How Retailers Save Time and Improve Service with Bar Coding Technology

Nov 21


Jeff Haefner

Jeff Haefner

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We see it ... Millions of ... are using barcodes and scanners to check out ... and ... Even small stores find that bar coding ... because it speeds up ... t


We see it everyday. Millions of retailers are using bar
codes and scanners to check out customers and enter
inventory. Even small stores find that bar coding is
practical because it speeds up checkout,How Retailers Save Time and Improve Service with Bar Coding Technology Articles tracks stock, and
assures pricing accuracy.

Unfortunately, not everyone uses bar coding technology
properly. And they don't reap as many benefits as they

Utilizing bar codes with your POS software will allow you

- Serve customers faster and improve service by quickly
scanning bar codes at the point of sale (POS) instead of
typing a SKU.

- Reduce pricing and inventory errors. Scanning bar codes at
the POS is much more accurate than typing a SKU. The typical
error rate for human data entry is 1 error per 300
characters. Barcode scanners can be as good as 1 error in 36
trillion characters depending on the type of barcode used.

- Save time and improve efficiency. If all your
merchandise is
bar coded you can save time by checking out customers
faster, instantly implementing mark downs and eliminating
the problem of price tag switching.

- Quickly count your inventory at any time. If you
purchase a
PDT (portable data terminal) you can count and enter your
inventory by scanning each item with a PDT. The PDT will
store your inventory count so you can quickly upload it into
your POS software.

- Reduce costs. If you have UPCs on your merchandise then
don't have to put the price tag on the product itself, which
saves time and reduces handling costs.

- Improve the accuracy of your inventory. One of the biggest
cost savings and benefits is maintaining a more accurate
inventory. Bar coding reduces errors at receiving and at the
point of sale so your inventory stays accurate.


First of all, a bar code is a series of narrow and wide
lines printed on a label or tag. Each bar on the label
represents a character for a "bar code reader" to interpret.

You can scan the bar code with a bar code reader which uses
a photosensor to convert the bar code into an electrical
signal as it moves across the bars. The scanner then
measures the relative widths of the bars and spaces,
translates the different patterns back into regular
characters, and sends them on to a computer or portable

Most bar codes look similar but they can have different
symbologies or standards. The symbology defines the width of
the bars and the technical details of a particular type of

For example, the UPC (Universal Product Code) is seen on
almost all retail products in the USA and Canada. And EAN-13
is a common code used on European retail products. Your bar
code reader and inventory software will need to be setup
properly to read the "symbology" that you use.


You'll need the following items to start using bar coding...

1. POS - Inventory Software that supports bar code scanning
at the point of sale.

2. A bar code scanner that's compatible with your POS

3. Merchandise that's properly labeled with bar code
symbologies that your POS software and scanners can handle.

4. A bar code printer (if all your merchandise comes with
UPC codes you won't need this).


Step 1 - Decide if you need a bar code printer. If ALL of
your products already have UPC codes then you can probably
use those. Otherwise you'll have to buy a "bar code printer"
and create your own bar code labels.

Step 2 - Contact your POS - Inventory Software Vendor to
find out which scanners and bar code printers they support.
You'll need to purchase a bar code scanner and possibly a
bar code printer.

Step 3 - Ask your software vendor how to setup your POS -
Inventory Software to handle your bar code printer and
scanner. Then get your software ready to print labels and
scan items at the point of sale.

Step 4 - Get ALL of your merchandise bar coded and entered
into your POS software. You'll need to use your POS software
to print bar code labels for ALL merchandise that doesn't
have a UPC code. (Once you get everything labeled you can
print and label new merchandise at receiving.)

You'll also need to make sure that the inventory in your POS
software has the appropriate UPC code associated with each
item. Some of your suppliers might be able to provide
"electronic price files" which can be loaded into your POS
software. The price file would include SKUs, prices and UPC
numbers. Otherwise you'll have to manually associate a UPC
number with each inventory item. Again, you'll need to
contact your software vendor to learn how to do this.

Step 5 - Make sure your POS software has accurate pricing
and each inventory item has bar coding configured.

Step 6 - Now all you have to do is scan items at the
register instead of entering the SKU. The SKU and price
should get entered into the POS system automatically.

If used properly, bar coding technology can help you check
out customers 20% to 50% faster and lower error rates by
almost 4%. Not only does this dramatically improve your
customer service but it saves time and lowers your overhead.

If you need help getting started with bar coding, it's best
to contact your POS - inventory software provider.