
preferences towards wireless scanners.
About the Team
Michael Liard, Vice President, AutolD.
Richa Gupta, Analyst.
John Shuster, Analyst.
Daniel Mandell, Research Associate.
Table of Contents
- Page 4. End users looking for durable, reliable handheld scanners to serve
specific application requirements Page 5 Robust growth expected as enterprises
leverage barcode for a range of specialized applications
Implications for Vendors
- Page 7. End users invest in handheld barcode scanners to support a range
of mature and emerging applications Page 8 End users will continue to invest
in handheld barcode scanners for a range of mature and emerging applications
Strategic End User Issues, Trends & Drivers
- Page 10. Handheld Barcode Scanners a Critical Solution Component
Investment Seen Across all Tier Levels
- Page 11. Handheld scanners a mission-critical component across verticals,
especially in manufacturing and retail
- Page 12. Market share of ruggedized scanners expected to increase due to
application trends and selection criteria
- Page 13. Wireless connectivity becoming more common for a range of
on-the-go applications, but tethered still leads
- Page 14. Laser scanners remain dominant, but imagers are growing rapidly
due to several key factors
- Page 15. Weak usage of remote scanner management suggests vendors may need
to educate end users about benefits
- Page 16. Operational improvement, cost savings and achieving compliance on
a number of dimensions is key
- Page 17. Requirements for track-and-trace, compliance and accurate,
reliable data capture drive investment
- Page 18. Investment driven by mission-critical applications in retail;
health care adoption growing for vertical-specific uses
- Page 19. Commercial Services and Government leverage handheld scanners
across a range of customer-facing and employee-driven applications
- Page 20. Connectivity is the leading consideration for handheld, but TCO
and price play a relatively large role too Page 21 Leading considerations
concern establishing centralized device control, access and usage visibility
- Page 22. Handheld Scanners Selection Criteria
LIST OF EXHIBITS
Handheld Scanners End User
- Exhibit 1. Does your company use barcode technology in its operations?
- Exhibit 2. At what stage is your company in terms of using barcode
- Exhibit 3. How, if at all, are you personally involved with Barcode
Solutions at your organization?
- Exhibit 4. What is the principal business of your organization?
- Exhibit 5. What is your company's current instafled base (in units) for
the following barcode hardware products?
- Exhibit 6. What percent of your companys Handheld Barcode Scanners &
Imagers are ruggedized? What do you expect that percentage to be in 2 years?
- Exhibit 7. What percent of your Handheld Barcode Scanners & Imagers use
the following scanning technologies and what do you expect that percentage to
be in 2 years?
- Exhibit 8. How are your organizations Handheld Barcode Scanners connected
to the host computer or network? (Select all that apply)
- Exhibit 9. Please rate the importance and your satisfaction of each of the
following factors when selecting Handheld Barcode Scanners.
- Exhibit 10. For each of the following product selection criteria, please
select which Handheld Barcode Scanner supplier you perceive as having the best
- Exhibit 11. Do you use remote device management for your barcode scanners?
- Exhibit 12. What percentage of your organizations Handheld Barcode
Scanners are managed remotely?
- Exhibit 13. Why did your company invest in remote device management
solutions for your Handheld Scanners?
- Exhibit 14. In addition to barcoding, which of the following imaging
applications does your company support? Which do you expect to support within
the next 2 years? (Select all that apply)
- Exhibit 15. From where did you get your imaging applications?
- Exhibit 16. Please approximate your organization's annual budget for
Barcode solutions for the following years.
- Exhibit 17. How was your organizations 2011 barcode solutions budget
allocated by component category?
- Exhibit 18. How often does your company replace the following barcode
- Exhibit 19. What was the target Return on Investment (ROl) period that you
expected from your Handheld Scanners? What was the actual ROl period?
- Exhibit 20. From which source(s) did your organization purchase your
barcode hardware solutions? During the next 24 months, from which sources do
you plan to purchase from?
- Exhibit 21. What were your organizabons primary drivers for investing in
Barcode technologies? (Select all that apply)
- Exhibit 22. When evaluating Barcode Hardware vendors, what is the level of
importance associated with the following vendor selection criteria?
- Exhibit 23. Within your organization, where are decisions regarding
barcode supplier selection made? (Select all that apply)
- Exhibit 24. Please choose the title that best describes your position.
- Exhibit 25. What were your orga.nizations 2011 annual revenues?
- Exhibit 26. What is your current geographic location?