How to Choose a Barcode System

A barcode system lets you keep track of the stock in the shelving systems in your warehouse and the movement of your stock levels. A typical system will have some hardware devices that allows you to scan individual items and relay that to some kind of central management software. The software allows you to analyse the data and print out more barcode labels. Barcode systems can be complex or relatively simple, depending on your needs. Here are five quick tips to choosing the right barcode system for your warehouse needs.

Identify Your Business Requirements

The first step in choosing any system is to identify your business requirements.

  • What do you want to do with the barcode information that’s collated?
  • Do you need it to be incorporated into your ERP or inventory management software?
  • Do you need a wireless system?

Scanner types range from pen scanners to laser barcode scanners and handsfree scanners. Consider how staff handle goods. Handsfree scanners can speed up the scanning process but may be less convenient than handheld scanners if you have very bulky items on which barcodes aren’t applied in a uniform spot, or if you want to scan items that are still on the pallet racking.

Types of barcode readers:

  • Barcode wands – reads the code when the pen light is dragged across the length of the barcode. This is the least expensive and most compact reader, but it’s not as fast as other barcode readers.
  • Laser scanners – one of the most widely used scanners, this reads the code anywhere from 6 inches to 8 feet away. Some extra long range scanners can provide accurate readings from 30 feet away.
  • Handsfree or Mounted scanners – these scanners are fixed to a stand so staff can scan the codes with both hands. This type of scanner is useful for high volume scanning.
  • Wireless scanners – useful if staff need mobility around a large warehouse and for scanning large, bulking items.

Research and Shortlist Vendors

The next step is to compile a list of vendors online. Make note of the specific products and vendors that interest you. Send out an email or make a call if you have any questions about the systems that interest you, and for quotes. Once you’ve made appropriate queries, you’ll probably be left with a handful of vendors and products for the next step.

Test Drive Demos

Ask the vendors if you can test the system before purchase. Try out the barcode system and, if you’re buying a new software program for the system, have ground level staff test use the product demos. Ask them for feedback before you make a decision. Balance the features, feedback from your staff, pricing, and after sales service and support (especially if you’re buying software) before confirming the purchase.

Check Testimonials and References

It’s always good to hear from other customers before you buy. Look online or ask the vendor for some references if you’re unsure about their reliability, and especially if they haven’t been in business for a significant period of time.

Purchase and Implementation

You may have assistance from the vendor for implementation or chosen to install the system yourself. For smooth integration, staff can be brought on board quickly with a short training program for everyone, and not just staff who will be using the system everyday.

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