Barcoding Inventory Systems
- 17 March 2021
- Faheema Granville
If you are running a small or medium business, you are already well-aware of the challenges that come with managing inventory, assets, and stock of products. If you are doing it manually, using pen and paper or excel sheets, you are undoubtedly spending a lot of time in the process.
Barcodes have been a popular choice for inventory control and management because they speed up the supply chain, provide error-free results, and help reduce costs. Their standardization has paved the way for their adoption in businesses of all shapes and kinds.
In this article, we will dive deeper into:
- Why is inventory and stock management vital?
- How can barcodes help in inventory management?
- The benefits of using a barcode-based inventory management system
- How to set up a barcode printer and scanner in New Zealand
Why is stock and inventory management important?
Efficient management of stock, assets, and inventory is the foundation of a successful retail store. Keeping track of each item that goes through your supply chain is indispensable for day-to-day business operations and helps you plan the future better.
No matter whether you have a small retail shop or a huge departmental store, quantifying the inventory and stock accurately, and tracking its movement, helps you know where and how much of a particular product you have.
An efficiently-organized inventory streamlines the entire supply-chain management and helps you run your business better. Proper warehousing and stock management help reduce margins of error and also saves previous human resources.
There is a very real and tangible cost to poorly managed inventory, and in addition to financial losses, your reputation as a business can also be negatively impacted.
Thus, inventory management systems are the backbone of any successful business, particularly retail businesses. Note that an inventory management system is much larger than one device or printed labels; it runs through the entire course of your business. It doesn’t exist in isolation and is integrated with several other business operations, like, point of sales and shipping.
Signs your business needs a better inventory management system
Despite the tremendous value of an inventory management system, it is estimated that more than four out of ten small businesses do not have any such process or system in place. As small businesses grow, they often struggle to scale up their operations to meet increasing demand and shy away from investing in strengthening their core business operations.
But the fact is that you can manually manage your inventory only up to a certain level, beyond which it may be detrimental to your business. Here are some telltale signs that you need to start looking for a smart and modern inventory management system for your business:
Increased order errors: Have you been sending the wrong orders frequently to customers? Or have you received many complaints regarding non-delivery or delivery to the wrong address? If you can trace back these errors to lack of oversight during ordering and shipping, maybe your business has outgrown manual processes.
Over or under-stocking: Have you turned away customers because you ran out of a popular product? Or have you placed more orders for products that have been selling poorly? Mistakes regarding stocking are one of the surest predictors of investing in robust inventory management software.
Decreased customer satisfaction: If your current business processes have prevented you or your team from providing top-notch service to existing customers, you are also likely to witness slowing of sales and loss of customer loyalty. At the heart of these issues are usually challenges in inventory fulfillment.
How to put a stock and inventory management system in place?
There are some basic inventory management techniques that you must know before you set out to implement them. These include being aware of the EOQ (economic order quantity) and MOQ (minimum order quantity) formulas and being well-versed with batch tracking, six sigma, cross-docking, and bulk shipments.
But as far as making a change in your business goes, the most significant improvement you can do is set up a smart and comprehensive barcode inventory management system that helps you organize and control your stock. A majority of small and medium retail businesses opt for a scannable barcode-based system that keeps track of product from arrival, warehousing, customer order placement, shipping, and delivery.
How does a barcode inventory system work?
Barcodes are visual representations of data and information. They are made using lines and spaces, and the information they hold is readable by scanning devices. They have been widely used in several industries, like manufacturing, auto, and retail, since the 1970s.
Broadly, there are two types of barcodes; one-dimensional barcodes are coded using parallel lines of varying width with spaces, and two-dimensional barcodes (or QR codes) consist of smaller pixels or dots. Read more about the differences between QR codes and barcodes .
In a barcode-based inventory management system, barcode labels are attached with each product item, and their movement to the warehouse, store, and order can be tracked using barcode scanners and other devices. Upon scanning, the information about the product is synchronized with the software that connects different pieces of hardware.
Here is the step-wise process and flow of using barcodes in your inventory management system:
- The order arrives at your store or warehouse
- Product item and details are input in the inventory management software or uploaded automatically using plug-ins and tools
- Barcodes are generated, printed, and affixed to each product
- Whenever moved, the barcode is simply scanned to update the numbers in the system
- Upon receiving an order or making an in-house sale, the product is scanned and removed from the system logs
- The item is sold to the customer or shipped, and the barcode is scanned for the last time upon delivery
Barcode inventory and stock management systems help you conduct inventory counts, manage the receipt of merchandise, simplify customer order management, and keep track of warehouse transfers. What’s more, with better insights on which products are selling more, you can make data-driven business decisions to maximize profits and margins. If used creatively, barcodes and QR codes can be used to improve customer engagement as well.
At Barcode Products, we have industry experts that help businesses in New Zealand select, configure, and install the best barcode management system. Get in touch with us today!
Benefits of using barcode systems for stock management
Although there are many benefits of a barcode stock management system, here are some of the most prominent business advantages they offer:
- Ease of use: Managing a barcode system setup is child’s play, and even business owners who have no experience with technology can do it with ease. The technology has been around for decades, and there is simply no comparison to other manual processes (like maintaining excel sheets for products and orders). Additionally, the entire setup of the barcode scanner, printer, monitor, and software is easily available.
- Improved efficiency and reduced errors: Naturally, by automating big swathes of the process, you will experience higher efficiency and lower error margins. Statistically, humans make one error in each 100 data entry task, whereas a barcode scanner makes one error for every 10,000 scans. So, no more misplaced orders or overstocking an unpopular product.
- Saves cost and human resources: There is more than one way in which barcode inventory management helps reduce costs. One is the more direct impact by improving the proficiency of business processes. The other is in terms of human capital that can now focus on serving customers with more attention. On average, the investment made in a barcode scanning system pays itself back in six months and starts showing results to the bottom-line within three to four months.
- Easy tracking and enhanced security: In businesses where the stakes are higher, like that in the healthcare and pharmaceutical industry, barcodes can be used to enhance the security and traceability of barcodes to prevent theft and misuse. Barcodes can also be used to speed up auditing, regulatory, and compliance-related processes.
So, don’t wait for your business to start suffering before you implement a smart barcode inventory management system. With the right tools and devices, you can take your business to new heights. Explore branded barcode scanners and printers at affordable prices here.
How to set up a barcode system
To launch a functional barcode inventory management system, you essentially need the following components:
- A barcode generator and barcode label printer, labels
- Barcode scanners
- A barcode management software
Start with creating a master-list of all your product items that need to be input into the system. This list should contain all essential information like the price, vendor information, batch number, manufacturer, order date, etc. Some software systems also enable importing this information from existing databases.
Next, using an online barcode generator, create unique barcodes for each item. A barcode printer can be used to print and label all items. Your software will act as the interface between the scanner, database, and other hardware. Most barcode systems allow remote access, which means you can manage your inventory, place order, or ship items even without being present at your store.
Things to keep in mind while purchasing a barcode management system
Primary objective: In addition to helping you keep a tab on your inventory, most barcode inventory management systems also offer added features like integration with shipping, POS, security against theft, and auditing. Depending on your intended goals, ensure that your choice of equipment and software is equipped with the desired functions before making the purchase.
Compatibility: If you are purchasing hardware and software from different vendors, be sure to check their compatibility. Most businesses use components of the same company to create a seamless ecosystem and easier maintenance.
Flexibility: Do you need portable scanners and devices, or will fixed-flatbed scanners do? Is there a need for wireless scanning at your business? Are there self-checkout counters that need to be equipped with barcode scanners as well? Be sure to answer all these questions before finalizing your purchase to ensure that your barcode inventory management system gives you the maximum flexibility.
Customize: At the end of the day, the entire barcode system is what you make of it. You can customize the labels, codes, and information as per your business requirements to simplify your operations. Of course, there are globally-acceptable codes in use, but you need not worry about them for internal purposes.
Reputation: Be sure to go for brands that are widely used in your industry, and offer reliable support services. Check for accuracy, speed, and ease of scanning as well.
Using barcodes for inventory management: The last word
Barcodes are an integral part of stock and inventory management in many industries. Their ease of use and relatively low setup cost have made them the number one choice for small businesses. With minimal effort, you can also improve your business operations drastically. A comprehensive barcode inventory management system will increase your profits, support workforce management, and take your business to the next level.
Get in touch with Barcode Products for a free consultation on the best barcode system for your business in New Zealand! Plus, you get access to best practices, recommendations, and full support during setup!