Is it time to add barcodes to your products?

Should you go to the expense and effort of adding barcodes to your product?

Many of the benefits of barcodes are pretty obvious. You can track, trace and record stock and sales. And in the smartphone age, barcodes have become a cheap ticket delivery system, a marketing tool, and a handy access point to detailed product information for customers and business owners alike.

If you are considering adding a barcode to your own products, there are two main options. You can either create barcodes using your own coding system, or sign up with the Universal Product Code system – directly or indirectly- managed by the not-for-profit GS1 organisation.

DIY Barcodes

To generate your own barcodes, you can install a barcode font for your word processor. is one of many options out there. These translate your in-house code into a barcode. You can print that barcode onto labels, your product or packaging.

Barcode Printers

There are specialist printing solutions if you need a cost-effective and robust solution for printing higher volumes of barcodes. Companies such as Shopify offer a wide variety of high-quality printers, but before you fork out money on a barcode printer for your business, you need to ask yourself some pertinent questions, such as:

How Will we Use It?

Barcode printers are nifty inventions, and they can cover a wide range of supporting situations where they would add to the efficiency and the profit level of a business. However, there are some businesses where barcodes are not being utilized to the fullest of their potential. Some companies simply use it as an aid to inventory management, neglecting the way it can aid in the efficiency at checkout. Yet other companies use it for retail check out and avoid using it for tracking information.

Different types of print can be used for different situations. For example, barcodes that don’t need to stay on an object for any great length of time can be applied using direct thermal techniques, since those labels tend to fade with age. Long-lasting labels should be produced with a printer that uses the thermal transfer printing method.

How Often Will we Use it?

If you’re not planning to use the barcode printer very often the best bet would be to buy a printer that prints on demand. This means that whenever a new job is available to the printer, it is sent and printed immediately without having to worry about spooling. In a business that only uses a printer a small number of times for the month, it is ideal because it may cost less than a batch printer and it would be much more efficient in operating costs such as ink and print heads.

Batch barcode printer, by contrast, are designed to be workhorses: printing many labels at a time, enough to outfit an entire warehouse with. The wear and tear on the print head is more, but it is designed for this level of usage and so isn’t prone to breaking down. These types are much better suited for the long haul in terms of huge numbers of barcodes being produced per month.

Scanners and software

There are four main types of barcode scanner: the CCD scanner, the 2D camera scanner, the pen and the laser scanner. Most scanners come with a USB attachment and are simply plug-and-play. One place you can find out more is at the barcode warehouse . Most of the scanners on the market perform reasonably well, and the most popular solution among small businesses is the laser-based scanner.

The scanners simply read the barcodes to identify the code you created. To turn the code into something meaningful, you need software. Many of the accountancy packages designed for small businesses, such as Quickbooks, can process data from a barcode scanner and update your financial records. However, you may want a more sophisticated solution that is primarily designed to track individual stock items. A growing offering of stock management solutions has evolved.

When it comes to barcodes, there is no right option. It depends on your needs – taking into account your future needs.

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