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Sunday, March 29, 2015

Windows Portable Handheld Commercial Scanners

On 3/23/2015, 1:04 AM, Central Daylight Time, I published the following article on my Windows Laptop blog ( It has occurred to me that it is pretty much better off if it was here. So today, 3/29/2015, at nearly 5:00pm Central Daylight Time, I am copying the whole post (which I am allowed to do only because I hold the Copyright) and posting it here...

Retailers are often using a handheld PC they use to scan UPC bar codes.  The ones I use all seem to be Windows CE based.  We use the scanners to check prices, availability, product information, back stock stockroom location, and connected to a portable printer we may print out new price tickets or mark them down with clearance tickets.

Now, I know that this is old technology.  We have been using these slow-ass time wasting devices for at least the 4 years I have worked the store.  So why the hell even use them?  Once a ticket is scanned it will usually take a second or more to spit out a printed ticket.  Obviously, these are not multiple processor machines.

But why doesn't business recognize what a piece of crap this system is and replace it immediately?

Think about it.  In one night we might have anywhere from 6,000 to 17,000 pieces to mark down, but we literally have to scan many times more.  Even if no ticket is required, the devices are still pathetically slow as you wait on what to do next.

6,000 peices to mark down means that I am wasting at least 12,000 seconds scanning everything if I am scanning all the clearance products for further additional markdowns.  12,000 seconds is 200 minutes wasted, every single night that we do mark downs.  Now, times 1,000 stores and the corporate entity has just wasted over 200,000 minutes, at bare minimum,  3,333 hours where its employees could be getting more done, or doing other things.

3,333 x 8.50 (min wage) = $28,330.50 of wasted labor every night there are price changes.  And we usually have price changes every couple of weeks or so.  Sometimes, there are so many products to scan, it takes 2 nights.

And our corporate leadership fails to see how pathetic this system is, anyway?

But, that's not the half of it.  There is an official ignorance about product life.  Batteries go dead and no one replaces them.  I put a sign on a battery saying "Dead Battery" and someone takes the sticky note off and puts it in the charger, but it won't charge because the battery is completely dead and useless.  I change the sign to "Useless Battery" and they rip the sign off and put it in the charger, still.

Because of this ignorance, batteries don't get recycled and we wind-up with more dead batteries than we have good ones.  This means we spend up to an hour trying to find a battery that works with our handheld PC scanner.  Of course, it is more complicated than that.  Some batteries will work in certain PCs.  So nothing gets thrown out or recycled, and no one knows how to combat this.

Then, when you connect a printer, the PC has to be able to work with the printer.  Sometimes they don't work together and you have to trade out printers once you have a PC and printer comination that works.

We tell management about all these issues and more (scanning a QR code by accident freezes-up many of the PCs, and the QR codes are placed right next to the UPC codes), and yet no one does anything.  This is a pathetic set of circumstances, and I am quite honestly convinced that my corporate retailer loves frustrating its employees with poor pay, poor equipment, unreal expectations, no real benefits and complete ignorance.

Ignorance is not bliss.  It is stupid when it is preventable.  Especially in a corporate environment.

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