*Barcode System Links Catalogs to E-Commerce

ORLANDO — CodeCorp, Charleston, SC, has married the dependability of shopping by catalog with the speed of e-commerce through tiny bar codes that launch the cataloger’s Web site when read by a special scanner.

Zapcode was officially introduced at the Direct Marketing to Business show here yesterday. After shopping from a paper catalog, a customer uses a $100 Zapscanner hooked up to a computer to read the Zapcode on the catalog cover and launch that cataloger’s e-commerce order page. The Zapcode for each desired product is scanned onto the order form with the SKU number and quantity. A Zapcode can also be affixed to the back of a credit card for the scanning of payment information.

The world’s smallest bar code, Zapcode has been available since the start of the year. Zapcodes are assigned and linked to the merchant’s database of SKU numbers and product descriptions. Zapstore services include software from Electronic Data Systems (EDS) to link an e-commerce site to a catalog and scanner. Pricing has not been determined.

Zapcode eliminates order entry errors and significantly lowers the order time for a catalog transaction. A purchase of five items took an average of 47 seconds using Zapcode, 6:22 minutes with a 1-800 number and 7:46 minutes with an Internet shopping cart, according to tests run by the company which were confirmed by figures from the DMA.

“Shopping happens on paper while ordering happens on the Internet, this brings the two together,” said CodeCorp project manager Tom Pickens.

Zapcode is in the process of recruiting BTB catalogers to deploy the new technology. Pickens said the BTB market was approached first because the sale of scanners could be targeted at specific high-volume purchasers. BTB trade publishers will be targeted next.

CodeCorp also sees Zapcode applications for direct mail pieces, editorial and advertising in magazines and classified ads. In these cases the barcode would link users to the appropriate spot on a Web site that otherwise would require a handful of clicks to reach – a problem known as drill down.

The acceptance of Zapcode is dependent on the sale of scanners. As the technology is accepted, Pickens said, the price of scanners will rise and features will be added.

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