In-depth Understanding of how does Barcodes Work

In-depth Understanding of how does Barcodes Work

We have all spotted barcodes on almost every commodity in today’s world, starting from clothing tags to packaged foods, books, healthcare, mail, and more. Primarily found in mass-manufactured products, their applications span across different industries. Barcodes facilitate fast and error-free transactions and are hence, an integral component of a point of sale (POS) setup.

The right barcode system allows you to print and scan any barcode for adequate inventory management and sales tracking. It enhances operational efficiency because of its efficiency and speed.

This blog discusses barcodes in detail for you to understand their importance, especially in the retail business world.

What is a Barcode?

Barcodes are images comprising a series of parallel black and white lines that can be scanned, read, and decoded using a barcode scanner. Applied to commodities for quick identification, barcodes are mostly used in retail stores to facilitate the purchasing process, in warehouses to track and manage inventory, and on invoices for accounting purposes.

To scan these barcodes, a robust device, known as a barcode scanner is used. The barcode scanners capture and decode the information embedded within the barcodes. Conventional barcode scanners come with:

  • A light source that helps read barcodes and decodes the information fed in it.
  • A lens that helps in scanning the barcode.
  • A photoconductor that translated optical impulses to electrical impulses.
  • A decoder analyses the data from the barcode and transmits it to the scanner’s output port.

Once the information from the barcodes is captured, the barcode scanners transmit the data to the linked computer or device in real-time, without human intervention. This facilitates data collection processes and minimises human errors like inventory tracking and processing point of sale (POS) transactions.

How do Barcodes Work?

Barcodes and barcode scanners comprise a series of black and white lines representing a number. Once the product arrives at a retail store, the barcode is scanned and the data is fed into the system. Then, the price for the product is matched with its code. When a product is purchased at the counter, the laser reads the code and the price is added to the receipt.

Types of Barcodes

There are two types of barcodes:

1. Linear One-dimensional (1D) Barcodes: One-dimensional (1D) barcodes comprise a series of black and white bars that are designed to store information like product type, size, and colour. These include some common barcode types like the UPC and EAN codes and are often referred to as linear barcodes. The length of a one-dimensional barcode is related to the quantity of information it holds and users must limit the number of characters from 8 to 15. One-dimensional barcodes are usually used across enterprise operations for time-saving and efficient inventory workflows.
2.Matrix Two-dimensional (2D) Barcodes: Two-dimensional (2D) barcodes include information like text, price, inventory levels, and product images. There are several barcode scanners that support two-dimensional (2D) barcodes. Usually, a two-dimensional (2D) barcode scanner is square or rectangular in shape and stores information both horizontally and vertically. Other than these lines of varying widths, two-dimensional (2D) barcodes form patterns in the shapes of dots, squares, and hexagons. A QR code is a common example of a two-dimensional (2D) barcode. These barcodes are capable of storing about 4000 and 7000 characters in a small and compact scanning size. Despite minor damages to the barcode, the two-dimensional (2D) barcodes offer a 100% readability rate. You can scan these barcodes from any direction and can be scanned using smartphone cameras too.

Advantages of Barcodes

1. Minimise Human Error: Data transfer requires precision, especially while tracking packages, inventory, or ticketing. Entering data manually is time-consuming, labour-intensive and prone to human errors. Data transfer using barcodes is an efficient and automatic means rather than manual. It helps eliminate the scope of human error and typographical mistakes. Barcode scanners are capable of accurately decoding any barcode, connecting it with the previously stored data, and eliminating the scope of errors.
2. Quick Data Transfer: Other than enhancing the accuracy of data transfer, barcodes increase operational speed exponentially. If your business requires recording large amounts of data, barcodes are an excellent means of enhancing speed. Barcode scanners can decode information in seconds. This is extremely beneficial in retail checkout counters where the wait time for customer checkout gets minimised, promoting more sales.
3. Inventory Management: If you are in the business of selling products, you would require an efficient inventory tracking system that would track the flow of goods at your store. Your supplies and sales need to be tallied to maintain the precise amount of stock available with you and restock the products that are selling fast and are running out of stock. Not only are barcode scanners excellent for inventory management and tracking, but they are also an excellent solution to track and manage inventory if you own multiple stores at multiple locations.
4. Analytics: For smarter and data-oriented decision-making, businesses need to focus on sales analytics. Barcodes cannot just identify the products that sell the most; it also tracks sales frequency and the items that are selling the least. This would help you forecast sales and modify your future supply orders by restocking the bestselling products and removing the least-selling ones. By doing so, you can minimise wastage and save money and effort which would help you adapt your business as per customer preferences and demand.
5. Customisation: Depending on your business needs, barcodes can be customised fully. You can store any information in your database and code them into specific barcodes. Since the barcode database is flexible, their corresponding data can be edited, providing you with enhanced flexibility that would allow you to use the barcodes for different purposes like asset tracking, shipping, inventory management, and product management across multiple locations.

Where are Barcodes Applied?

Since barcodes are flexible and customisable, you can use them across different industries for commercial, industrial, and governmental use.

Some of the key applications of barcodes include:

1. Manufacturing: If you are in the product manufacturing business, barcodes are going to be an essential solution for dealing with large volume and bulk products. You can track the items created, expiry dates, shipping locations, batch numbers, and other such details. In case you face any issue with any sold commodity, you can trace them back to the source using barcodes.
2. Grocery and Retail: Barcodes are predominantly used in retail and grocery businesses where every product is labelled using a barcode. You can customise these barcodes as per the niche. At the same time, barcodes expedite the checkout process with the help of barcode scanners, an essential point of sale (POS) hardware component. It also helps with inventory tracking, management, and analysing of sales.
3. Ticketing: Barcodes are used for tickets for movies, events, travel, and more. They expedite the entry process and help track visitor details. Also, barcodes on tickets help determine the customer’s purchasing preferences, allowing event organisers to enhance their offerings.
4. Documentation and Identification: Nowadays, barcodes are used on forms, for personal identification, and for patient identification by healthcare providers. These barcodes on forms, purchase history, admissions, treatments, and other documents help organise data when there are a large number of people involved.
5. Transportation and Logistics: Barcodes are used extensively in shipping, transportation, and logistics of goods; they aid in accurate shipment tracking throughout the transportation process and are especially helpful when products move a lot through warehouses and transportation means. Using barcodes you can track each product and protect them from getting lost in transition or prevent delivery delays.

How to Create Barcodes?

To create barcodes, you would require,

1. Barcode Generator: Even though the commodities you sell come with barcodes, their capacity to store data and their durability are uncertain. By generating your own barcodes, you would be able to not just choose the level of complexity but the amount of data storage you would want to support. Even though barcodes can be complex without a scanner, they are easy to generate. There are different free tools available online that help generate barcodes. You can also avail any paid and dedicated barcode-generating software in case you want to use a single program for both barcode generation and storing database. Usually, most retail point of sale (POS) software provides the convenience to generate barcodes. Using a barcode generator tool you can customise barcodes specifically for your business and you can choose the type as per your requirement (1D barcodes, 2D barcodes, or QR codes). To create barcodes, all you need is the product’s SKU and the categories you would want the barcodes to recognise. Standardising barcodes to allow other resellers to use them involves registration, an initial fee, and an annual renewal fee, which is an expensive process.
2. Barcode Printer: Once you have generated your barcode, you would have to print it on a self-adhesive paper that you can attach to any desired product. Outsourcing the printing process to some other printing company is a time-taking and expensive process. Rather, owning an in-house printing system is a flexible, time and cost-saving option. All you need is a printer that offers high-resolution printing. Barcode label printers, for example, Bollon Label Printers, Brother Label Printers, Citizen Label Printers, and the like, are designed exclusively to print barcodes on self-adhesive label rolls. These devices function on thermal printing technology, are cost-effective, produce high-resolution prints, and offer consistent performance. There are two types of label printers- direct thermal label printers and thermal transfer label printers. These devices are designed not just to print barcodes but an array of labels, descriptions, warnings, and more.

Wrapping Up,

If you are in a retail business wherein you manufacture your own products, you would require barcodes to label your products. For effective labelling, you would require not just a barcode generator but a robust label printer.

POS Plaza is your one-stop shop for all point of sale (POS) needs. Starting from TSC DA210 Direct Thermal 4 ” USB Label Printer to TSC TE210 USB Serial Ethernet USB Label Printer, Bollon (Samsung) SLP-DX420 Direct Thermal 4” Label Printer are some of the bestselling barcode label printers in Australia.

If you are looking to buy the best barcode label printer online in Australia, POS Plaza is the answer to your search.

POS Plaza is Australia’s one-stop destination for quality point of sale (POS) hardware , consumables, and accessories, all available at competitive prices. Browse through our range of products and purchase the perfect device as per your business needs and budget or contact us for a personalised shopping experience.