Decoding Barcodes and Barcode Scanning Solutions


What are Barcodes?

Barcodes are widely used everywhere – from small retail stores to large industrial warehouses to organize, track and properly disburse the inventory. Barcodes serve as a simple, yet powerful tool for tracking a variety of information. Barcodes helps to streamline operations, ensure data accuracy and above all optimizes efficiency. This blog provides a brief overview of barcodes, types of barcodes, significance of barcodes in inventory management, and how a mobile barcode scanning solution helps in efficient inventory tracking and management.

Comprehending Barcode Numbers

For a layman, barcodes appear as simple lines with spaces, rendering meaningless. However, they are not just random lines or spaces, but carry meaningful information. Each segment of a barcode is specifically designed to reveal the details of a product. So, let’s briefly understand the components of a barcode to better appreciate why barcodes are so important in efficient inventory management.

Barcodes follow a global standard, enabling businesses and consumers to trace where the goods have originated, ensuring high-level transparency and trust in international trade. A barcode is composed of the following components:

  • Country of Origin: The first two to three digits of a barcode (GS1 prefix) connote the country where the product’s manufacturer is registered. This shows the company’s headquarters but may not be where the product has been manufactured.
  • Manufacturer Identification: After the country prefix, the next digits in a barcode identify the manufacturer. This unique code is vital for tracking which company produced the item, aiding in quality control and logistics.
  • Product Identifier: The next section of the barcode identifies the specific product. Its length varies based on the country and manufacturer codes, distinguishing individual items under the same brand.
  • Check Digit: The final digit of a barcode, known as the check digit, ensures the barcode is correctly composed. If the check digit doesn’t match the scanner’s calculation, it signals a potential scanning error.

When your items have barcodes, they can be read instantly by a computer when paired with a scanner. This ensures greater accuracy in inventory counting, in contrast to manual counting.

Different Types of Barcodes

Barcode Types: UPC vs. Other Barcodes

Now, let’s understand the different type of barcodes used in business.

UPC Barcodes

  • Consist of 12 numerical digits.
  • Common in U.S. retail for product identification, inventory, and sales tracking.

Regular Barcodes

Code 39

  • Encodes both letters and numbers.
  • Used in manufacturing and healthcare.

Code 128

  • Compact and versatile, encoding various data types.
  • Ideal for logistics, shipping, and inventory management.

Benefits of Barcodes in Inventory Management

Now, let’s understand some of the key benefits of using barcodes in inventory management:

  1. Accuracy and Error Reduction: Barcodes significantly reduce human errors in data entry. Manually entering product information can lead to mistakes, but scanning a barcode ensures accurate data capture every time. This precision minimizes discrepancies in inventory records and reduces costly errors.
  2. Time Savings: Scanning barcodes is much faster than manually inputting data. This efficiency speeds up the processes of inventory checks, product retrieval, and stock replenishment. Faster operations improve overall workflow and allow staff to focus on more strategic tasks.
  3. Cost-Effectiveness: Implementing a barcode system can lead to significant cost savings. Reduced errors mean less money spent on correcting mistakes, and improved efficiency translates to lower labor costs. Additionally, barcodes can help in maintaining optimal stock levels, reducing excess inventory and associated holding costs.
  4. Improved Inventory Visibility: Barcodes provide real-time tracking of inventory levels. This visibility is crucial for effective supply chain management, as it allows for better demand forecasting and planning. Managers can quickly identify when stock levels are low and reorder products before they run out, ensuring smooth operations.
  5. Enhanced Data Collection: Barcodes facilitate the collection of detailed data on inventory movement, such as the time and location of each transaction. This information can be used to analyze trends, optimize stock levels, and improve decision-making processes.
  6. Streamlined Audits and Reporting: Conducting audits becomes more straightforward with barcodes, as they provide an accurate and up-to-date inventory count. This streamlining makes compliance with regulations easier and enhances the ability to generate reports quickly and accurately.
  7. Scalability and Flexibility: Barcode systems can be easily scaled to accommodate the growth of a business. Whether expanding product lines or entering new markets, barcodes provide a flexible solution that can adapt to changing needs without significant additional investment.
  8. Enhanced Customer Satisfaction: Efficient inventory management ensures that products are available when customers need them, reducing the risk of stockouts and backorders. This reliability enhances customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Is a Mobile Barcoding Solution the Best Alternative for Heavy Barcode Scanners?

Barcode scanners are of various types and are designed to handle and process a variety of codes. However, most of the conventional scanners, though efficient are quite heavy to handle. This poses a serious usability issue, since carrying these scanners across different areas of warehouse proves cumbersome and inefficient. Added to that are high maintenance and replacement costs, negatively impacting the financial efficiency of an organization’s warehouse.

To mitigate these problems, a mobile inventory management solution that leverages the power of barcode scanning is the right choice for a warehouse looking to optimize the efficiency of the inventory operations. In this context, explore Propel Apps’ mobile barcoding solution that lets a warehouse streamline its complex supply chain processes for Oracle EBS, Oracle Cloud, and SAP S/4 HANA while efficiently capturing and maintaining its barcode data.

While the solution is quite handy, intuitive and affordable, it provides an alternative, yet efficient alternative for costly and heavy barcode scanners. Above all, this solution even works offline where internet connectivity is poor and is easily customizable, based on an organization’s unique inventory workflows. Interested to know more? Schedule a call with us to get a free demo of our solution.

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