Home > Blog > How can you Streamline Inventory Management using Barcode Scanning?

What’s the biggest goal of your e-commerce business? Is it organizing inventory operations so that the operational costs get minimized while the profit margins get amplified? Isn’t it? But what’s the one thing you must invest in to keep up with the operations? 

Deploying an agile barcoding system = managed and efficient inventory management. Why? Barcoding can simply save all the hassles of manually tracking and monitoring the inventory by giving you quick access to your product along with its description, availability in the warehouse, prices, and many other aspects. Additionally, for large businesses with diverse and complex product lines, a barcode scanning system monitors inventory, tracks assets, creates orders while enhancing operational efficiency. 

In a nutshell, an inventory management software works best with a fast and accurate barcoding system and becomes completely necessary if you:

  • Manage your inventory on a big scale in a warehouse
  • Have vendor alliances who rely on barcode scanning
  • Sell through multiple sales channels online/offline

As useful as a barcode inventory management system is, the process to fully equip your warehouse and utility centers with this system can be a little tricky and time-consuming. And there are plenty of tools that support this low-cost data collection technology. But which one is best for your business? 

Let us understand what exactly a barcode is, and how you can manage inventory  & warehouse efficiently using barcodes. 

What are Barcodes – 1D Barcode vs 2D Barcode

Barcodes are a machine-readable representation of numerics and characters. They generally consist of bars and spaces and are used in tracking inventory at an operational level. While it is difficult for a person to manually store letters and numbers in the backend system, a barcode scanner device can track multiple characters at a single point in time, saving both time and money. 

types of barcodes - 1d barcodes and 2d barcodes

Barcode tracking or scanning is the method to streamline inventory allocation, tracking, and maintenance. When scanned, each barcode exhibits specific information and data about each item from the Universal Product Code (UPC) which is then transferred to your online inventory database. The labels and functions on your inventory can also be easily customized as per industry standards to help you be updated.

Typically, a barcode system is classified into two different types; 1D and 2D. Although the scanners might seem simple, it’s important for you to distinguish between the two hardware types as their contrasting functionalities make a lot of difference.

1D Barcodes

One-dimensional barcodes come in numeric and alpha-numeric forms. They are a unique combination of vertical bars of different widths and numbers. The space present between the lines generally allows the scanners to recognize the product. While these types of barcodes are used to track inventory including raw materials, finished products, products sold, etc., you can also use them to track fixed assets for keeping financial records balanced. Some types of 1D barcodes are; USPS IMB, Code 39, UPC-E, EAN 128, EAN-13, etc. 

2D Barcodes

The two-dimensional barcodes provide more information to the user as compared to 1D barcodes. These types of barcodes include a combination of small lines and dots. They are generally designed as a squared-shape figure with multiple pixelated dots or geometric figures. With a single scan, these types of barcodes can disclose data, such as quantity, price, web address, image, etc. The QR code is one of the examples of these types of barcodes. Some of the examples of the 2D scanners are; Aztec, MaxiCode, Data Matrix, PDF 417, etc.

Now let us try to decode the barcoding scanning system in-depth and understand how it makes a difference for you in your efforts to manage your warehouse inventory.  

How can you Streamline Inventory Management across Warehouses with Barcode Scanning?

Due to the uniqueness of barcodes, there is no or very little room for errors. That’s what makes it best to manage your e-commerce business. Now let us try to decode how a barcode system makes a difference for you in your efforts to manage inventory & warehouse. 

Here are a few of the main reasons why you need a barcode system in your warehouse!types of barcodes - 1d barcodes and 2d barcodes

1. Organize inventory and warehouse operations easily

Since a barcode consists of a huge chunk of data including the product specs, SKU code, date of manufacturing, expiry date, country of origin, etc., which in its absence is hard to record manually. This detailed information not only lets you organize inventory in a systematized manner but also saves you from huge losses. Assume; you want to follow the FIFO system in your warehouse but checking the expiry date of each item will both consume more time and money. With barcode scanners in handy, you can process huge chunks of data within minutes by a simple scan and derive conclusive results based on real-time updates, benefitting your overall profitability.

2. Minimize the Duplication of Resources

In the warehouse, there is an increased chance for an item to get lost or misplaced. But with the help of barcode scanners, locating items in bins or shelves becomes easier, saving the unnecessary duplication of time & resources. Additionally, barcodes allow you to trace your inventory in cases of theft, wrong, and or damaged deliveries all at a single panel right at your fingertips.

3. Manage Maintenance, Repairs, and Operations (MRO) Easily

While some part of the inventory is meant to be picked and packed for shipping to the customers, another part of it is kept for maintenance, repairs, and operations (MRO). It generally consists of materials that are used in production processes and are not a part of the end product directly. For instance, you run an e-commerce business of fashion apparel. Now imagine, during the peak holiday season, you have a large volume of orders to be fulfilled but all of a sudden you ran out of some important spare parts. But if you would have a barcode scanner to scan your warehouse essentials your day would have been saved. Thus, using a barcode for MRO is imperative. 

4. Control over Information

Crucial information about various assets can be easily tracked with the help of barcode scanning and this enables each business to print and customize additional information that they wish to share with the end-users. From the built and type of inventory to the locations from where it has been sent, all can be detailed in the barcode labels.

5. Maintain Error-Proof Results

Manual dependency tends to increase the chances of errors. Ask yourself; is feeding inventory data into sheets easier for you? Maybe for 50 or 100 products, but not when you have to manage thousands of items at once. If you have a barcode system in place, you would be able to track any sort of inventory discrepancy. While you will be saved from shipping the wrong item to the wrong address, it will also reduce order returns. Thus, with barcoding, the chances of error become almost null increasing your productivity and with little to no room for data miscalculations.

6. Higher Savings

Automation not only cuts back on manual dependencies but also reduces the overall cost to a company to manage its inventory and warehouse operations. Barcoding helps you reduce labor and training costs and gives you complete visibility of inventory to help you assign work accordingly.

7. Improve the Cycle Count Process

Using Cycle Count in your warehouse surely enables you to reduce or eliminate the need for periodically or annually counting the physical inventories. But ask yourself that if your barcode system is intact then how easier will it become to implement the process. From checking the shelf location to verifying the physical count of inventory to reconciling any sort of missing inventory, everything will be sorted with a barcoding system. 

Improve your Overall Business Operations and Minimize Time & Cost Using a Barcode System!

With the overall benefits that a well-implemented barcode system can provide you, there surely are some specific improvements that you will see in your warehouse management within a short period of time post transitioning. While a barcode system in place can accelerate your business growth, it definitely possesses the power to simplify and ease out the entire process of tracking and chances of human errors. Not to mention, the bigger your business grows, the greater your operational requirements increase. But with low-cost and portable tools such as barcode scanners, you can decrease human errors and cut any sort of operational costs.

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