Cool Publisher Barcode Scanning Tools

The idea behind barcode scanning is that customers can take a picture of a product UPC in a store with their mobile device, then cross reference this product in a price comparison database.

Publisher (“Sp”ort “Ad”venture “Out”doors) recently put out its public beta:

Spadout Barcode Clip

Once the barcode is registered, the software will match its UPC against the database and deliver price comparisons at different stores. Pretty cool.

There is another publisher site called Barcle that has been around for a couple years. They have a Twitter page with the latest queries –

It’s not clear how many customers will take advantage of this service – judging from the frequency of Twitter updates on Barcle, usage is relatively light. But Spadout has gotten some good immediate traction. It does seem like there is great potential for this type of service and I imagine the primary beneficiaries will be brick and mortar stores, because the price check (even if it is better online) will act as “permission to purchase” for the price-conscious shopper, similar to the function that coupon sites serve so well.

The publisher will, hopefully, see some revenue from this software and should be aided by the strengthened relationship with the customer., for example, has a devoted fan base.

I think there is also a use for this outside of the store. One additional use is scanning bar codes for items you already bought that you are likely to purchase again, such as food. Price-sensitive grocery shoppers may someday be able to compare prices with food products from different stores in the area.

I heard from Ted Baltuch at, who told me they get thousands of scans per hour but decided to post to Twitter only every six hours. Most of the scans are for electronics items.

About Brook Schaaf

You can find Brook on Twitter @brookschaaf.

4 Responses to Cool Publisher Barcode Scanning Tools

  1. Pat Grady says:

    i think most "brick and mortar" folks won't feel like beneficiaries.

    there's a high cost to permit people to see, feel and touch the products – this serves to remove the reward for providing that.

    from my perspective, one that assumes that "brick and mortar" folks are honest and are trying their hardest to offer competitive pricing, i can imagine what they'd think if someone walked in selected a product, scanned the bar code, and said to their friend "i'm ordering this online as we stand here, this 40 dollar lamp is 30 cents cheaper online, has free delivery and don't have to lug it around or lock it in my car when we go out to dinner after we shop".

    larger stores will need to have a companion online store with a price match so they can legitimately tell the consumer they can buy now in their store in person or online with all of the online ordering advantages, plus be able to return it locally if they need to.

    so the brick and mortar folks, i believe, will be split in two groups – those that remain "brick and mortar" only, and those that morph into hybrid "brick & virtual" stores.

    so like i said, the "brick and mortar" types, aren't going to like this much at all, IMO.

  2. Pat Grady says:

    consumers, on the other hand, are all going to love this. information's hyper-availability is giving consumer's much greater leverage to make much more informed buying decisions.

    alternatively, from the back side of this, i predict a story will be published in the next year where some whacko brick and mortar store has taken steps further than just obfuscating bar codes, something whacked like trying to jam wifi signals into their store in a stone age mentality approach to survival.

  3. Brook Schaaf says:

    I agree that brick and mortar stores are unlikely to like this but I do think they'll benefit from it based on my reasoning above. People generally like to have stuff as quickly as possible.

    I think there will probably be a threshold for most people in terms of how many products they are willing to scan in one session.

    I definitely wouldn't be surprised to see a retailer react by trying to limit the information consumers can access.

  4. I have been using Barcle since seeing the report on WPTZ-TV in December 2007. I've used this as a price comparison when in big box stores. Check on something in Walmart to see if Target or Best Buy has a better price. I've shown the sales clerk at Walmart when the price is better elsewhere and I've gotten their price match guarantee. I've tried other ones but the problem is their software is usually tied to one brand or manufacturer of phone. Plus you need to have a newer phone with a better camera on it. My 2 year old MotoQ works fine using Barcle.