BENEFITS OF BARCODE SCANNERS
When the use of barcode labels was first introduced, the corresponding numbers (UPC codes) had to be entered manually—at least in the retail sector. Although this allowed more description of the product sold, it was tedious and time-consuming. Before the introduction of barcode scanners, cashiers had to input the ten-digit bar code into their register instead of just a price and department number as they had previously been required to do. Certainly using barcodes decreased the potential for charging inaccurate prices, but it increased the amount of work the cashier had to do and caused the customer to have to stand in line longer.
The introduction of barcode scanners made a big difference in the amount of time a cashier needed to ring up a customer's order. Early scanners were hand-held devices that required a bit of expertise to operate—if you didn't hold it in just the right spot at the right angle, it was unable to scan the label. Although the hand-held barcode scanners are still used for larger merchandise, most merchandise is actually scanned by placing it over or in front of a piece of special glass that sets in front of the scanner. Some smaller stores still use the hand-held scanners as do most warehouses and other similar facilities that deal in large packaged items.
Barcode scanners make it much easier for both cashier and customer to complete a transaction quickly. Certainly there are instances where a product may not be in the store's computer and will need to be entered manually, but those cases are rare and only involve a handful of the items in a customer's order rather than the entire order. Perhaps as time passes we will find that retailers will become more precise in the information they enter into their computers so that all of the products pass through the barcode scanner accurately.