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How To Implement A Barcode System For Inventory?

Posted: August 22, 2019 by Ly Phan

How To Implement A Barcode System For Inventory?

Businesses of all types strive for automation of processes, which leads to efficiency and increased productivity. One of the many ways inventory management software provides this capability for warehouses is using a barcode-based system. As many of our clients ask how to implement a barcode system for inventory, we’ve put together a post that helps to answer this key question.


How Barcode Systems Work

Barcodes have been a familiar sight in stores since the 1970s when it first appeared on a pack of Wrigley’s chewing gum. In the retail world, the linear code is underlined by a 12-digit universal product code number which can be broken down into three parts:

  1. First six digits: Represents the manufacturers’ identification number
  2. Following five digits: Is the item number
  3. The last digit: Enables the scanner to check whether the item has been scanned correctly


Such a system enables manufacturers and retailers to track products as it goes through the supply chain, but not much else. For other businesses such as warehouses and distribution centers, the complex 2D barcode can handle more information, including: 

  1. Quantity
  2. Orders
  3. Inventory Status
  4. Receipts
  5. Cycle Counts

When used with compatible scanners, such as those provided by SmartTurn, it enables workers to access vital information quickly and on the move. The interface allows users to make the relevant changes and carry out processes remotely. The flexibility of the cloud-based model means companies can save time and run more efficiently with real-time visibility. 


Benefits of Barcode Technology

As we’ve seen, barcode technology has evolved with the digital age to hold more information than ever before. But how does it benefit warehouses and businesses which deal with inventory?



One of the main differences between traditional, paper-based systems and cloud-based solutions is the level of accuracy. By reducing the capacity for human error, inventory management software is able to deliver accurate information and data in real-time.

The advantage of using scanners provided by SmartTurn’s partners is that workers will be able to instantly identify inventory, assess their status, and put it in the right place. Some of our own clients have reported accuracy climbing to 99%+ within weeks of using SmartTurn’s inventory management system. This tangible and significant reduction of errors leads to improved customer service and higher profit margins.



The old adage of “time is money” rings true in the world of logistics. A common misconception of many warehouses is to view them as storage areas, yet the more prolonged the inventory stays on the shelves, the more it costs the business. Therefore, it’s more accurate to see warehouses as processing centers and as an integral part of the supply chain.

In a world where every second count, barcode technology can be used to save time at multiple points during the process. For example, instead of reading and checking each product during the pick and pack process, workers can quickly scan items before packing. 

This kind of “marginal gains” approach leads to companies saving thousands of hours in processing time, which enables efficient use of resources and room for growth.


Return On Investment

Barcode technology is becoming increasingly affordable and accessible. However, implementation and integration with inventory management systems can potentially drain resources and prove to be a complex process. At SmartTurn, we offer full support to any third-party barcode technology provider, reducing the complexities of integration. The ease of use means little training is required, and workers can assimilate quickly. 

In return for this limited initial outlay, companies can generate several thousand dollars of additional revenue, whether it’s through reduced costs or taking advantage of new opportunities.

Though not entirely attributed to barcode technology, Kentucky-based Global Environmental Services was able to generate $45,000 extra cash-flow a year, through efficiencies generated by SmartTrun’s inventory management software. 


Greater Inventory Control

For warehouses, distribution centers and any business that needs to deal with high levels of inventory, retaining total control is one of its primary objectives. Barcodes can play a critical role in achieving this goal by streamlining the processes involved in handling inventory.

The information from barcodes can be fed into a central, customized and easily navigable dashboard through the use of scanners. The workers on the warehouse floor can also access this dashboard using remote devices, quickly and efficiently getting the details they need to do their jobs.

From the moment it enters the supply chain, a simple barcode can help warehouse managers keep track of the inventory to the end-user. This level of control would have been out of reach for many businesses in the past, but due to advances in technology and increasing affordability of such solutions, it is an attainable objective today.

The best inventory control software providers will offer barcode systems as part of its package. 


How to Set Up a Barcode System for Inventory Control

Barcode system is crucial for inventory management

In order to maximize the potential of barcode technology, it’s critical to lay a strong foundation for such a system to work from. Here’s what you need to do:

Create a Master List: There’s no shortcut here. It’s essential to put together a master list of products and all other inventory you handle. Ask your suppliers to provide you with a basic list and add the key information. For instance:

  1. Purchase cost
  2. Vendor
  3. Minimum stock level
  4. Category
  5. Destination
  6. Label names

Get the Right Equipment: Once you have the list populated and ready to go, you will need to consider the equipment. This can include scanners, stickers, and printers. Get all the kit you need in one goes, so you can hit the ground running.

Organize the Warehouse Layout: Label shelf with a codename, such as SHELF1, SHELF2 and stick barcodes on the relevant spots. Much like the master list, getting the layout right is integral to the success of a barcode system.

Train Your Staff: Though barcode systems are easy to use, individuals will have their own ideas and ways of using it. Training your staff together and putting standard operating procedures in place will avoid any unnecessary confusion and waste.

The key is to take a holistic approach with barcode systems and understand it needs to integrate with the wider supply chain.


Zap Your Way to Effortless Inventory Management

The beauty of barcode systems is in its ease of use and efficiency. Once you do the hard work of laying the foundations, the system will save you time and resources, while improving your inventory control at the same time. 


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