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Barcode: The Everyday Use And Potential In Retail

They are now taken for granted, but barcodes are a system with often unexplored potential. When combined with a good management program, they can significantly improve the organization and efficiency. The barcode is everywhere. Indeed the sequence of signs and symbols, variously arranged, is now a universal sign, present on (almost) everything around us. A provocation, of course, which, however, captures the final purpose of a barcode. That is to identify a product to better catalog and manage it uniquely. 

To put it in English, the barcode method is a reliable and recognized way to attach salient data to any product. In the retail world, barcodes are massive, mandatory in many cases but not always fully understood. With the evolution of technology, a modern barcode can be a valuable archive of information. In combination with a good management program, it simplifies sales activities and many back-office operations.

What Are Barcodes For

In a nutshell, the primary function of a barcode is to identify an object. The generated sequence is specific to that object or the series. In short, the barcode represents its DNA and allows it to be recognized when it is stored, exchanged, sold. Since the first patent of the system by Woodland and Silver in 1952, the evolution has been continuous, and so has the proliferation of standards. To use a barcode, at least two conditions must be met:

  1. that it is possible to read its contents;
  2. that it is possible to interpret it according to shared rules and principles.

Over time, different classification systems and standards have been developed. For all transactions, however, reference is made to universally recognized systems. Coding technology has indeed evolved a lot over the years. With the sequence of black bars and white spaces with or without a control code, the traditional one-dimensional code has become more complex.

Standards such as GS1 Data bar or GS1 Data Matrix now make it possible to compress more information into a small space. Then, the two-dimensional barcodes represent a real leap in a category in the world of barcodes. These new codes, including the famous QR Code, make it possible to store much more data, evident in many retail products.

Where Are Barcodes Required, And Which Ones To Use

At state of the art, therefore, by bar code, we mean objects, systems, and symbols that are also very different. And yet, such a form of identification is required in almost all economic sectors. But when is it mandatory to label products with their code? In principle, all operators who sell to large-scale distribution must use this cataloging system. There is no absolute obligation to catalog via barcode for those who have their own retail sales channels. 

On the other hand, their codes make various management operations much more accessible, even for individual stores. Labeling items with their barcode sequence is not very difficult. However, it is necessary, at least, to ask the bodies responsible for the series to be used. For example, to use the GS1 standard, also accepted by the leading marketplaces for online sales. Once the codes have been received, tools capable of managing them and assigning them to the products in the warehouse and at the point of purchase will be needed.

How To Read The Barcode

Once the products have been identified and cataloged with a series of unique barcodes, it is necessary to read the data. Individual readers are used to deciphering the barcode in the warehouse and the shop. The system allows you to centralize the data on each item, ensuring maximum speed of access to information on price, stock availability, variants, and so on. The primary reading tool used is the wifi handheld. Especially in the inventory phase, it allows you to scan the products on the shelf and check stocks quickly. 

Moreover, the same operations can also be carried out via smartphone. In this sense, various management software has dedicated apps for barcode scanning functions, which are very useful. For optimal management of barcodes, you need suitable programs. This is done in the creation and assignment phase and later in the actual reading and use phase. An excellent retail management program can also serve to optimize these aspects of the business.

The Potential Of Barcodes For Trade

Having a product catalog organized by barcode offers many advantages to those who own commercial activity. This is both for those who manage a single point of sale and, even more so, for those who have to organize a chain of stores. A barcode label system allows you to:

  1. Speed ​​up warehouse operations. Article handling activities improve, as do the functions of inserting new articles and inventory;
  2. Always have up-to-date data on stocks and quantities. Thanks to barcodes, information on availability, prices, product variants, and more are just a scan away;
  3. Check in-store product information in real-time. For those who work in retail, scanning the barcode allows you to immediately check the information on a given item without having to go to the checkout;
  4. Streamline checkout procedures. The use of “proprietary” barcodes also improves the management of the cashpoint: faster scans from the cash registers and reduction of identification errors.

Even for the buyer, the presence of a barcode can represent a significant added value. This is especially the case for new generation codes such as QRs. These can archive and detail the product in question: origin, processing methods, raw materials used, and much more.

How Retail Management Software Can Make Things Better

To sum up: a barcode marking system offers a company advantages in internal management and customer relationships. However, both the right know-how and an adequate management program are required to exploit them correctly. Specific retail management software can offer various practical benefits in cataloging operations. Among the main ones: speed of access to data, automation of processes, contextual use.

Label data becomes better accessible in two ways.

  1. On the one hand, the information contained in the code is read faster: perhaps using the apps connected to the management software to scan directly from the smartphone.
  2. On the other hand, it becomes easier to create labels and assign barcodes when loading new products.

Automation of operations is another significant benefit. In this sense, many management software can associate barcodes with items directly from supplier lists. Entrusting a (good) part of these activities to a program generally involves a drastic reduction in cataloging errors. Lastly, a no less critical benefit concerns the contextual use of the barcodes in each label code. For example, to obtain sales data more quickly by checking stocks and calculating sales based on article codes. 

Or by “hooking” other important information to the barcode, such as its location in the warehouse, to speed up its handling. Combining an excellent retail management system with an intelligent barcode cataloging system is a perfect way to combine the advantages of both elements. A leaner organization, the automation of many operations, timely tracking of goods and movements, a more effective and satisfying relationship with customers for both parties.

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