Small businesses sometimes struggle with inventory control but, unfortunately, many of these businesses consider that they do not have the time or capital to spare to implement a solution. In reality, an effective stock control system is likely to save both time and money.
An automated or semi-automated inventory management system that combines barcoding and inventory management software is a great starting point for a business that needs to get its inventory house in order. Let’s look at the ways your business can profit from combining barcodes and inventory management software.
How Does Barcoding Work?
A barcode is essentially a picture that translates to a series of numbers and letters, typically representing numbers and letters with black bars and white spaces. So-called ‘two dimensional’ barcodes expand on this concept, generally using a complex algorithm to arrange small black squares on a white space to represent a much larger amount of data.
Barcodes can be used for a wide array of purposes but are a common tool in the inventory management context. Businesses will typically assign their products with stock keeping numbers, batch numbers, serial numbers – all types of unique identifiers. These unique identifiers can be encoded in a barcode which, when scanned, reveals the relevant information.
How Does Barcoding Integrate With Inventory Management Software?
If you already use inventory management software, you will understand the simplicity of managing every aspect of inventory in one place. With barcode scanning, you can unlock efficiency gains, improve the accuracy of data entry and speed up the arduous stocktaking procedure.
While barcode support is a common feature in inventory management software, it is not universally supported, so make sure that your chosen package has a barcode scanning feature.
Barcoding is essentially a replacement for manually entering data into a data entry field. In a ‘barcode’ field, you can manually enter the number found at the bottom of the barcode. Alternatively, you can scan the barcode and have the inventory management system fill the field out automatically. This works for any data entry field as a barcode scanner can be used to populate fields for batch numbers, serial numbers and item codes, just to name a few options.
Why Make The Switch To Barcode Scanning?
Barcode scanning reduces manual data entry, eliminating a major source of inventory data error. This means that you are more likely to have the right quantities of the right products entered in your system. Stock taking is also required less frequently to correct the inventory record.
Barcoding is a major efficiency boon. Not only does manual entry require more time for data auditing and stock taking, it is also a slow process. Adding value after value into field after field is a painstakingly slow task, sapping both time and staff morale.
Many businesses, particularly those with complex and varied inventory requirements, lack visibility over their stock. Barcode scanning allows a business to track its inventory in real-time. Staff have total visibility over each item from the time it is receipted or produced, to the time it is shipped to the customer. As online inventory management takes off, many businesses are now managing inventory from the cloud – allowing them to keep track of every moving part in their business, in realtime and from virtually any place in the world.
Article by Melanie Chan in collaboration with our team of Unleashed Software inventory and business specialists. Melanie has been writing about inventory management for the past three years. When not writing about inventory management, you can find her eating her way through Auckland.