Every trip to a store – whether it be for groceries, clothing or something else – comes with an opportunity to find new products. However, one thing that isn’t new to the shopping experience is the use of barcodes.
Virtually every product sold in stores comes with one or more barcodes attached to it. Many are printed onto products by manufacturers, while stores may add their own unique barcodes to use upon checkout.
Given how ubiquitous barcodes are in retail, exactly how and why did their use develop? Let’s take a glance at the reasons behind the prevalence of barcodes in the shopping experience.
A Global Standard for Retail Barcodes
It may surprise you, but most retailers worldwide use one standard system for barcode generation and scanning. Known as UPC (Universal Product Code), this system lets manufacturers and retailers across continents work in unison and minimizes the amount of effort and work that companies must conduct to ensure proper inventory management and transactions for each customer.
Given the universal nature of UPC, any brand or business can generate a UPC barcode. Through the use of an online barcode generator, any information can be encoded into an easy-to-print barcode in seconds. This same broader process is what manufacturers and retailers alike use to ensure their products are properly scanned, sorted and organized.
Barcodes Make Inventory Tracking Easier
Inventory management can be a huge process for many retailers. Some brands have entire departments dedicated to the concept of loss prevention, which handles issues of waste, theft and misplacement.
Barcodes help make tracking inventory much easier, as systems integrated within retailers allow for inventories to be adjusted in real-time as each unit of a product is sold. Likewise, scanning individual items in upon delivery to replenish inventory counts is substantially easier than counting each item by hand and writing down inventory levels.
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Barcodes Make Selling Products Easier
In the old days, cashiers had to manually enter product numbers for each item purchased. This created a lot of wasted time and could lead to long lines during particularly busy hours.
However, barcodes allow for quick and easy scanning. Retailers can check out more customers with more products in the same amount of time, making it possible for larger retailers to be more efficient and cost-effective in terms of labor.
Barcodes Store More Information
It’s also important to note that with new, more complex varieties of barcodes emerging, lots of information can be stored about individual products within each barcode. Rather than leaving potentially sensitive information about products or businesses publicly visible, barcodes can keep this information private from anybody without a barcode scanner.
Especially with newer QR barcode formats, everything – from product weight and dimensions to date of manufacture and color – can be stored in an easy-to-scan code that takes up a fraction of the space of listing these specifications traditionally. This efficiency can be very valuable to retailers and manufacturers who want to save more space on product packaging for marketing and aesthetic purposes.
There are plenty of unique reasons for retail businesses to embrace the barcode system, and almost every single one of them has done so. Whether it be to store more information, track inventory, or a completely different reason, barcodes simply make retail sales a more efficient process.