A grocery store associate uses a Zebra CS60 to scan a box of produce in the back of the store.
By Brian Walters | October 12, 2020

Good News, Retailers: You No Longer Have to Buy New Scanners Every Time Your Workflows Change. The New Zebra CS60 Series Convertible Scanner Can Take on Any Form and Task You Need It To!

This compact corded + cordless barcode scanner may come in a small package, but it can deliver big efficiency gains to retailers who need a single, adaptable and scalable multi-tasking device.

Barcodes may be universal, but most barcode scanners are not. This poses challenges for organizations who have workers scanning items every second of the day. Retailers shouldn’t have to invest in a new handheld scanning device every time their workflow changes or they suddenly need to introduce new barcode-based applications, such as what we saw happen in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic when demand for curbside and home delivery orders skyrocketed.

And store associates certainly shouldn’t have to pick up a different scanner every time they move from one department or task to the next. Yet, that’s often what happens today. You may have a corded barcode scanner stationed at the checkout lane and a cordless scanner (or two) available for various inventory management tasks – if you’re conservative. Or you may use one type of cordless scanner for receiving, a second cordless model at the customer service desk for returns and a third for curbside order fulfillment, each slightly different in capabilities and therefore necessary to support your different workflows.

Most likely, though, your scanning device ecosystem is even more multidimensional. Depending on how many different scanning applications you’ve added over the years, how many generations of devices are in use today and how fragmented procurement may be across geographically dispersed locations, you could find yourself managing multiple brands and form factors. But it doesn’t have to be that way, at least not anymore. You no longer have to buy a new scanner every time you add or evolve workflows, and your workers no longer have to learn how to use a separate device for each task.

Good Things Come in Small Packages

For the past several months, my team and I have been working closely with customers to develop what is truly a transformational (we’re talking first-of-its-kind) barcode scanner that can adapt to support any current and future workflow that requires quick, “first time, every time” item scans.

The Zebra CS60 Series Companion Scanner, which hit the market today, is a convertible device that can switch between corded, cordless, handheld and hands-free form factors in an instant. 

Zebra CS60 scanner in corded and cordless configurations

As a result, each worker can have his or her own dedicated device to use throughout the shift – a device that is capable of supporting all tasks. That’s why I think you will find it to be a real treat.

Though built primarily for retail environments where people and inventory are constantly on the move, the Zebra CS60 will be valuable to anyone who just wants to stock a single multi-tasking scanner that can scale easily to support new applications without emptying pockets in the process.

What Makes the New Zebra CS60 Convertible Companion Scanner So Different from Other Scanners?

This is a question that you will probably ask as you are weighing your options. I know it’s the first one I would ask. Whether you’re opening a new store or wanting to standardize all your stores (and applications) on a single scanning platform, the first thing you’ll need to understand is how the scanners you’re considering will be able to address your needs and concerns. So, I thought I’d highlight some of the ways that the Zebra CS60 addresses these common pain points and workflow criteria since these are the things that actually motivated us to create the CS60 and ultimately informed every product design and engineering decision: 

  • “I need a way to capture all item-level inventory data across all applications with a single handheld device – and without having to install new equipment every time I want to add a new application.”
  • "I can’t afford to purchase multiple scanning devices for my various applications, and I don’t want to have to keep changing out scanners every time my needs change – which is quite often.”
  • “I don’t want to have to train my workers to use different scanning devices.”
  • “I want my team to be able to seamlessly transition from one department or task to the next without having to track down ‘the right scanner’ for that environment or application.”

These four statements go hand in hand, in my opinion. The beauty of the CS60 convertible companion scanner is that it is truly an all-in-one device: corded, cordless, handheld and handsfree. To illustrate the scalability, it can be used as a cordless scanner for inventory in the store aisles one minute and a corded handheld scanner at checkout the next. Or you could use it as a corded hands-free scanner at a self-service kiosk if preferred. All you have to do is swap the battery and corded USB converter at any time to change between corded and cordless scanning. It’s that simple. You also have the option to add the presentation stand to a corded scanner to automatically switch between hands-free and handheld modes.  Plus, the scanner comes with a programmable second button that allows users to interface with another host application for two different workflows. This makes it easier to send captured data to multiple applications in the format and order each application expects. It’s super easy for workers to learn and even easier to use.

More importantly, though, the CS60 will work with all of your current workflows and applications as well as any new ones you will need to improve or sustain operations in the future. Because the CS60 can be deployed and redeployed in so many different ways, you can continuously add on new barcode scanning applications without having to invest in different devices or additional infrastructure.

Because the CS60 can easily adapt to current and future needs, it also eliminates the capital expenses and operational costs typically associated with purchasing and managing multiple device types. In other words, this convertible scanner should carry you through the workflows of today and prepare you for the inevitable changes that will arise tomorrow.

  • “My current device doesn’t scan damaged or hard to read barcodes, and that’s hurting my team’s productivity.”

Like other Zebra scanners, the CS60 can read virtually any barcode, including those that are poorly printed, damaged, dirty, crinkled, faded, distorted or low-contrast. It can even read dimly lit barcodes displayed on mobile phones. We know that if workers can’t read the barcodes the first time they scan them, and every time they scan them, then productivity drops and efficiency degradation ripples throughout the entire organization, impacting both you and customers.

  • “My scanners are often misplaced or stolen, and sometimes they accidentally go home with my workers.”

What’s unique about the CS60 is that the scanner will alert you when a device is taken out of range. (You’ll also be able to set up virtual tether alerts on the cradle in the near future via a free firmware download that is currently in development.) This prevents scanners from disappearing either accidentally or intentionally and can be used as a reminder to return scanners to their chargers.

The CS60 also has a paging button that helps users locate a scanner that may have been misplaced. Your workers won’t have to waste time hunting down missing devices and you won’t have to worry about suffering hardware-related financial losses.  

  • “I need a scanner that comes with more software tools so that I can easily develop applications for my business, deploy and manage my devices and streamline tasks for my workers.”

The CS60 features Zebra’s DataCapture DNA, which is a software suite that helps you decrease application development cycles, simplifies scanner deployments, delivers remote analytics and enables IT to streamline tasks. You can learn more about it here.

  • "My workers would be more productive if they had immediate device feedback upon trigger press and decode completion, especially in noisy environments.”

This is feedback that we hear often from our customers, so we designed the CS60 to provide haptic/physical feedback upon each trigger press. This more intuitive scanning experience definitely increased productivity during user testing.

  • “I need scanning devices that can withstand drops, tumbles and water encountered during every day shifts as well as the thorough cleaning they’ll need during and after each shift.”

We’ve been building enterprise-grade scanners for decades and always prioritize durability. In this case, we designed and tested the CS60 companion barcode scanner to ensure it meets 5-foot drop and IP65 specifications. It can also survive 250 tumbles. That means the common bumps, drops, dust particles and water droplets encountered in a retail (and healthcare) environment won’t be an issue.

We also replaced the traditional mechanical button design with smooth, sealed inductive sensing touch buttons to preserve the integrity of the IP seal rating and prevent damage to the scanner, especially when it’s being wiped down after shifts or before handoffs to other users as part of standard COVID-19 safety protocols.

  • “The scanners I use at the point of sale and customer service desks take up so much space, and the cordless scanners aren’t super comfortable to carry around all day.”

This was something that was top of mind for us when thinking about what the right form factor would be for a cordless companion scanner. At the end of the day, we knew that the only way such a device would truly prove beneficial to you and your team is if it could easily be tucked in a pocket or comfortably worn all shift long. So, our list of minimally viable product (MVP) criteria included “non-obtrusive” and “easy to carry all shift long.” As you’ll see once you have it in hand, on your belt or around your neck, the CS60 is extremely lightweight. It doesn’t take up a lot of counter space, either.  

  • We would like to add cordless scanning to our operations but are concerned about the added complexities of cordless devices.”

These are very valid concerns, and we took every measure to eliminate such complexities when designing the CS60, especially since this is the first cordless scanner we’ve offered with inductive charging capabilities. Good news for you, the CS60 is the easiest device on the planet to pair (in our opinion). The Tap to Pair feature empowers workers to connect with other devices via Near Field Communications (NFC) without having to involve IT. And the Scan-to-Connect app, which is part of Zebra’s Data Capture DNA, provides single-step pairing with a barcode displayed on a mobile device – just in case you would prefer that option.

We also put a lot of thought into the power capabilities of this device knowing the challenges that cordless scanners have posed in the past. Hopefully it will put your mind at ease knowing that the CS60 batteries last up to 18 hours (yes, two full shifts) and can be easily replaced without tools. When it does need to recharge, you have multiple options, including a single-slot device + battery charge communication cradle, four-slot device and four-slot battery chargers utilizing Zebra’s ShareCradle charging system as well as off-the-shelf Qi wireless charging pads. We also added a dedicated, on-demand battery gauge so that workers can keep track of charge status, and (bonus!) you won’t have to clean and maintain charging contacts thanks to the inductive charging capabilities.

Something else to note is that the CS60 operates on channels that won’t interfere with your wireless networks. (Another concern alleviated.) We really are trying to simplify cordless scanning so that you can take full advantage of its many benefits!

Of course, you may derive even more value from the Zebra CS60 convertible companion scanner than outlined above depending on your needs and goals. There are so many ways you can customize this scanning solution to fit your ever-changing operating environment, and its tremendous versatility delivers immense value, most notably the fact that:

  • You only have to buy, deploy and manage one scanning solution because all workers – stationary and mobile – can finally use the same scanner across all applications.
  • You won’t have to invest in new scanners every time your workflows or application needs change. This one scanner scales to meet all of retailers’ needs, especially related to point of sale and inventory management.

As always, our team is happy to answer any questions you may have about this first-of-its-kind convertible scanner as you’re evaluating your scanning solution options. We want to ensure you have the right technology tool to achieve your many different goals.

In the meantime, if you want to learn more about the Zebra CS60 Series Scanner’s transformational design, capabilities and potential benefits, you can visit our website. This infographic also provides a great visual of the many ways the CS60 can be put to work in your retail stores.

If you’re looking for a convertible companion scanning solution such as this for healthcare applications, you’re in luck! The new Zebra CS60-HC Series model was designed to meet very specific requirements set forth by acute and non-acute facilities. You can learn more here.

Brian Walters
Brian Walters

Brian Walters is a Senior Product Manager for Zebra’s Data Capture Solutions, Enterprise Visibility and Mobility business unit. Brian brings extensive knowledge in all facets of product and brand management, operations, sales and marketing and business development, participating in many C-level executive engagements, public speaking, training and business consulting activities.

Brian joined Zebra from Canon where he was responsible for the day to day management of several products and services, including net-new product offerings and vertical specific applications. During his tenure there, Brian was awarded with the Canon Americas Presidents Award (CAPA) in Business Development. Prior to Canon, Brian worked at ServiceSPAN, a telecommunications software provider, where he was responsible for a wide variety of marketing activities including brand management, product lifecycle management and communications. Before ServiceSPAN, Brian worked at CA Technologies where he was responsible for working with senior management to promote CA’s product offerings in a thought leadership capacity.

Brian holds a Bachelor of Science in Marketing from C.W. Post.

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