The Greatest Guide to Barcodes

Barcode with red light ray and binary code in background

Barcodes are an important part in every single purchase made by consumers. But it is a rarity that anyone pays much attention to them when grocery or clothes shopping. The revolutionary piece of technology that is the barcode has a vital impact in the successful and systematic running of both local and global economies as well as both smaller and larger business enterprises. Let’s take a closer look at the barcode.

The barcode explained:

When you buy barcodes for your business, what are you getting? What is the definition of a barcode? A barcode can be defined as a “A machine-readable code in the form of numbers and a pattern of parallel lines of varying widths, printed on and identifying a product”. In reality, this definition does not nearly begin to explain what the barcodes is and what it is actually capable of.  A barcoding system aids businesses and other institutions keep a record of their products, their cost, and inventory levels for central administration in a computer program, permitting unbelievable increases in output and productivity.

The creation of the barcode meant that simple information about products was able to be quickly and effortlessly interpreted by a laser barcode scanner, and then entered automatically into a computer database. This is because the lines of varying widths that you see on the barcode pattern in reality represent numbers, that then represent information that is contained in the computer software. This invention greatly reduced the time necessary to record product information both at checkout and in stock take, and also effectively eradicated the chance of human error innate in manual data entry.

The first barcodes began in its simple 1-dimensional form comprising of black lines on a white background that could exclusively be interpreted only by scanners designed especially for that purpose. Today, barcodes can come in both 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional forms, in different shapes, sizes, designs and even colours, that can now even be read on mobile phones.

1-dimensional vs 2-dimensional barcodes:

When your business wants to buy a barcode, there are two main types of barcodes that are used today are 1D and 2D barcodes in a linear formation. The most recognizable one is the Universal Product Code, that consists of 2 main characteristics – the barcode itself and the corresponding 12-digit number. This number can be broken down into 3 parts; the first 6 digits indicate the identification number of the manufacturer, the following 5 digits indicate the number of the item itself and the last digit is called a check digit, and this allows the scanner to determine whether or not the barcode has been correctly scanned.

A 2D barcodes is a bit more of a complex form and can hold additional information about the price of a product, the website for it and even a picture. Barcodes in this form can only be scanned by an imaging device, such as a smartphone. These barcodes are great because they can be used for more than asset and inventory tracking, as a QR code (a form of a 2D barcode) can contain as many as 7000 numbers and 4000 letters and is being used by businesses today to share data or even websites to consumers.

How do barcodes function:

The way that barcodes function is through a combination of symbology, and a scanner that can make sense of the symbology and convert them into information that can be understood by humans. The kind of information that is produced from the scanning process is the origin of the product, how much it costs, what kind of product it is and where it is located. Once the scanner reads the symbology, the information it translates is automatically entered into and stored in a computer database system.

Barcode technology has provided businesses with countless benefits. It has created a means for global distribution networks and allows for large international retail names to ensure that all their products are properly stocked with their proper price all over the world. But barcodes are not just for the rich and powerful! This technology has become a critical tool for small and medium businesses, and many other unrelated industries like hospitals and government, to keep a record of assets, equipment and materials and to ensure activities run smoothly.

Let’s take a closer look at the way that barcodes are being used in business!

Ways that businesses use barcodes:

  1. Barcodes help the process of stock take:

Stock items will all have barcode labels attached to them, so when an item is removed, the barcode can be scanned to decrease the amount available in your inventory tracking database, instead of having to manually type the stock keeping unit information about in.

  1. Barcodes allow you to keep track of your assets:

All business, regardless of their size, will have computer based or fixed assets of some sort. Businesses cannot function without these. Barcodes can be attached to these assets so that they can be scanned so that management can keep a track of where these assets are and which employee has access to them.

  1. Barcodes are used to make the process of returns easier:

Barcodes are attached to the return-mail postcards, and these barcodes will correspond to the serial number of the specific product, which can then be tracked instantaneously.

  1. Barcodes on invoices:

Perhaps one of the most inventive ways businesses are using barcodes is on invoices. These barcodes are used to represent individual customers so if anything is returned with payment, it will be an easy process locating the account of the customer or the invoice number.

So, how can using barcodes be beneficial for your business? What is the bottom line? In reality it is actually the systems behind barcodes that revolutionise businesses. But what is a system without the thing that makes it function? If your small business is looking to buy barcodes South Africa has many great local resellers, check this one out!

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