What Barcoding Means for Distribution

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Barcoding technology has revolutionised inventory control and has played an important role in streamlining the distribution industry. From receipt to dispatch, distributors will often process hundreds, if not thousands of stock keeping units per day.

Hand-held mobile devices improve picking accuracy by 99.9 percent and efficiency by up to 15 percent. The barcode system will automatically update the available quantities of goods on-hand, optimising inventory control and reporting functions.

With the employment of barcode technology, a distribution business can improve data accuracy and effectively monitor warehouse capabilities in real time.

The right item in the right place

Barcoding improves distribution operations by maximising the efficiency and productivity of receipt and dispatch functions. Whether incoming supplies or an outgoing delivery, staff can quickly and effortlessly confirm that stock meets order requirements through the simple act of scanning barcodes.

Storing goods in the correct location, expedites the picking process and will make stocktaking quicker and easier. Staff can scan an individual item and then the corresponding bin number. The system will then verify that goods have been placed in the correct location.

High turnover stock should be placed in easy access locations closest to dispatch, improving fill rates and overall inventory control.

The system that is right for you

If you are considering a barcode system to streamline your distribution business, you are making a smart choice. Distribution companies experience greater productivity and fewer errors when implementing a barcode system in their daily processes.

Barcodes come in one and two-dimensional applications. Of the variety of barcodes available, all have pros and cons and certain systems are better suited to specific industries.

Code 128

A compact, high-density 1D code used in the logistics and transportation industries for ordering and distribution. Geared toward non-point-of-sale products, they are used when supply chain applications label units with serial shipping container codes. Code 128 barcodes are dynamic and can store diverse information because they will support any character within the ASCII 128-character set.


The 2D MaxiCode is used in logistics and distribution to track and manage parcel shipments, helping to address and sort packages in a quick, efficient way. In contrast to the linear barcodes, the MaxiCode uses dots arranged in a honeycomb pattern and is made up of 888 information-bearing cells.

MaxiCodes are limited in size to around one square inch but can be linked together up to eight times, creating a composite tag to deliver longer messaging. Generally applied to packaging and parcels, they need to withstand a certain degree of damage and are protected with a strong Reed-Solomon error correction code. This symbol has an error correction rate of 12.5 percent allowing it to still be scannable even when a portion of the symbol is smudged, torn or damaged.

Providing greater efficiency and inventory control, mobile barcoding systems count and report accurate data, disseminating the on-hand quantity of each stock item to sales staff and warehouse managers.

Rolling out barcodes does however, require careful planning. Therefore, it is important that you undertake some research before deciding which system is right for your business.

Read more about the benefits of barcoding on your inventory management.

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Melanie - Unleashed Software

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.

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