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Why Small Businesses Need a Barcode Inventory System

Most business owners are always looking to implement new strategies to make their daily operations run smoother, easier and more efficiently.  One very basic way to streamline business operations often gets overlooked.  It’s not flashy and the practice itself has been around for a long time (which makes it more surprising it gets overlooked so often).  Implementing a dedicated barcode inventory system is a simple way to save your business money, save time for your employees and save you a great deal of stress over lost, misplaced or depreciated inventory.

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Puting a barcode system in place before an emergency takes place is the first step.  Many customers look for a barcode system after they have lost inventory to theft, natural disaster, human error or depreciation. Using barcode technology is easier to implement than most people think.  Other businesses have already made the change and are examples of how easy it really is. Here is a compilation of 7 reasons why you should incorporate barcode technology now.

Reduce Errors

The biggest reason to adopt barcodes is that they reduce many transcription errors and other problems caused by manually keying in information into documents or database systems. Even the most skilled typist will make one error in every 300 keystrokes. Over time, when mistakes aren’t caught or removed from record, human error becomes very costly. When using a barcode scanner, all that employees have to do is simply scan a barcode instead of manually writing something down or typing something.  Simple, easy and virtually mistake free.

Related Article: Barcodes and Books

With today’s globalized supply chain, barcodes solve a lot of problems when people speak and write different languages. Barcodes work the same way in any country no matter what language the user speaks.

Faster than handwriting or typing

As mentioned before, scanning barcodes is much faster than typing or handwriting. A person with a device, whether a smartphone or a laser scanner, can walk around a warehouse and immediately scan items without having to write things down or key it into some database or, even worse, an Excel document and risking costly errors. At any time, your Excel workbook could be out-of-sync with your actual inventory count.  If you haven’t updated inventory numbers, what you see in Excel may not reflect what you actually have on-hand. Using barcodes, all the person needs to do is scan each item. This makes workers much more productive and accurate, saving time and money.

Reduce training time

Barcodes are already faster than writing or typing. The reason they’re a good fit for many businesses is that many people are already familiar with them. Nearly every supermarket these days has a self-checkout station where shoppers can scan their own groceries. Just about every print advertisement has a QR code that people can scan with their smartphones. Since many people, even if they’ve never been behind a cash register before, can scan barcodes, the time and money required to train them is minimal.

Cheap to print

While RFID tags are viable for things like inventory tracking, nothing can beat a printed barcode in terms of cost. Other than a barcode reader, they require no extra equipment. Barcodes can be created on an ordinary inkjet or laser printer, which is equipment that most offices have already.

Easy-to-track inventory

One of the biggest uses of barcodes other than in point-of-sale transactions is inventory management. Since almost all products have a UPC code already, it’s easy for a retail store to track the inventory in both warehouses and on the store shelves. In a supply chain, it’s essential to know the exact location and quantity of items.

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Too many businesses start shopping for inventory management software after a major inventory disaster has happened.  Don’t let losing thousands or even millions of dollars in lost, stolen or damaged inventory be the driving force behind making this a priority.  By being proactive and taking care of your investment now, you are creating a more secure future for yourself, the employees that count on you as well as the business itself.

Quick to obtain data

It’s a lot faster to scan a QR code or other bar code with a mobile device than it is to manually key it in to a search engine and hope to get some relevant results. With barcodes, users can scan items and get immediate feedback that is tailored to an item in every field, from healthcare to retail.

With one scan, 2D barcodes can instantly share how many of each item is in stock, what items need ordered and even what items there are too many of.  They can hold up to 4,000 characters of text so even more information on each inventory item can be added if needed. Having barcoded items, and a powerful system behind them, will help your company reap a number of benefits like vendor management, mobility, quick audits and cycle counts, accurate reporting and more.  All to get your business back on the road to profitability.

Proven technology

While supermarket scanners only became commonplace in the 1970s, barcode technology has a long and fascinating history dating back to the 1940s. They were invented by Bernard Silver in 1948 while he was a graduate student at Drexel University to track grocery store items at checkout. In the 1950s, David Collins, an MIT graduate student, invented a system that would track railroad cars.

Modern day 2D Barcodes can store over 7,000 characters, allowing you to transmit almost two paragraphs of information. (In contrast 1D Barcodes can only hold a maximum of 85 characters.) By moving to 2D barcodes, businesses are able to convey much more complex information, like expiration dates and serial numbers, all without the need for any additional scanning.

Your business is like a well oiled machine.  All of the parts are required for the machine to run smoothly, quietly and without stopping.  Take one piece out and you will notice right away.  The machine doesn’t run smoothly, it’s loud and eventually it will stop running altogether.  Skipping over a dedicated barcode system is just like removing a part from the machine.  Inventory loss piles up, customer orders can’t be filled and  you are spending money ordering items you already have simply because you don’t know you have them.  These costs add up quickly until your business isn’t running at all, just like the machine.  All of this can be avoided by being proactive and implementing barcode software now.  A very simple (an not at all flashy) solution.

How would using barcodes help your business manage inventory?

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Paul Trujillo

Paul Trujillo is a Product Marketing Manager at Informatics specializing in Inventory Warehouse Management and Supply Chain product lines. His nearly 15 years of experience has put him at the forefront of industry technology and developing trends.

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