What is barcode inventory system software?
Barcode inventory system software is a type of program that is used to track inventory levels, sales, and other data using barcodes. This software can be used to generate reports, track trends, and manage inventory.
How To Find the Barcode Inventory System Software Your Business Needs
What is a Barcode Inventory System?
A barcode inventory system is a highly advanced inventory management system that has at its center unique numeric or alpha-numeric codes known as barcodes. These are printed on labels that are pasted on products.
Barcodes are either a collection of vertical white and black lines (one-dimensional barcodes) or a maze of intricate patterns (two-dimensional barcodes). The latter is also called quick response codes or QR codes.
Barcodes and QR codes contain massive amounts of information about a product like its category, weight, price, manufacturing date, use-before date, name of the manufacturer, geolocation data, website address, email address, and so on, all crammed together in a very small space. QR codes can contain a far greater amount of data than simple barcodes, given their ability to digitally represent data across both horizontal and vertical axes, and store a greater number of characters.
Barcode scanners are used to read and interpret the coded information and present it to users in an easily digestible manner with the help of software. The software, if cloud based, stores the data and presents it on demand to the user, wherever they are and whatever handheld device they are using. Data updates are provided in real time.
Barcode scanners are connected to mobiles/desktops/laptops with a wire, through a USB port, or wirelessly through Bluetooth technology. Apps may also be downloaded to turn smartphones into readymade barcode and QR code readers, for instance, to access online menu cards. These mobile apps are the tools of a cloud based inventory management system.
Components of a Barcode Inventory System- Hardware
The barcode scanners referred to in the preceding section are part of the hardware component of the barcode inventory system. The parts of the scanner include the illuminator, sensor, and decoder. Barcode hardware also includes wired or Bluetooth printers, mobile devices, computer terminals, and barcodes or QR codes.
Simple one-dimensional barcodes typically contain eight to twelve alpha-numeric/numeric characters represented by black and white lines that hold information horizontally. Two-dimensional barcodes or QR codes contain patterns like squares and dots and, as earlier mentioned, store data both horizontally and vertically.
Barcodes are created using printers and barcode labels are printed on products. Sometimes, barcodes and product information are etched directly on the surface of the product. These are direct part marking (DPM) barcodes.
The barcodes are read by scanners using LED light. The scanner throws light on the barcodes, which when reflected back, is detected by its sensor. An analog signal is then generated by the sensor. This signal is interpreted by the decoder and turned into text. A barcode scanner may be linked to a computer system through a wire, USB port, or wirelessly. Smartphone cameras can also be used to scan codes and transfer data to software.
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Components of a Barcode Inventory System- Software
The inventory software running on PCs and mobile devices receives the product information decrypted by barcode scanning and displays it on the screen as text that users can understand.
The finest inventory management solutions are cloud based and barcode-based. These solutions are in the nature of mobile apps for barcode scanning and inventory management. Such apps allow you to undertake inventory counts without even using a barcode scanner.
Simply take your smartphone/tablet and launch the inventory app, aim the mobile camera at the product barcode, and do a scan. You can then examine the scanned information on the mobile device even when you are not at the business site.
This way, all the information about a product is available at your fingertips thanks to smart software. Inventory updates can be seen in real time even without elaborate hardware support. This kind of sophisticated inventory management solves many of the problems that hobble manual and spreadsheet-based processes and legacy software.
Benefits of a Barcode Inventory System
1. A barcode system improves inventory control by enabling businesses to place orders judiciously, so as to avoid stock-outs and buildup of dead stock. This reduces the wastage of Raw Materials and inventory holding costs, thereby increasing savings. Additionally, it enables businesses to increase profitability by meeting consumer demand immediately. One of the Best Practices of inventory management is 'first in, first out' (FIFO), whereby the oldest inventory is used first. A barcode inventory system helps implement the FIFO method.
2. A barcode-based system uses data to inform decisions. For instance, if a company has a lot of unsold inventory, barcodes can be used to find best-selling items, increasing the likelihood that unsold inventory will be sold. Additionally, businesses are able to target their promotions in a better way, create strong loyalty programs, offer attractive deals and discounts, and improve product design and price thanks to the customer data obtained through the barcode system.
3. Using barcodes to effectively manage inventory lowers unreported losses and errors in inventory counting. Barcode scanners allow businesses to track which products are sold and what quantities are sold at the point of sale (POS). Moreover, inventory reconciliation becomes better with stock usage data. Individual items can be easily tracked as they move through the different supply chain stages thanks to barcode scanning. A barcode system makes it simpler to identify the precise steps that can lead to loss. Additionally, they offer audit records to identify theft easily.
4. By adopting barcode scanning technology to automatically add products to purchase orders, businesses can decrease the errors associated with order fulfillment. This ensures error-free deliveries and boosts customer satisfaction.
5. Barcode scanners help save costs and boost productivity. For instance, a business with multiple locations might learn after a barcode scan that an item is running low in one place but is still available at another. As a result, the business will be able to replenish stocks in the first location by supplying surplus from the second, avoiding supply disruptions in the process.
Types of Barcode Inventory Systems
The type of barcode inventory technology used is determined by the type of barcode and nature of the scanners used.
One of the oldest available barcodes, still very much in use, is an alphanumeric, linear, one-dimensional code called Code 39 that is able to incorporate the ASCII 128-character set in its entirety.
ASCII, in this regard, stands for the American Standard Code for Information Interchange and is a 128-character, 7-bit character set. All the English upper- and lower-case alphabets, numerals from 0 to 9, along with a few special characters, make up the ASCII character set. Code 39 can extend to any length.
However, if the space available on the product is too little, Code 128 works better. This is a compact barcode, which is also based on the ASCII 128-character set. Code 128's automatic switching setup helps in optimizing barcode lengths.
You also have interleaved 2 of 5 barcodes, which are fully numeric barcodes, used for encoding number pairs. Essentially every two numerals are paired in order to create a symbol.
A universal product code, on the other hand, comprises a 12-digit number as well as a barcode and was originally created for fast inventory tracking and receipt printing.
There is also the data matrix, which is a commonly used, square 2D barcode that can be interpreted with the help of sophisticated scanners like smartphone cameras.
As far as barcode scanners are concerned, there can be pen wands, slot scanners, charge couple device (CCD) scanners, image scanners, and laser scanners.
A pen wand is a device without moving parts. It requires direct contact with the barcode and operates at a specific angle in order to collect data.
A slot scanner is stationary and the scanning can be done by pulling the object to be scanned through a slot on the barcode scanner.
A CCD scanner has a user interface that looks like a gun. It is typically held near the barcode, and takes multiple scans to correctly and precisely record data.
An image scanner, on the other hand, makes use of a tiny camera to capture a picture of the barcode. This kind of barcode scanner can interpret barcodes from nine inches away and carries digital imaging processors.
Finally, there is the laser scanner, which, much like an image scanner, can read barcodes from a distance. A laser scanner makes use of mirrors and lenses and can operate from 24 inches away.
How To Find the Right Barcode Inventory System Software
Inventory management can be made quick and simple with the help of a high-grade barcode scanner and barcode inventory software.
Ensure that the scanner is Ingress Protection (IP)-rated, especially in a food and beverage organization, in which pieces of hardware are prone to damage due to falls, submergence, or dust exposure. IP ratings indicate the degree of protection against dust and liquid. Look for a minimum rating of IP68 which tells you that your equipment is resistant to both dust and water.
You also need to choose scanners that match your work environment. In well-lit conditions, you may need increased brightness on your scanners and for dimly-lit places, scanners with reduced brightness are best suited.
Ensure that the scanner keys are ergonomic too. Choose scanners by factoring in the scanning distance and kind of codes that you usually work with.
Much like the inventory system barcode scanner, the associated software should also be chosen keeping the specific needs of the business in mind.
Large businesses need more sophisticated inventory management tools since their inventories are more complicated.
Make a list of your operational issues and objectives and see if your inventory software fits the bill. Your specific objectives may include reducing inventory carrying costs, simple scalability, speedier operations, and heightened profitability. Select software solutions according to the complexity of your inventory needs.
You must decide how much you are ready to pay for a software product. There are certain features that you simply can't do without. For instance, if you sell through multiple sales channels, you'll need a robust system that can handle these channels. Cost calculation involves weighing your most pressing needs against the charge required to avail software features to take care of those needs.
Moreover, your inventory software and barcode scanner system should be easily integrated with the existing hardware and software in your establishment, and integrate with other vital service providers like shipping providers, logistics providers, and accounting systems.
It is also advisable to use cloud based software that offers real time updates and allows data to be accessed by multiple users, from multiple locations, and at any time.
Both the inventory software and barcode scanner system should be easy to use, and technical support and training available with the software is an added advantage.
Barcode Inventory FAQs
1. In what way do barcodes function?
A. Product information is encoded in a machine-readable visual pattern via barcodes. They comprise a set of vertically-drawn white and black lines that represent different text characters according to the algorithm for the barcode type used. A new text will appear if the order of the barcode lines is changed. A barcode scanner reads this pattern, decodes the information, and converts it into text that computers can comprehend.
2. How small can barcodes be?
A. Squares in two-dimensional barcodes can be as small as 1/8th of an inch. A smaller barcode, however, will hold a smaller number of characters, and will also need high-resolution barcode label printers that can create codes easily read by scanners.
3. Are special programs required for barcode scanners to function?
A. Barcode scanners do not require any specialized software to function. When entering data, barcode scanners resemble keyboards and are recognized as standard input devices by computers.