February 4, 2019 Last updated February 22nd, 2019 2,985 Reads share

2D Barcodes: A Breakthrough in Inventory Management Technology

Image Credit: Stockunlimited

Ever since their start in the early 1970s, bar codes have come a long way. Today, we are well aware of these long black vertical lines and see them on every product we pick up at the mall or supermarket. So, you must be now wondering, what exactly are barcodes and what is their main function? It’s easy to understand barcodes as product “fingerprints” which consist of machine-readable vertical bars with binary codes stored in them. Barcodes result in faster check-out at the cash register, better inventory control for retailers and manufacturers, and data tracking to analyze customer preferences.

Modern inventory management software tends to be more affordable, less complex has a web-based interface and will allow you to use 2D barcodes/smartphones for inventory management. Technological advancements have had a huge impact on barcodes and the market has a number of varying options. Probably the greatest breakthrough in barcode technology was the invention of 2D barcodes, which are a definite upgradation from the previously used 1D barcodes. Two-dimensional, or 2D barcodes, are used to systematically characterize data using two-dimensional symbols and shapes. Well, what is so novel and unique about 2D barcodes then? They are capable of storing more information like price, a quantity of the product, the web address of the product site and even image, compared to their 1D counterpart. 2D barcodes have the advantage of holding more data per unit area and hence, are able to help in making better business decisions.  2D codes also include some newer type of codes, some of which are:

  • QR (Quick Response) Code

    These are 2D matrix codes which have a strong consumer focus. These codes are commonly used in the retail and advertising industry as they help in tracking or marketing through advertisements, magazines or business cards. QR codes are used most often in manufacturing inventory management in order to track vehicles and sundry other products that might be used in the manufacturing process. They’re versatile and can be easily tracked for required analytics. Also, they provide quick access to customers using mobile phones, and it’s free to create QR codes. For instance, you can scan the image of the QR code given here and you will get the details behind the code. Try this once.!!

  • Datamatrix Code

    We have all surely encountered these tiny footprint codes on small goods and items that we frequently pick up from hypermarkets and retail stores. They have a high tolerance and fast readability, making them perfect for logistics management.

  • PDF417 Code

    These are the most powerful 2D codes and are able to contain huge amounts of data – they can even hold more than 1.1 kilobytes of machine-readable data! They can store photographs, signatures, fingerprints, text, and graphics. PDF417 codes are often used by the Government and fast-moving logistic firms. The description of how to read the code is being explained in the image below.

Many businesses have the perception that adopting 2D barcodes is a complicated process and it needs sophisticated equipment. That, however, is a gross misconception – adopting 2D barcodes for your business might be the best decision ever! It is very easy to use and does not require massive chunks of investment. A regular barcode scanner can be used to read 2D barcodes – they are known as 2D imagers. In fact, nowadays a simple mobile phone can be used to read 2D barcodes! There are certain specific applications which can be downloaded and be used to read 2D barcodes. Using smartphones to scan 2D barcodes has multiple benefits – it leads to no additional hardware cost, can be used at any location and can perform value-add functions such as GPS tracking and asset management.

How 2D Barcodes Have Revolutionized Inventory Management?

Inventory Management is about knowing what stock is on hand, comparing that stock to necessary requirement and then deciding about how to procure the inventory necessary to make up for any shortages. 2D barcodes have transformed the inventory management processes of modern organizations. Rugged, mobile barcode scanners now play a critical role in increasing efficiency and effectiveness of inbound inventory handling, pick and fill processes, and outbound stock handling. 2D Barcode technologies provide fast reliable data collection in order to ensure the traceability of any item or package and enhance the customer service. Mobile 2D barcode scanners allow organizations to collect data more accurately while sharing it across different systems and levels within or outside an organization. Hence, we can understand that they give organizations a reliable way to include information associated with the shipment, product, part of a product or component, and are often considered as the only practical option for accurate small-item identification.

2D scanners have the ability to take on more than one workflow operation at a time and allow for the immediate visibility of critical barcoded data. These scanners reduce data entry errors along with speeding up the transaction time, making them a satisfactory solution overall. They actually replace those old methods which would have required manual data entry, thereby saving employees’ time and reducing their potential for committing mistakes that occur during picking and shipping because of the reliance on fulfilling orders from handwritten slips. This makes it a remarkable option for logistics environment and largely simplifies the process of inventory management.

Implementation of 2D Barcodes In Inventory

1. Keeping track of stock and inventory is one of the biggest challenges of any business. 2D barcodes are a great way for companies to keep track of multiple data points on their inventory. Just a single sweep of the scanner and employees can read up to four barcodes to find out the serial number, part number, lot and date among other things. The increased efficiency leads to lesser costs, reduced work hours and better bottom line results.

Cell phone based scanning applications can be utilized as a supplement to the interior framework. The employees have the option of using smart-phones to perform various functions related to inventory like keeping records, track inventory and even check the inventory status with respect to location. The mobile applications can also be integrated into current inventory management software which allows all the transactions recorded on smartphones to directly go into your system.

2. A typical barcode inventory system greatly enhances the stock management process of a business and includes the ability to:

  • Print and scan barcodes
  • The ship, receive and count inventory
  • Handle order management
  • Tracking parts across multiple locations
  • Can integrate with your accounting system

Some other advantages of using 2D barcodes are:

Customer / Patient Recognition

2D barcodes have become a major tool in helping businesses identify and keep track of customers. It can help companies for tracking, advertising and promoting to customers according to their specific requirements. Similarly, many hospitals are also using 2D barcodes to provide quality care, administer medication and safeguard patient privacy concerns. Since these barcodes are very small in size, they can also be put on medicine bottles, packets, and vials.

Transform Market Experiences

2D barcodes can be used as immensely powerful marketing tools which create gripping and engaging market experiences. We often come across QR (quick response) codes on big magazines or advertisements which will take us a stimulating website or short viewing experience. This helps customers to get attached to a particular product or brand, and aids in providing holistic customer experiences. Hence, we see that QR codes can literally transport users and create a compelling market experience for them.

Big companies are not the only ones using 2D barcodes; many small businesses have also realized their multiple advantages and jumped on to the bandwagon! Selecting the appropriate type of barcodes for your products or the inventory or the assets can have an impacting influence on the inventory management of your business. 2d barcodes are a breakthrough invention for small and medium-sized businesses and allow them to track assets and inventory in multiple locations in real time using QR codes and smartphones. The recent trends of continuous barcode breakthroughs make the future seem bright and sunny. From the various bar code scanners available for iOS and Android mobile devices to the acclaimed bar code apps of Google Glass, this time is indeed a rejoicing time for barcode scanner manufacturers, for retail businesses relating in accordance with barcodes, and consumers alike.

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