These days retailers use Omni-Directional Scanners which can scan in all kinds of orientation by using spinning mirrors.
Suggestions that saved a couple of dollars on the packaging of PC could, for example, be worth quite a bit. The best suggestion I heard of was made by a co-worker (before I worked at IBM). He was the first to suggest that bar codes be used on IBM's ubiquitous inventory tags. Since everything in the company, like desks, monitors, keyboards, etc. had inventory tags it would have been a huge labor saving suggestion during the annual inventory of everything.
Unfortunately, IBM didn't use the suggestion for a couple of years and according to the program's guidelines my friend wasn't eligible for a financial reward when the idea was actually adopted.
Seeing this video, I can't help but feel a bit sad for how far IBM slipped from its former days of glory :( And not only IBM, but also places like Xerox PARC and Bell Labs. We owe _so much_ of modern life to these places.
And yet, whatever "secret sauce" each had seems to have been lost (at least to them, I don't doubt there are other similar places today, although I don't know them).
Though I couldn't tell you where the current ones are.
Google and Microsoft are today's high profit equivalent, perhaps with or without the patent monopoly.