If your business relies on manual stock handling processes, then chances are that you are not managing your inventory as effectively as possible. Manual processes cost a lot of time and can often increase error rates in an organization’s inventory data. While some forms of automation can be costly to set up, barcode tracking is incredibly quick and affordable to implement. At its most simple, barcoding can be set up using some basic labelling equipment, a barcode scanner and inventory management software. Given that the barriers to barcoding are so low, there are a number of reasons that using barcodes to manage inventory should be a priority.
Barcodes save time
Data entry is as mind-numbing as it is time consuming. Staff (and business owners) spend a significant amount of time transferring batch or serial numbers from inventory to an inventory management system. Barcodes simplify this process; instead of entering data manually, staff can simply scan a barcode to input a batch or serial number into the record. Although larger businesses may take automation further, such as by automating the scanning process, simply scanning a barcode still leads to significant time savings.
Barcode scanning almost eliminates the possibility of human error, at least in terms of data entry and inventory identification. Manual data entry is error prone; if inventory is being handled manually, each inventory movement increases the risk of introducing errors into the inventory records. Such errors could be inconsequential, such as minor variances that are picked up and corrected at the next stock count. Other errors could result in incorrectly priced sales, missed sales or even significant inventory shortages. All of these errors will have an impact on the business’ bottom line.
In many industries, such as the food and pharmaceutical businesses, it is important to be able to trace the entire supply chain for any given item of inventory. Compliance with traceability requirements can be a costly, stressful endeavour. Using barcode tracking reduces the resources required to track inventory items more frequently throughout the production and distribution process, making it easier to see what’s gone into every batch.
Although no business wants to think that any of its staff could be dishonest, the reality is that many businesses suffer from some level of fraud or dishonesty. Using barcode scanning, rather than manual data entry, reduces the opportunity for a dishonest employee to tamper with the inventory record (for example, by recording sales of the wrong product in order to hide theft).
Real-time inventory control
A key advantage of barcodes, convenience aside, is that they enable your business to keep track of inventory in real time. When inventory records are manually collected (on paper, for example) and then transferred into a spreadsheet, it can take a considerable amount of time for each inventory movement to show up in the inventory record. If the staff member who typically performs data entry is away or needs to deal with a large backlog of work, the delays could be significant.
By automating this process with barcode scanning, you can ensure that inventory levels and location information is able to be updated in real time – ensuring that you always have an up to date, accurate picture of the stock on hand.