Many small businesses are turning to barcode systems to track inventory and speed checkout procedures. With a simple barcode printer and scanner, any business can implement this system. It is fairly intuitive to use, but knowing a few key tips can smooth the transition to a new system. Rather than jumping in full force, take the time to look over these tips and ensure that you fully understand the system.
1. Choose a Program That Integrates with Inventory.
Business Bee believes that barcode should be a multipurpose feature. “Inventory tracking software helps you extend your reach beyond physical barcode scanning.” One of the biggest benefits to using a barcode label and scanner is the ability to track inventory. When a barcode is scanned as part of a sale, that item is removed from inventory automatically. A business owner can easily see which products are selling well, track daily sales figures, and have access to accurate inventory numbers. This benefit is even greater when a point-of-sale system is integrated with an online store, because items will be marked out of stock in both formats.
2. Apply Printed Barcodes Carefully.
A wrinkled barcode will never scan correctly. It is important to apply each barcode sticker to be smooth and flat. This might seem common sense, but when an employee is applying hundreds of labels, it can be relatively easy to make a mistake on one of them. Stopping to check a price or key in a number by hand can significantly slow your checkout line.
3. Follow a Uniform Labeling Procedure.
Along with applying barcode labels smoothly, it is also beneficial to apply them all in the same location. Create a uniform labeling procedure that helps employees apply all barcodes in the same way. When all barcodes can be found in the same corner of a product package and face the same direction, it is easy to scan items at the checkout.
4. Practice Using the Barcode Scanner.
With any new technology, there is likely to be a learning curve. When a business is implementing a barcode system and scanner for the first time, it is important to train all employees on how to use it. The scanner works best when held at an angle to the product. Employees should be confident using any kind of equipment and should be able to troubleshoot problems that may arise.
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5. Be Attentive to Possible Reflections.
Barcode scanners work by using laser beams to scan a barcode. It is the reason for a barcode’s simple black-and-white pattern. When other factors affect a scanner’s ability to interpret the light correctly, the result can be an unreliable reading or an inability to scan. Avoid extraneous light, such as from another type of sensor. Additionally, if the tabletop of background is metallic, Sensor Central recommends “to cover the metal surface hit by the laser beam or to apply flat black paint to the surface.”
6. Include Additional Information in Barcode Data.
It might be impractical to include every detail about a product on its package. Barcode systems can be an excellent way to attach additional information to a product without going overboard on the label. Include information that might be used to upsell other products, notes to the business owner, or any other relevant data.
7. Choose a Barcode System that is Mobile.
There is no reason to haul your computer around the building from the front room to the receiving area to update product inventory. Shopify can make tracking your current inventory a breeze. Urban Times suggests that, “you can use a smartphone application to print barcodes while you’re in the warehouse, like a barcode printer from Shopify. That way you don’t have to bring your entire system into the receiving area.”
8. Back Up Your Inventory Data.
Although a cloud system for tracking inventory makes it easy to access from wherever you are, a backup in case of a problem is a good idea. “You should backup your inventory—no matter if you have a mobile system or not—in case there is ever any downtime with your servers or another issues,” says Urban Times. That way, your shop can keep running, even in a worst-case scenario.
For businesses that will be selling products through a third party, such as Amazon.com, having a reliable barcode system is not just smart, it is required. Barcode data will include unique information about your product that sets it apart from any others. It will include basic information about the product, but also about your business. Even if you only ever intend to sell products form a single storefront and an e-commerce shop, barcodes can keep things organized as your revenue increases. As your company grows, the practicality of using a barcode system will as well.