What should you consider when buying a handheld inventory scanner for your business? There are a few things to know such as the type of scanner and how each type could work within your business. Read this article to find our more.

If you’re a startup that’s planning on selling products, you’ll need to keep things moving.

You need to scan products in and take products out to ship. A good handheld inventory scanner can do wonders for your company. It’s especially useful for a startup trying to speed up the processing time in the store.

The biggest thing to remember is the use case. If you’re a small store, you might use them for POS (point of sale), but not inventory. On the flip side, if you’re a small store that’s growing its inventory, you might want to use scanners for that. In both of these cases, a strong database and system is something you’ll need. Your scanner functions off a strong system. Without it, it would do nothing.

Here are some other questions you should ask. What should you look for in a barcode scanner? What types of barcode scanners are a good fit for your startup? What functions do you need from it?

Those are some of the questions we’ll go over in this guide. Let’s take a look at what your use case is, what form factors and types are available, and what qualities to look for.

What’s Your Use Case?

So let’s establish what you’re going to use the scanner for first.

Is your startup handling sales for a B2C audience with small inventory? If so, you should get a barcode scanner for POS. A barcode scanner can help speed up the purchasing process for your customers. It can also make sure that your sales process is accurate. There is less of a chance for human error if a salesperson uses a barcode scanner for checkout. There’s a reason why it’s adopted in almost all major stores.

For a startup with more inventory that deals in B2B, a barcode scanner for inventory might be best. The barcode scanner would be able to handle both inbound and outbound products. It keeps things tidy and up-to-date. Inventory control is a huge pain point for startups dealing with products.

There are also other industries that use scanners besides retail. Healthcare, manufacturing, education, logistics, even field services. If your startup’s within these realms, you’ll want to focus on how the barcode scanner will work for you.

Types Of Barcode Scanners

When choosing a scanner for your startup, you need to figure out what type of scan engine it has. This depends on the type of barcodes you’ll be reading. There are 3 different types.


This is the most common type of scanner. It utilizes a red diode laser to read the black and white spaces on a barcode. They can only read standard linear (1D) barcodes. The good thing about laser barcode scanners is that they are very cost effective. You can scan items from a few inches to a foot away, but it all depends on the size of the barcode.


Linear scanners, like laser scanners, only read 1D barcodes. But where they differ is that they take images instead of reading reflected light. They analyze the image they took to extract information about the barcode. They are great for reading bad prints or broken barcodes.

2D Area Imagers

These barcode scanners will capture an image and analyze it. They can read any type of barcode, whether they’re 1D, stacked, or 2D barcodes. These units are great because the orientation of the barcode doesn’t matter. A 2D Area Imager scanner takes a detailed image and reads faster.

Scanner Form Factor

When you’ve decided what types of scanner you’ll get, figure out what form factor works the best.


Presentation scanners are stationery scanners. You don’t need to pick them up or hold them up to scan. They sit on a counter-top and you bring your barcode up to the scanner. These are common in retail check-outs for easy scanning. They’ll have a wide reading area to make it easier to register.


The most common form of scanners is the handheld form factor. They usually come with a trigger and a wide head. When you find your barcode, all you have to do is aim and press down. They can come in wired or wireless. These are perfect for increasing your mobility when using barcodes.


These scanners are like presentation scanners. They are stationary and placed on a countertop. Grocery stores and self-checkout lines are the most common use-case for these scanners. They can speed up the check-out process when used.

Mobile Computer

Mobile computers offer both PC functions and scanner functions. These units are mobile and efficient. Instead of having to offload your information onto a PC, you can do it right after you scan an item. You can store the data on WiFi or through internal memory. These are perfect for those moments where you need a mobile touch.

Fixed Mount

Fixed scanners are more specialized than the other types of scanners. They are common in large automated systems. For startups, we’d recommend against looking for this type of scanner!

Best Qualities To Look For

Look at how rugged your scanner is. Some environments might call for a more rugged scanner, but you want to make sure that the one you get is hardy.

Scanners are always used, picked up, thrown around. Your scanner should be able to handle abuse. Some people also use scanners in outdoor environments. You want to make sure that your investment in a scanner is going to hold up.

Another quality to look for is connectivity. Is it cordless or corded? Do you need it to connect to a computer? Or do you prefer it to be wireless? Cordless scanners are more common nowadays, and they are much more affordable now. Be aware that they’ll need a base station to function.

Find The Best Handheld Inventory Scanner For You

It’s important to find the right handheld inventory scanner for your business. These are some good guidelines for you to find the right device, but make sure you fit it to your use case. You can find more info on our site if you need help deciding which is best for you.