Barcode 101: 6 Ways To Use Barcodes To Boost Profits and Be More Productive

Barcodes are everywhere – from the detergent you buy in a store, to the books you check out from a library, and even your driver’s license (check the back). Although we’re accustomed to seeing barcodes on a daily basis, most of us don’t give much thought to how these striped graphics work, or how they can help our businesses run more efficiently. In this guest post from Wasp Barcode Technologies, we learn a little about barcodes and what they can do for a small business.

A barcode simply represents a series of alphanumeric digits. Let’s say you’re standing in line at the grocery store with your bottle of detergent. When the clerk uses a barcode scanner to read the barcode on your detergent, the barcode pulls up an entry in the store’s database with information like price and description. Using a barcode scanner keeps the clerk from having to type in item numbers manually, which is time-consuming and can leave room for error. A barcode scanner enters data just like a keyboard would. It can be used to add barcode data to point-of-sale software in your grocery store, or to other software, documents, and spreadsheets. Check out Wasp Barcode’s video explanation of barcodes.

Now that you know the basics of how a barcode works, here are six ways your business can use barcodes to save time and money.

1.     Use barcodes to track your inventory. Using barcodes to track your business’ inventory can help you stay on top of where items are located and how many items are in stock. A basic inventory tracking system consists of software and a barcode scanner or mobile computer. All Inventory items will have barcode labels, so when you remove an item from stock, you just scan the barcode to reduce the available count in your inventory tracking software, instead of having to type in a SKU (or even worse, track it in a spreadsheet).

2.     Add barcode tags to your assets. Any business, no matter how large or small, has IT assets and fixed assets. That includes items like PCs, laptops, projectors, software, and tools. To save time, consider implementing a basic asset tracking system, including software and a barcode scanner or mobile computer. Barcoded asset tags are attached to each asset, and can be scanned to check items in or out in your asset tracking software. It’s a great way to improve accountability and makes audits much easier.

3.     Create a shadow book for your retail store. Small items like screws or nails, or perishable groceries like fruit and vegetables, aren’t built for barcode labels. So to keep your checkout line moving lightning fast, try a shadow book or barcode scan sheet. It’s just a line listing of items and corresponding barcodes – so when someone brings a Washington apple to the cash register, you can look it up on your scan sheet, and just scan the barcode to ring it up.

4.     Use barcodes in return mail. Does your organization sell products that require registration? Add a barcode to the return-mail registration postcard that matches the product’s serial number, and then you can instantly track which serial numbers are registered, and which aren’t. Plus, your customers won’t have to locate and transcribe a lengthy serial number.

5.     Include barcodes in a mail merge. If your company is hosting an event, you can add barcodes to an RSVP card so you can track who has responded – without trying to translate anyone’s handwriting.

6.     Add barcodes to invoices. Sending out invoices to your customers? Add a barcode that represents the customer number or the individual invoice number so when it’s returned with payment, you can easily locate the customer account or invoice number. This will prevent problems like applying payments to the incorrect customer account or invoice.

Wasp Barcode Technologies provides data capture and tracking solutions designed specifically for small business. Products include: inventory controlasset trackingtime and attendancebarcode scannersbarcode printers, and point of sale (POS) solutions. Wasp products help small business owners manage their companies more efficiently with improved productivity and profitability.

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Allison Midori Reilly is the CEO and Founder of Stirring Media, LLC. Stirring Media, LLC is a content marketing and news production firm that provides content marketing and business blogging services to the small business market. Prior to that, she was a freelance writer, who was published in over a dozen print and online publications, such as Smallbiztechnology.com, American City & County, Ideabing.com, Transport Topics and St. Louis Commerce Magazine. In her spare time, Reilly is an active member of Amnesty International as well as an avid poker player.

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