Barcodes are now an integral part of daily life. No longer restricted to use in warehouse settings or at supermarket checkouts, consumers are now able to utilise their smartphones and tablets to access product info and stock availability simply by scanning the barcode in store.
Despite their familiarity, it’s important to recognise that barcode technology is actually revolutionary. It’s difficult to imagine how enterprises accurately managed their stock, delivery and sales before they could rapidly scan the barcode and gain real-time information.
So, what exactly is a barcode and what can it tell us?
A barcode is essentially a series of numbers, lines or symbols which can be read by a machine. These unique and informative codes allow specific products to be identified, logged and tracked.
Developed nearly 70 years ago and evolving ever since, barcodes now come in a variety of formats. The more traditional, 1 dimensional, parallel line and number type provide text-based manufacturer and product-specific detail, however more recent, smartphone-friendly 2 Dimensional codes (or QR codes) take the provision of detail to a whole new level. They hold as much as 7,000 digits or 4,000 characters of text and share detailed information via websites or video, integrating the data with a whole variety of programs, databases and files.
But, regardless of whether it is 1D or 2D, the barcode is also so much more… It is the entry point to a centralised management system which, with the aid of computer software, allows a level of speed, accuracy and efficiency which traditional stock control methods could never have hoped to achieve.
It is also an instantaneous way for shoppers to gain product information without the need to wait in line for assistance – or even leave the comfort of their own home.
Harnessing the power of the barcode: –
- For supply chain managers, the barcode is a way of allocating identifiers for specific batches (of paramount importance in the case of complaints or product recalls), tracking goods at any point within their journey and dynamically managing stock levels in such a way that supply can meet demand without the risk of product deterioration or costly over-stocking
- For consumers, easy access to barcode technology empowers them in product choice, providing specifications, pricing information and customer reviews and allows the quick comparison of buying options with just one or two clicks
- For brands, there is now a new route to reach out to consumers as they are researching and buying, introducing a valuable opportunity to engage with them and nurture loyalty and showcase their efficient and effective customer service
- For retailers, the checkout process has been revolutionised by giving staff a fast and reliable way of processing purchased items, or indeed by giving the shoppers the power and convenience to process their own basket contents and bypass the potential ‘pinch point’ at the tills
From manufacture to shop floor, barcodes and barcode scanners have the potential to change fortunes. The enterprises who embrace their use and recognise their value can achieve higher levels of productivity, accuracy and visibility within their operations. What’s more, in order to compete effectively in today’s markets, there is a real need to satisfy time-poor, tech-savvy consumers with the detail they need – rapidly and with a reassuring level of accuracy.
At PLM Global we recognise the true importance of this technology and that is why we specialise in the supply, repair and maintenance of hand-held scanners, mobile print and EPoS hardware, whatever the specific application. To find out more get in touch