The Ins and Outs of Barcoding

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Barcoding software and hardware are essential tools for accurate stock taking in business. These tools give you easy access to a centralised record of information pertaining to your company’s stock, including pricing, availability, stock levels and product tracking.

In general, barcoding systems are essential for running a successful business, contributing to efficiency, productivity, profitability and customer satisfaction. Here, we explain how barcoding works and how it can benefit your company by providing reliable stock taking processes.

The Basics

Barcodes have been around for a long time and has since been enhanced to suit different business needs. Firstly, a computer system holds the records for all stock, which details what products you are selling, how much they cost, the name of the manufacturer and how many you have of each item. Secondly, a barcode is attached to each individual product. Lastly, there are barcode scanners which read these barcodes to bring up their information on the database.

How It Works


A barcode is a series of black and white lines which, when used with scanners, represent a special decimal code. Using black and white stripes for barcodes works better than, for instance, scanning a series of numbers or letters, since these can easily be confused for the wrong character. That is why barcodes are efficient – they cause very little confusion for the computer system and help you to avoid stock taking mistakes. This is only the basics of barcodes – there are so many different types of barcodes!

Barcode Scanners

Barcode scanners can read barcodes instantly because they are configured with a special light-detecting electronic component called a photoelectric cell. Firstly, the scanner shines a strong LED or laser light onto the black and white stripes of the barcode. The light that reflects into the scanner is picked up by the photoelectric cell, and a pattern of pulses is detected based on the intensity of the light which alternates depending on the placement of the black and white stripes of the barcode.

This pattern is then automatically given a representative series of unique numbers, so that, for example, a black line is represented by 0, and a white line is represented by a 1. Moreover, a barcode which is ordered “black black white black black white” would read as “001001” and so on. Lastly, these digits are sent to the computer attached to the scanner, providing users with access to information about said product.

Barcoding Benefits

Barcoding software is a fast, efficient and accurate method for stock taking processes. These tools can prevent time wastage and inevitable errors caused by conducting the same tasks manually. Users can quickly look up any item and find out how many items are left, whether more needs to be brought in and may also help to distinguish missing stock from stolen stock.

This system is hugely beneficial to inventory control, allowing you to keep an accurate record of your stock, ensure that fast-moving products are well-stocked and may also enable you to identify areas that need improvement, such as theft prevention strategies. In general, barcoding systems are essential for running a successful business, contributing to productivity, profitability and customer satisfaction.

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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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