Big news for Oregon-based inventor of the ‘invisible’ barcode as Digimarc made headlines last week when Walmart’s CEO Doug McMillon posted a photo on Instagram, which shows testing of Digimarc’s invisible barcode on a packet of chips.
Since 2014, Digimarc has made great strides in its bid to make its patented Digimarc Barcode the next big thing in the retail space. Taking the traditional UPC barcode, Digimarc makes it invisible to the naked eye using digital watermarking technology and places the barcode all over the printed packaging of the product. This allows for image-based cameras that are used to scan items to quickly pick up the barcode in record time, removing the need to rotate/move around the packaging. Currently, Digimarc’s partner Datalogic offers the capability to read Digimarc Barcode on every imager across both stationary and handheld form factors, with other partnership announcements expected in coming weeks.
Since its launch, the technology was first adopted by supermarket retail chain Wegmans, which incorporated the Digimarc barcode on its private label products. Digimarc was also on the news in May, 2015 when mobile app Shazam, announced the integration of Digimarc’s patented print and audio identification technology to its app. This was followed by the announcement by SAM Group, a leading POS services provider that works with major POS vendors that it will integrate Digimarc Barcode recognition to its product offerings.
Digimarc has also continued developing its Digimarc Digital software enabling barcode scanning using smartphones and other mobile devices from home and outside the retail store. It is a highly relevant and timely technology introduction in the industry as retailers look to enhance their levels of engagement with customers at home to increase customer loyalty. As these consumers scan products at home, information including their purchase history and items they scan can provide retailers with a wealth of information on customer buying habits and trends.
Currently, the Digimarc barcode is at the proof-of-concept stage with Walmart, unlike Wegmans that has printed it on its private labels offerings. Retailers are fully aware of the ‘mixed basket’ challenge as not all products in the store will bear the Digimarc code (at least not in the near term). Products without the invisible code will have to be scanned using the traditional method, which will result in varying levels of checkout efficiency. Impacted by the declining use of traditional cash currency, expiration of licensing deals and consumers moving to electronic forms of payment, this could potentially open up a much needed revenue generating opportunity for Digimarc.
Since Walmart CEO Doug McMillon’s Instagram post last week, the Digimarc stock has climbed to $44.76 as of June 30, 2015. With one of the world’s largest retailers testing its solution, Digimarc can expect great things. However, adoption rates will depend on acceptance of and investments in new camera-based imagers by major retailers that are particularly wary about ROI implications of their technology investments.
VDC took a deeper dive on this rather interesting topic – Digimarc and its “invisible” barcode – last month. You can download the report here.