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Why Barcode Scanners Are Important and How to Use One for a Physical Inventory Counts

To consumers, barcode scanners do not mean anything. But for businesses, this device plays an immensely important role.

Barcoding Is An Important Tool For Inventory Management

Barcodes are a visual representation of a product or item’s data. These can include shipping information, product information, and manufacturer, using lines and spaces. Once all the products in a company’s inventory system have each been assigned a UPC barcode, which is a series of numbers that will provide two pieces of information: product detail and manufacturer, the codes are then printed and affixed to individual products. Once a customer checks out one of the items, the barcode is scanned using a point-of-sale (POS) system, automatically updating inventory levels.

Inventory Barcode scanners offer great value to businesses

Warehouse inventory barcode scanners
Warehouse inventory barcode scanners

Inventory barcode scanners offer a lot of value to businesses. Here are some of the reasons your company should use an inventory barcode scanning device.

• Easy to implement

An inventory barcode scanner is easy to use and implement since it can be quickly installed and operated with a simple driver. This means that anyone in your staff can be easily trained to use such types of scanners. This means that your company doesn’t need to spend a lot of money to use a UPC scanner.

• Prevents human error

Barcodes contain crucial information about each product in your inventory. By using a wireless barcode scanner to scan data on an item that a customer wants to buy, all the necessary information will be readily available to your staff, eliminating human errors, such as incorrect price or manufacturer information. Once your employee scans the code, the merchandise will be ready for check out. This means that such a device is an investment that yields long-term ROI and serves as a safety net for your company.

• Increases efficiency

When a customer asks about a product’s information or history, your staff won’t need to rummage through old files to find it. A handheld barcode scanner will easily fetch any information that will help your business make more sales. This makes buyers take your business more seriously since they know that you put a lot of effort into making sure that you give them top-notch customer service and 100 percent satisfaction at all times.

• Saves a lot of time

If you do your inventory the traditional way, which is to physically log in and record product information manually, you’re going to need a lot of time to do so. Retrieving such information will again take a lot of time. But if you store information in barcodes and scan them with a scanner, this will save you and your staff a lot of time and effort, which can be used to take care of other important business matters.

Similarly, updating product information can also be done almost instantaneously since all you need to do is update the data on your inventory barcode scanner app. This eliminates delays and ensures accuracy, which is extremely important for businesses.

• Saves money

Since all product data can be saved digitally when you use a barcode system, you won’t need to spend anything on resources. This helps your company save considerable amounts of money on paper, pens, and the like. Using a warehouse barcode scanner system also helps your business fulfill its social responsibility to provide a balance between economic growth and the welfare of nature and society since you’ll be going paperless in your inventory.

How to use barcode scanners for physical inventory

Retail Inventory Barcode Scanner
Retail Inventory Barcode Scanner

Using a retail inventory barcode scanner system to track all the products in your inventory offers a lot of benefits. For one, it offers you more control since you’ll be able to set safety stock levels, determine economic order quantity (EOQ), and calculate reorder points. However, to ensure success in implementing the barcode system, you have to plan it carefully to avoid constant retooling. Using a retail inventory barcode scanner system to track all the products in your inventory offers a lot of benefits. For one, it offers you more control since you’ll be able to set safety stock levels, determine economic order quantity (EOQ), and calculate reorder points. However, to ensure success in implementing the barcode system, you have to plan it carefully to avoid constant retooling.

Here are the steps to create a barcode system that will help your business improve its inventory management.

1. Know industry barcode standards

Before you use stock keeping unit (SKU) barcodes, which are scannable codes that correspond to around eight digits that tie to your product profile, location, price, and other essential details, you have to make sure that the codes comply with industry standards and guidelines.

• Code 39 – automotive and defense

• Data Matrix – electronics, retail, and government

• Bookland EAN-13 – book publishing

• Codabar – logistics and healthcare

• Code 128 – supply chain management

You should also consider the size you need when choosing which barcode should be used. For example, Code 39 should be larger, while Data Matrix can be used on smaller items.

2. Determine barcode functions

The word “inventory” can mean a wide variety of things. Catego

ries for inventory functions include the following:

• Maintenance, repair, and operating (MRO) supplies

• Raw materials

• Packing materials

• Finished goods

• Resell items

To be able to succeed with your inventory accounting processes,

you need to ensure that you label inventory according to its function. For instance, tracking permanent physical inventory, such as office furniture, software, hardware, and vehicles, aids in calculating depreciation. Similarly, keeping track of raw materials to finished goods ensures that you’ll be able to determine the accurate cost of goods sold (COGS).

3. Choose barcode information

Determine the information you need to store in your barcodes because this will dictate the barcode to use based on industry guidelines.

Generally, retail prices are not meant to be embedded because these could change over time. Besides that, your POS system will automatically apply the current price of an item once it is scanned at checkout.

Some of the useful information that you should embed in barcodes include:

• Store/warehouse location

• Item name and description

• Sizes and colors

• Vendor information

• Purchase cost

• Product category

Decide on the amount of information you want to store in each barcode, which will be read by your barcode scanner for inventory, so you can determine whether you will

use one-dimensional or two-dimensional codes. You can use up to 800 characters to ensure scanning speed and accuracy.

4. Select hardware and software

There are three basic barcode scanners:

• Fixed – barcode scanning devices that are attached to your POS terminal, like those at grocery checkout counters

• Wireless – portable scanners that allow you to instantly transmit data to your inventory system

• Portable batch – scanners that allow you to store and download information at a

later time

Depending on the barcodes you are going to use, your barcode software should integrate well with your POS system to ensure maximum ROI.

5. Implement barcode procedures

“Garbage in, garbage out” (GIGO) is a computer science maxim that you should not use in your inventory management. To ensure data accuracy, use standardized inventory procedures.

The barcode inventory best practices you should use include:

• Train employees on how to use your inventory count scanner properly so that you can be sure that everyone is on the same page, ensuring consistency and accuracy at all times.

• Define barcode side and placement to ensure uniformity.

• Use inventory key performance indicators (KPIs), such as stock-to-sales ratio, safety stock levels, sell-through rates, and the like, to be able to reduce the amount of money tied up in inventory.

A few final words

It’s important for your business to determine how your team can best work with the barcode inventory system. This will depend on how your workflow works, what software you are using, and how your inventory is physically stored.

You can scan each product as you go to avoid overlooking something but can run the risk of interrupting the flow. Alternatively, you can scan everything in one go, but risk missing certain details, especially if an item is taken from a tray or storage box as you can lose the packaging that will remind you of its use.


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