Barcodes have become the universal language for sales. Items for sale are assigned a unique barcode specific to its brand, make and variety. This makes it easy for sales processing and inventory.
Think of barcodes as license plates, each item is assigned a unique barcode that details all the important information pertaining to the product.
A barcode scanner, on the other hand, is the essential tool that reads and translates the barcode into readable text and feeds it directly to the monitor or computer. Barcodes and scanners work hand in hand. One cannot function without the other.
There are many types of barcodes and barcode scanners today. Which begs the question: Can you scan a different store’s barcodes with your barcode scanner?
Well, it is not as simple as it sounds. The answer is yes and no. Let me explain.
EAN or UPC
European Article Number (EAN) or Universal Product Code (UPC) are barcodes that are used for mass-produced products like Coca Cola products, Lays, or Kellogs.
Items like these can be scanned in any store and you will get the same data anywhere. Think of any international or national products that are popular to the masses, these items can be scanned by any type of barcode scanners and the information that will be shown will be consistent in any store.
While most stores carry universal products, most also carry their own items. Groceries, for example, sell their own meat and dairy products.
These products are assigned barcodes that can only be scanned and read in-store. While the barcode can be scanned in another store, the information that will show will most likely not to be accurate.
Most items that are packaged in-store are the following:
- Freshly cut meat
- Deli products
- Fresh dairy products
- Baked goods
- Vegetables and many others.
There is a standard symbology scheme used in barcodes for encoding data into varying widths in the bars used. So most off the shelf barcode scanners are able to read and decode standard barcodes.
For in-store barcodes, any standard barcode scanner will be able to read and translate part of the code into readable texts, the rest is incorrect data.
Main Types of Barcodes
There are hundreds of barcodes today but the most common barcode symbologies are grouped into one of these types:
- Numeric-Only Barcodes – consists of only numbers to identify a specific product or item. The first six numbers will identify the manufacturer or maker. The next five numbers will identify the product or item number. The last number is called a check digit that allows the barcode scanner to check if the item’s barcode was scanned properly.
- Alpha-Numeric Barcodes – this combines the use of numbers, capital letters and even punctuation. This is one of the most common types of barcode today.
- 2-Dimensional Barcodes – 2D barcodes are becoming more and more popular today. It looks much like a QR code because it is square with abstract symbolism with the code embedded in it. Many of the stores today use this type of barcode for promo codes and other marketing extras.
There is a lot going on in a simple barcode that ordinary buyers do not know. For store and business owners, it is important to have a basic understanding of how both barcodes and barcode scanners work so you can take advantage of the technology to improve and optimise your sales process and inventory management.
When choosing the right barcode scanners for your business, it’s important to consult with a professional so they can help you get the right machine for your needs.
If you would like to know more about the best stocktake software and how the right set of software and point of sale systems could help you, give us a call.
ASP Microcomputers are the market leader when it comes to the development of customised and packaged solutions.
This includes Inventory Management, Portable Barcode Readers, Supply Chain Management, Time and Attendance and Asset Tracking to name but a few.
ASP Microcomputers is here to help you run your operations in a smooth and convenient manner by providing you with the right equipment for your company needs.
Contact us so we can sit down and discuss your goals, needs, and business structure. Armed with this information, we can help determine exactly what equipment you need to achieve success.
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