What is a barcode?
A barcode (also bar code) is a machine-readable representation of information (usually dark ink on a light background to create high and low reflectance which is converted to 1s and 0s). Originally, barcodes stored data in the widths and spacings of printed parallel lines, but today they also come in patterns of dots, concentric circles, and text codes hidden within images.
Benefits of using barcodes
In point-of-sale management, the use of barcodes can provide very detailed up-to-date information on key aspects of the business, enabling decisions to be made much more quickly and with more confidence. For example:
- Fast-selling items can be identified quickly and automatically reordered to meet consumer demand,
- Slow-selling items can be identified, preventing a build-up of unwanted stock,
- The effects of repositioning a given product within a store can be monitored, allowing fast-moving more profitable items to occupy the best space,
- Historical data can be used to predict seasonal fluctuations very accurately.
- Items may be repriced on the shelf to reflect both sale prices and price increases.
- Besides sales and inventory tracking, barcodes are very useful in shipping/receiving/tracking.
When a manufacturer packs a box with any given item, a Unique Indentifying Number (UID) can be assigned to the box.
A relational database can be created to relate the UID to relevant information about the box; such as order number, items packed, qty packed, final destination, etc. The information can be transmitted through a communication system such as Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) so the retailer has the information about a shipment before it arrives. Tracking results when shipments are sent to a Distribution Center (DC) before being forwarded to the final destination.
When the shipment gets to the final destination, the UID gets scanned, and the store knows where the order came from, what's inside the box, and how much to pay the manufacturer. The reason bar codes are business friendly is that bar code scanners are relatively low cost and extremely accurate ï¿½ only about 1/100,000 entries will be wrong.