Barcoding Your Products for Retail: What is it and How Do You Do It?by Josh Biggs in Tech on 22nd December 2019
Are you stuck on pen and paper or MS Excel templates for your business inventory? Do you still think barcodes are damn complicated and expensive? Well, let me light your way out of the darkness.
Among the changes that have landed on the business, the scene is the automation of tasks that were otherwise annoying. If you are not leveraging practice management software and other ICT goodies brought forward by computers, then you are surely going to lose the business.
Any business that stocks products can benefit from a barcode system. Barcoding is a genius way to store some or all the information about a product in image stickers on the product. That way, if customers needed to access information about the product, they would scan the label, and the information pops in their smart devices.
Another advantage of barcoding your products is you no longer have to hand-type each product into the inventory list. Manually entering each product information is tedious, and becomes a nuisance after some time no matter how much you are excited about your new business.
There’s also the risk of errors of omission, and commission, etc. Inventory inaccuracy makes up 8.7 percent of lost sales. With barcodes, the scanner and barcode software ring up sales faster and accurately.
Another use of barcodes is to track your products and shipments. Barcodes are not used for pricing and inventory only. You can also use barcodes to track and trace your products through the supply chain. These types of barcodes contain product addresses, serial shipping codes, etc. Find out more about supply chain barcodes and labels at enKo.
Other types of barcodes include:
- UPC or EAN – Barcodes that are scanned at the retail point of sale – they can be seen in almost all the products sold in the world
- CODE 128 – Used in the supply chain to store serial shipping codes. Can be used to track and trace product between producer and retailer.
- ITF – used to label packaging materials
- GS1 DATABAR – Used to identify consumer coupons
- QR CODE – Used in advertising, marketing, and tracking initiatives.
- DATAMATRIX CODE – Small barcodes for very small products
How to get started on barcoding your products? Here’re the quick steps to implementing a barcode system for small businesses:
Generate Barcode Numbers for Your Products
Armed with a spreadsheet of all products, it’s time to generate unique bar code numbers for each item. You can generate your barcode numbers using web software or buy them from databases such as UPC and GS1.
If you want barcodes for internal office use, then self-generated barcodes should do the trick. Use web software or barcode font to generate code 3 or 9 barcodes, then print these images and stick them on your product. But if you want barcodes for tracking coupons, logistics, trade, etc., then you’ll want to get barcodes from databases such as UPC and GS1
Label Your Inventory Using the Barcode Numbers.
Now that you’ve got barcode numbers for each of your product, use a dedicated label printer such as DYMO’s LabelWriter 450 to print and stick the barcode labels on your stocks. The best printer should allow the generation of barcode stickers in different sizes. Things to note when printing and sticking the barcode stickers are:
- For barcodes that carry static information, traditional print is okay, but for barcodes that carry changing information, digital printing is a must.
- Where the barcode will be scanned determines the barcode type, size, placement, and even quality. For those to be scanned at the point of sale, omnidirectional scanning should be possible.
- Be consistent where you place the asset barcode stickers, so it’s easy for people to scan.
- You are going to have to repeat this step when new products arrive.
Tie Everything Together Using Inventory Software
While you can begin with a barcode and a scanner, at some point, you have to start taking note of the inventory in your business. And unfortunately, just barcodes and scanners alone won’t provide all the info, unless they’re super specialized – which small businesses can’t afford. Simple barcodes only carry an alphanumeric code, so use inventory software to make sense of this code. The best inventory software has the following features:
- Recognizes every barcode you scanned and which specific product they’re tied to.
- Automatically generates barcode numbers for new inventory
- Integrated with accounting software for correct ledger changes and invoice generation.
Ta-dah! There you go. There are barcodes for any business activity you want to do, be it inventory management, price determination, or tracking shipping serial numbers.
And the great news is barcodes are not expensive. With many barcode management software retailers in the market, barcoding is now affordable. Depending on what you want to accomplish, with just a few hundred dollars, you could have a complete barcode system running.