Barcode printers and scanners are becoming an increasingly popular solution for small businesses looking for ways to streamline multiple business activities. They offer a number of benefits, including organized tracking of inventory and sales. Barcodes can do a lot for your business, but there are some things that they cannot do. If you are considering adding a barcode system to your business, it is important to research the device and fully understand its capabilities and its limitations. Before making the financial investment, you need to know that it will meet your business needs. Here are five common misconceptions about barcodes.
1. Barcodes Can Store an Incredible Amount of Product Information.
The idea is that when a business adds barcodes to its products, those barcodes can include every bit of data that you might need on a specific product. In fact, the barcodes store almost no information at all on their own. A barcode is a visual representation of a binary code number. The only thing it includes is that reference number. The additional information must be stored in a business’s computer database. Upon scanning a barcode, the computer references the information associated with the number in the database. This can be incredibly handy for storing information, but the information must be created in the first place.
2. Barcodes Must Contain All Necessary Information.
Like the fact that the barcode is holding the information, it is not really true that a barcode needs to include all information. A standard barcode is a nine or 13-digit number. A longer one can include additional information on a product, but those numbers are more difficult to read with a simple laser barcode scanner. These longer numbers are more often used by shipping companies for tracking purposes. In a retail setting, the shorter barcode is more practical. It can be associated with a database of information that is available when the product is scanned. However, there is such a thing as too much detail. Some details need only to be available in a product manual.
3. Barcodes are Universally the Same.
There is a universal barcode system that is used globally called a UPC. These code numbers are created by an organization named GS1. This non-profit created barcode numbers for products to create a global method for sharing data. A business must purchase these UPC code numbers to be able to use them, which is quite cost-prohibitive for small businesses. For internal use, creating your own barcode system is much more practical and cost-effective. The only need for acquiring UPC barcodes is when your products are sold through a third-party merchant that requires them, such as Amazon. For most businesses, barcodes are only needed to keep track of inventory and sales within the business.
4. Barcode Systems are Difficult to Use.
Many business owners, upon discovering that a barcode contains no specific information itself, assume that the process of setting everything up is too difficult to be worthwhile. Although there is some setup required, using barcodes is not complicated. First, a database of products must be created. This database can include categories for the manufacturer, point of origin, product details, measurements, and price. If your business sells online through an e-commerce store, it can also include shipping rates and other details. All of this information can be associated with the identification number in the barcode. When it is scanned, the information that has been entered will be pulled up within seconds.
5. Adding Barcodes is Too Expensive.
Traditionally, barcodes have been the domain of big businesses that operate nationally or globally. They have the resources to print and maintain thousands of barcodes using expensive hardware, but for small businesses this is too impractical. Although this has been true in the past, new barcode technology has made the system affordable for businesses of all sizes. Now a barcode scanner can be picked up at most business or office supply stores for under $100. Your business needs only a printer, scanner, and program for connecting the barcodes to a database. Most businesses already operate a database for product sales anyway, so this is only a single step further. An entire setup from Shopify is under $1000 and includes everything one could possibly need.
For most businesses, any big change is going to come with some hesitation and even a little resistance. However, change is the only way to grow and when your business grows, so do your profits. Adding a barcode system now can benefit your business in the long run. You will already be ready if business suddenly takes off. In the meanwhile, your business will be much more organized, efficient, and professional looking to customers. The addition of barcode can take your business from a mom-and-pop shop to a competitive marketplace participant.