Category Archives: Inventory Solutions

For a business just setting out on an endeavor to improve the efficiency of its inventory processes, there are a variety of factors to consider. Chief among these concerns, however, is implementing an effective barcode system. A barcode system is about more than just the barcodes themselves, although of course those barcodes are necessary. A barcode system that tracks inventory effectively is able to seamlessly integrate the barcodes with barcode hardware like a barcode scanner or a barcode reader, as well as with the latest barcode software. Today, there are more barcode software options than ever before, many of which are specifically designed to track inventory.


The options provided by the latest inventory tracking software are numerous. Businesses are now able to grant inventory database access to all of their employees, allowing for significantly improved synergy, workflow and productivity between employees and departments. The increased interconnectedness provided by greater access to inventory tracking software also increases efficiencies from business to business. Inventory fluctuations can now be communicated in real time to the manufacturing and shipping sectors, allowing for optimizations to be made throughout the supply chain. There has never been more real-time data available than there currently is thanks to cloud-based software and other recent innovations in the world of inventory tracking software. With all of these benefits, many of which require a complex process of implementation and systemization before they are fully realized, it can be easy for businesses to jump the gun and neglect the basics. Before a business or organization considers inventory tracking software, it needs to consider the unique nature of its inventory. This begins by determining whether it is a periodic inventory or a perpetual inventory.




Periodic Inventory


In a periodic inventory, updates to the inventory are made on a regular or “periodic” basis. In these cases, a business or organization makes decisions about its inventory through the framework of a fixed period of time. Many assess their inventory on an annual basis, a biannual basis or by financial quarter. Businesses that take a periodic inventory, at the end of each fiscal year for example, often require only a very basic version of inventory tracking software. Though the software needed for periodic inventory may be simple by industry standards, it is important for businesses to identify a comprehensive set of functions that the software needs to be able to perform and ensure that any prospective software program can perform these functions. Periodic inventory software is usually able to intake barcode scans and allow users to input quantity numbers. Other fields that this basic software is able to collect include location, bin, room and other item descriptions. The software can also synch with a database and allow users to look up information on an item based on its attributes like price or color.


Perpetual Inventory

Perpetual inventories require software that allows users to track inventory on an ongoing or continual basis. The major feature of this software is its ability to allow users to make real-time adjustments to an inventory. This ability to adjust inventory as items are received and shipped is a major advantage for businesses. Perpetual inventory tracking software also uses to conduct audits that compare the inventory data with the actual inventory. Perpetual inventory requires software that allows for more factors to be analyzed and adjusted by users, including things like Item Code, SKU number, minimum/maximum quantity allowed and quantity on hand. Whatever an organization’s type of inventory, there is a software program to help manage it

Barcode scanners are useful across a diverse spectrum of industries. The tools are so ubiquitous, in fact, that the particular industry that one associates with barcodes and barcode scanners usually has a lot to with the particular industry that one works in or is most familiar with. Anyone who has worked at a grocery store is intimately familiar with the usefulness of a barcode scanner in quickly scanning food items at the supermarket checkout counter. Anyone who has worked in the manufacturing sector understands the usefulness of barcodes in tracking inventory and tracking various warehouse processes—identifying any efficiencies in these areas or anywhere along the supply chain can lead to significant advantages for a business in the manufacturing sector.


The examples of the grocery store and the warehouse illustrate the diverse applications of barcode scanners. Those aforementioned examples also reveal the diversity of the barcode scanners themselves. Barcode readers in a supermarket are usually operated by a single person, and while this is sometimes true in a warehouse as well, the latter environment often utilizes a system of mounting several scanners on one piece of automated equipment to allow for more items to be scanned more quickly. A wide variety of types of scanners and readers for different purposes are available from top brands like Honeywell and Intermec.




Outside of these examples, however, is one industry that also relies on the barcode scanner is the retail industry. Barcode scanners have such a longstanding tradition of use in the retail industry that it can be all too easy for a retail business to rest on its laurels and refuse to optimize its use of a barcode scanner. While many shy away from examining business practices out of fear that increased investment will be required—a brand new, high-tech barcode scanner may be needed, for example—a review of a retail barcode reader system often reveals many areas in which money can be saved as well. Here are some tips for using barcode readers effectively in a retail setting.


Customized Barcode Labels


Many retail stores utilize customized barcode labels for the purpose of aligning the store’s inventory with its barcode readers and barcode software system. Retail stores who have never considered this practice may want to look into the possibility that it is the right choice for their situation. Other retailers, however, may want to consider dropping the practice if they are doing so currently and instead finding barcode readers and a barcode software system that fits with the existing barcode labels that come with the items. Which is the best option is dependent on a number of factors unique to the individual business. Money may be saved either way.


Other Money-Saving Tips


Many barcode software companies offer used and/or refurbished barcode scanners. These scanners can be purchased at a discounted rate and are often still able to perform well in a retail environment. Companies also offer barcode reader rentals that allow a store to try out a new model or a new style of barcode reader on a temporary basis to assess whether it is the right option for a particular retail business before a more significant investment is made. A final tip is to make sure that there is a system in place to ensure the care and maintenance of barcode readers; this saves money by avoiding the purchase of new equipment and costly repair bills.



While most people do not give much thought to the barcode equipment that scans their items at the grocery store, or scans their tickets at the movie theater, the truth is that these are very sophisticated devices that run on cutting-edge software. While the world of barcode software may be an uncharted one for many people, this wonderful software makes so many aspects of our lives more convenient. If you are curious about this amazing technology, and would like to know more about how it can make your life more convenient, read further.  This article will serve as a handy guide to barcode software.


The Uses Of Barcode Software


Barcode software can be written – and used – for a wide variety of purposes. To name a few: barcode software is used to track inventory, manage assets, track attendance (an important function for tradeshows and exhibitions), and scan tickets. The preceding list is certainly not comprehensive; there are many other functions that barcode software can be used for, and creative minds are coming up with new uses for barcode software every day.


How Does It Work?


At this point, you might be thinking, “OK, all of this sounds really cool, but how does this stuff actually work?”  Great question! Like other software, barcode software needs to be programmed into a device—in this case a barcode reader or scanner. A good barcode equipment vendor will likely have a team of data gurus who can program this software for you. The amazing this is that this programming can often be customized to meet your specific needs: you are not limited to a “one size fits all” program.  That being said, you can purchase a pre-packaged software program, if that meets your functional requirements.


Renting Barcode Software




One important thing to note is that you are not necessarily required to purchase barcode software in every case. Barcode software rentals are an increasingly popular choice for people who need the software on a temporary basis. This includes event planners and organizers. In most cases, renting barcode software does not mean that you have to sacrifice the customization and programming expertise mentioned above: barcode software can still be set up and customized for rentals. The actual equipment – such as barcode scanners and readers – that the software runs on can be rented as well.


Technical And On-Site Support For Your Barcode Software


For those of us who are unfamiliar with a given program or software, expert guidance is often needed. Fortunately, when purchasing or renting software, you have the opportunity to take advantage of customer support—both technical and on-site. Technical support is where a customer service representative helps you troubleshoot issues with your barcode software (or correct user errors), so that everything can run smoothly again. On-site support is where a representative from the software vendor provides expert guidance on how to best use the product. Take full advantage of these opportunities: they can help you get the most out of your barcode software and equipment.

A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, as the saying goes, and it turns out it is a saying that is just as applicable to supply chains. When most outside observers think about the links in a supply chain, they think in terms of broad categories like production, shipping and inventory. Of course, a glaring problem with any major aspect of a supply chain, such as those previously mentioned, is going to dramatically diminish the functioning of the overall process. What those who follow supply chains more closely understand, however, is that each broader category contains within it a series a series of sub-categories and sub-processes that are also crucial for the overall success of the entire supply chain.


Considering each aspect of a supply chain at such a micro level is important for several reasons. A breakdown in a major area such as shipping is obviously problematic, but it is usually such a glaring issue that it will receive the immediate attention it needs in order to get things back on track. By contrast, a problem with a small aspect of shipping, such as inefficient communication between a supply chain manager and a temporary trucking company manager, may be a subtle inefficiency that goes unnoticed for months or years at a time. Over the course of such an extended lifespan, a slight problem can build up even more long-term consequences than an obvious disaster. With that importance of attending to details in mind, here is a look at a few factors to remember that can affect the overall quality of an inventory system and thus the overall quality of a supply chain.


Staying Organized


For a type A, hyper-organized personality, there are few things more satisfying than setting up or analyzing a warehouse categorization system. Warehouses often hold tens of thousands of parts, a scale that requires a thorough, effective system of organization in order to locate what’s needed when it’s needed. As an example, many warehouses employ a categorization system referred to as ‘ABC classification,’ wherein the pieces of the inventory are given an A, B, or C label based on factors like the item’s value and the level of documentation that it requires; items given an A designation may be the most valuable and have the most documentation required in the event they need to be moved. There is more than one way to implement an inventory categorization system, and some are more conducive to different inventory sizes. Whatever system is used, it should be simple and easy to understand—and not just for one expert warehouse manager. To promote growth and efficiency, new people should be able to quickly learn the classification system.


Tools Of The Trade




Though warehouses don’t seem like a hub of modern technology, using the latest technology is a surprisingly vital part of modern inventory control. Inventory tracking hardware and software, which collects usable data by scanning inventory barcodes, is one example. Many businesses with smaller inventories choose to rent inventory scanners for this purpose. Integrating mobile technology through a warehouse management system and upgrading conveyor belt-based shipping systems are other ways a warehouse can improve its inventory control processes.




While tech is important, old-fashioned personal relationships are also a vital part of warehouse and inventory management. Maintaining strong working relationships with each shipping supplier can help maintain success and efficiency. Often, a warehouse management system can be programmed to track supplier performance (by a number of different metrics such as communication and scheduling). This allows warehouses to assess the performance of each supplier and potentially provide incentives and consequences based on performance. In this way, new technology and old-school business practices need to stay competitive in today’s inventory game.

There’s no denying that smartphones have changed the way we communicate. On a personal level, it’s never been easier to quickly get in touch with people and to quickly execute a range of everyday functions—from banking to getting driving directions—all from phones that are getting smaller and more capable seemingly by the day. Of course, the increasing functionality, portability and efficiency of smartphones also means they’re changing the way many businesses function. Many of the smartphone facets that have changed our personal lives have the capacity, if scaled and adapted properly, to similarly change the way we do business.


In some ways, smartphones offer functions specifically relevant to the business world. One such function is their increasing ability to work with barcode technology. Smartphone apps are being developed that function as mobile barcode scanners, with the capacity to scan barcodes in order to store and transfer their data. When most people think of barcode technology and barcode scanners, they might think of supermarkets or the retail industry more broadly. While barcode technology has certainly been a growing part of the retail industry, it has also been a significant part of increasing efficiency within the manufacturing sector. As smartphones are increasingly able to scan the barcodes used by warehouses, how are business leaders within the manufacturing sector best able to gauge whether smartphones might be a good option for their situation? Here is a look at some factors to consider.





In a warehouse setting, it is vitally important that a barcode scanner have the necessary scanning range. Many barcode scanner and inventory scanner rental options come equipped with an impressive range that warehouses are comfortable with. To this point, the consensus seems to be that the range of most smartphone barcode scanning apps is not yet up to part with the hardware that is designed specifically for the purpose of scanning inventory. Before eschewing regular barcode scanners completely in favor of smartphone scanners, make sure the smartphone scanning range is going to work for your warehouse.




Warehouse scanners also need to be able to scan quickly. Not only do they need to scan quickly, they need to be able to scan barcodes that are potentially difficult to read due to being smudged or dirty. Anyone familiar with warehouses understands that the environment isn’t the same as a clean, quiet office. To realize the economic and efficiency benefits that come with a barcoded inventory system, it is important that a scanner be able to move quickly through the inventory. Smartphone scanners are making progress as far as speed goes, but it may still limit your ability to use them for a warehouse, especially for relatively large inventories.




While the range and speed may limit your ability to use a smartphone scanner in the warehouse, the cost may be one variable in the smartphones’ favor. Considering the cost of a phone or tablet, a protective carrying case and the scanning app itself, there may be some cost savings when compared with a traditional barcode scanner. Renting barcode equipment may be the answer, getting all the power and efficiency of actual barcode scanners & varying equipment, at costs significantly lower than purchasing. Though it depends significantly on the nature and quantity of your inventory, a smartphone scanner may be something to consider even if it’s only as a supplementary tool.

A recent report, “Barcode Scanner Market: Global Industry Analysis and Opportunity Assessment, 2017-2027,” released by Future Market Insights (FMI), takes a look at recent, current and projected trends in the barcode scanner market. The major takeaway form the report is that the use of barcode technology is increasing at a significant rate. The use of the technology is rising in a variety of industries, with notable growth occurring within the retail and manufacturing industries. To most observers of the barcode technology industry, the report comes as no surprise. Over the past decade, more businesses than ever before are purchasing barcode scanners, while others are renting barcode scanners for seasonal, temporary or trial purposes. Not only does the FMI report observe a general upward trend going forward, it also comments on the specific reasons for the more widespread adoption of barcode technology. Here is a look at some reasons why businesses are incorporating more barcode technology into their operations and why they are projected to continue doing so in the future.


Fewer Errors


Tracking data using barcodes and barcode scanners has proven to result in fewer errors than when using manual data entry systems like spreadsheets. Current barcode software makes it easy to transfer the scanned data into spreadsheets so that companies can still perform all the data-oriented tasks they’re used to, only with the added benefit of more accurate numbers. As mentioned above, the greater accuracy is helping to improve the efficiency and bottom lines of many companies in the retail and manufacturing sectors. The report points out, though, that the sector benefitting the most from this accuracy going forward is the healthcare industry. Professionals in the healthcare industry—from pharmacists to physicians to those in administrative roles—are using barcode scanners to cut down on medication errors and greater analyze data related to things like the manufacturing dates of medication.




Less Manual Labor


Because of the improved accuracy involved in collecting data with barcode scanners, there is a concurrent reduction in the costs associated with the manual labor of data entry. This doesn’t necessarily mean jobs will be eliminated; often, the quick, accurate data provided by barcode scanners simply frees up workers to focus on other tasks and thereby improves the overall efficiency and bottom line of a company.


Data Analytics


Another reason for the increasing use of barcode scanners is the increasing effectiveness of data analytics. Data is only as valuable as the tools used to work with the data. Thanks to data analysts and data analysis software can do more with data than ever before, from incorporating it into their marketing strategy to increasing the efficiency of their supply chain. As a result, data is more valuable than ever. As a company is able to access it more quickly, it becomes more valuable; as a company is able to better ensure its accuracy, it also becomes more valuable.


Going Forward


One interesting prediction noted by the report is a shift toward camera-based barcode readers. Currently, most scanners use laser technology to read barcodes, but this may change going forward. While laser scanners are expected to maintain the largest share of the market, camera-based readers will become more popular. As with other forms tech hardware like computers and cell phones, there will also be a continued trend toward smaller sizes. Hand-held scanners are also expected to rise in effectiveness and popularity going forward.

More industries than ever before are learning about and reaping the benefits of barcode technology. As the science of data analysis evolves, so does the value of fast, accurate data collection. Though barcode technology has been around and has been used successfully in certain industries for decades, the revolution in the way we think about and use data has afforded new respect to barcode technology. Professionals in industries from manufacturing to healthcare now see barcode technology as the conduit between their professions and the data necessary to improve the efficiency and success of their missions.


As anyone who has scanned a QR code understands, smartphones and tablets are beginning to offer apps that scan barcodes; the advantages that come with scanning barcodes from a smartphone or tablet are considerable because it allows the data to be quickly stored, transferred and acted upon. While these apps will continue to develop, barcode scanners are still the most effective hardware for mining the valuable data stored in those black-and-white barcodes. For companies who understand how to use data to improve their operations, barcode scanners are one of their most valuable tools. As more people use barcodes, more people are learning about barcode scanners. They’re learning about what can go right with the devices as well as about what can go wrong. Here is a look at some of the benefits and drawbacks of barcode scanners, regardless of the industry in which they’re used.




The main benefit of barcode scanners is going to be different from person to person and from business to business. Each of the main benefits of barcode scanners, though, work together synergistically to improve the efficiency of business operations. The main general benefits are error reduction, inventory control and times savings. Barcode scanners have been proven to reduce the human error that is inherent in any data collection process. Inventory control is another benefit, as barcode scanners help provide real-time information about the current status of a company’s overall inventory or the specific inventory of certain items at certain stages of a business process. Not only are barcode scanners more accurate than manual entry, they are a quicker alternative as well—limiting the amount of time a business must devote to this process and freeing up time for other areas.






Obviously, barcode scanners cost money. For small businesses especially, a barcode scanner and the accompanying software that may be necessary for success can represent a significant investment. This is why a careful cost-benefit analysis must be conducted that considers the above benefits of barcode scanners and the value that those benefits will bring to a particular business. To mitigate the cost factor, many companies and organizations see leasing barcode scanners as an option either on a trial or temporary basis in order to get a better sense of their potential benefits. Like any piece of equipment, a barcode scanner may be subject to breakdowns and repair costs, and this should be factored into any potential cost-benefit analysis.

Whereas only recently RFID technology was considered a high-tech novelty, something that was more suitable for a futuristic science fiction movie than it was for a small or mid-sized business, more and more companies of all sizes are incorporating RFID technology into their businesses operations. Despite how common the technology has become, many business owners are still reluctant to use RFID. For some, this may be because being slow adopters of new fads and trends is part of the reason they’ve been so successful in business in the first place. For these people and others, the potential applications of RFID may not have been simply and clearly articulated to them. Generally, business owners with a track record of success possess the foresight and creativity to see how a technology can be applied to bring a benefit to their business. While RFID can certainly be understood at a highly complex, technical level, a broad overview of how others are using the technology can be a helpful starting point in understanding it. Here is a look at some uses businesses are finding for RFID technology.




Nearly all businesses that sell a product—and many that provide services involving equipment—have an interest in keeping track of the physical objects that make their business go. From products and equipment to assets, people, documents and anything else vitally important to a business, leaders need to effectively manage and monitor these items. RFID tags associated with individual company assets can provide an efficient, automatic way of asset tracking. Having a running, accurate assessment of assets is about more than just keeping track; it provides businesses with the flexibility to make quick, smart decisions going forward.




RFID also allows businesses to more easily trace an item as it goes through the supply chain or goes through any sort of internal business process. By tracking a product’s movement through the supply chain, businesses are able to better maintain quality control throughout each individual stage of the process and more easily identify strengths and weaknesses.


Inventory Visibility




In the current hyper-competitive retail environment, it is more important than ever before for retailers to maintain inventory visibility at several different levels. RFID tags allow retailers to access up-to-date information about how much of an item is in stock, where it is displayed and how it is priced. The more accurate these totals are, the easier it is for retailers to analyze, compare and adjust these factors as necessary to improve sales. Many of the companies using RFID labels for inventory purposes also utilize barcode inventory rentals that allow them to rent the software and hardware necessary for optimum functioning of their inventory system.




As the aforementioned section on traceability indicates, it is important to monitor each stage of a business process. This is perhaps most obviously seen in the manufacturing process. By assigning RFID tags and labels to parts, manufacturing plants—including automobile manufacturing plants—are better able to assess the strengths and weaknesses of their operations.  Implementing barcode software solutions that are customized to a specific business can do all this and more, even perform attendance tracking, inspections, and label printing.


Barcode software and hardware are well understood to have dramatically impacted the inventory management processes of businesses in recent years. The effects of barcode technology have extended into many different industries. In years past, barcodes have been considered to be something limited to grocery store checkout counters or businesses with inventories large enough to fill warehouses that necessitated an automated tracking system.


In recent years though, more and more companies in niche markets are investigating barcode equipment rentals to implement the technology into their business on a trial basis. Not only have barcodes developed to make this possible, but cloud-based data tracking software has evolved to a point where its capability and price point makes sense even for small businesses and industries that would not have traditionally considered barcode technology.


Bardoced Healthcare




One of the industries that is finding greater use for the barcode is the healthcare industry. The effects of barcode technology in the healthcare industry are interesting because they have such a tremendous impact on peoples’ everyday lives. While awareness of the benefits of barcodes in some other sectors are limited to industry experts and business analysts, the barcoding of the healthcare industry is of interest to anyone who cares about the effectiveness of the modern medical system. Here is a look at how barcodes are being used in the healthcare industry.


Error Reduction


Research studies and statistical analyses have shown that barcoded inventory tracking systems produce fewer errors than manual-based data and inventory tracking systems. The benefits of this error reduction are obvious for businesses whose primary goal is to increase efficiency and thus promote business growth. In the healthcare industry, however, error reduction means a better quality of care for patients and can have a positive impact on the recovery of a particular patient. Increasingly, healthcare facilities are barcoding the medications they provide patients with the goal of reducing errors. There are several international standards that medical and pharmaceutical barcodes must be in accordance with, and many individual nations have developed their own standards to promote the safety and efficiency of medical systems.




In addition to the potentially lifesaving efficiency and error-reduction offered by barcodes in the medical industry, the consistency they bring is also a benefit. The consistency is due to the fact that the same data on the production and shipment of medicine and medical supplies can now be accessed from many different locations. The healthcare industry is not a monolith; there are many different types of organizations involved in the care and treatment of patients. Because of barcodes, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, non-profit organizations and other treatment centers all have access to the same data about the use and effectiveness of their different resources. As a result, these organizations can better collaborate and innovate to determine the most effective allocation and resources and treatment procedures.



Going Forward


The integration of barcodes within the healthcare industry only appears to be increasing. State-of-the-art intensive care units are even being designed and equipped to use barcodes and barcode scanners to keep track of equipment and activity in their vitally important workspace. Special dietary requirements that are common in medical settings are also more easily adhered to thanks to barcoded systems. The effects of the barcode and barcode equipment on the healthcare industry are sure to be noticed by more and more people going forward.



To compete in today’s competitive economy, small businesses—especially fledgling businesses that have yet to establish a foothold in their market—need to seize every opportunity they can to get a leg up. More than ever before, this process of turning over every stone looking for business advantages involves utilizing business software. There are several reasons why business software is more important to businesses in a diverse set of industries than ever before. For one, more businesses than ever before are taking advantage of software; thus, businesses who neglect to invest the resources in making software work for them risk falling behind their competitors. Also, the software itself is much more advanced (and easy to use) than ever before. Along with being more advanced, today’s business software is also more specialized in many ways than ever before. It may not benefit small businesses to take a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to selecting software. Instead, businesses should carefully consider the areas of their business that would most benefit from the efficiency afforded by the latest software. Here is a look at some areas of a business that can be improved through software.




There are several different quality accounting software programs that can help your accounting department operate more efficiently. QuickBooks is perhaps the most reputable, and it is available in both desktop and online versions. Which version is right for your business depends largely on your individual needs; both options are increasingly affordable for businesses of all sizes. An even simpler, more affordable, cloud-based accounting program option is FreshBooks. FreshBooks might be the best option for a business with minor accounting needs and a lack of experience with accounting software. Another increasingly popular alternative for businesses with minor accounting needs is Wave Accounting, which is free to use (though it offers certain types of support packages for a monthly fee).




As new small businesses grow, human resources is an area that can be neglected. One way to help avoid this is by implementing software that can make the job easier. One popular human resources program called Zenefits allows users to complete all the different aspects of human resources, including benefits management, payroll processing and more. The program is relatively simple to use and can be set to run on an automatic basis. There are also alternatives to Zenefits out there that can help your small business.




Scheduling can mean different things to different businesses. For some it may mean scheduling the shifts of employees, while for other it may primarily mean scheduling appointments with clients. Many scheduling software programs are versatile enough to deal with all the various kinds of scheduling needs a business may have. Many of these programs, like When I Work for scheduling staff hours and Booker for booking appointments, allow your employees and clients to access the software as well, increasing the connectivity between businesses and their customers.






Many businesses still keep track of their inventory the old-fashioned way; with the rise of new inventory management software programs, even entering inventory manually into an Excel sheet is considered the old fashioned way. Businesses, even those with small inventories, should consider investigating a quality inventory/data tracking program like ScanCount Pro or Redbeam Inventory Tracking. The software is usually designed to work in conjunction with inventory tracking hardware like barcode scanners. Many companies offer both the hardware and software on a trial basis, so business owners should stop and think if barcode inventory rentals might improve the efficiency of their inventory process.