Mobile Barcode Scanning Inventory System: Using QR Codes, UPC Barcodes, Datamatrix Codes To Track Inventory

QR Inventory mobile inventory scanning system works with a variety of barcode types: QR codes, UPC barcodes, datamatrix codes, as well as with the NFC and bluetooth tags. Which barcode type should you use for managing inventory in the mobile application with the barcode scanning? Below is the information on the barcode types and how they work with the mobile devices (smartphones, tablets), that will help you make an informed decision.


QR Inventory mobile application supports a variety of barcode types (UPC barcodes, QR codes, Datamatrix codes), as well as "radio communication" tags, such as NFC and bluetooth tags. Read this article to find out which barcode / tag will work better for you.

Barcode types for inventory tracking with the QR Inventory mobile application

Can I use both barcodes and QR codes for tracking inventory using barcode scanning?

Yes, you can track inventory with barcode scanning using either QR codes or regular UPC barcodes. If your inventory already has manufacturer's barcodes, you can use them and not re-label inventory with QR codes. If your inventory is not labeled, then you can generate and print QR code labels using QR Inventory built-in QR code generation / printing tool.
Important! If you are going to use manufacturer's barcode, please do not forget to enter barcode number printed under a barcode in the UPC Barcode Number field. You need to do it when you import inventory or enter new inventory items manually online. When you enter new inventory into the system on a smartphone in the QR Inventory mobile application, you scan a manufacturer's barcode instead of entering it manually.

Can I use datamatrix codes with the QR Inventory mobile application?

Yes, QR Inventory mobile application will scan datamatrix codes, so you can use them.

What are the advantages of using QR codes vs regular UPC barcodes for the inventory tracking?

It does not really make much of a difference whether you are using QR codes or regular UPC barcodes for the mobile inventory tracking. Many online articles will say that QR codes are better because they can encode more information. Although technically it is true, it really makes no difference for the dynamic inventory system. If you want your inventory system to be real time and dynamic, and not reprint QR codes each time you are changing something, the only thing that QR code or barcode should encode is an inventory item id - all other information is dynamically fetched from the central database. Both QR codes and regular UPC barcodes can encode an item ID without any problems.

QR Inventory software has a built-in tool for generating QR codes, not UPC barcodes - so if your inventory is not labeled you can use this tool to generate and print QR code labels. However, if your inventory is already labeled with the regular UPC barcodes, or for some other reason you prefer to use internally generated labels with the regular UPC barcodes, they will work equally well.

The only time when you may want to use QR codes vs UPC barcodes is if you want the same QR code to work for the internal mobile inventory tracking, as well as for the customers to obtain an inventory item information. In this case you can encode a url that shows inventory or asset information in the QR code - and customers will be able to access it by scanning QR code label with any generic QR code scanning application. Mobile application for the internal company inventory tracking, on the other hand, can parse the encoded URL to extract inventory item ID, and allow company employees who are logged into the application to perform necessary actions on the inventory (process inventory transactions, look up inventory stock or inventory item details). This option cannot be available with the regular UPC barcodes.

What are the advantages of using datamatrix codes vs QR codes?

You may want to use datamatrix codes if your inventory items are very small. Datamatrix codes are more compact, and can be reliably read with a smartphone camera at a smaller size.

Can I use any barcode type in the QR Inventory mobile application?

You can use all types of barcodes which are scannable with a smartphone camera (most of them are, but not all). If in doubt, try to scan your barcode with any generic barcode scanning application. If you can scan it, you will be able to scan the same barcode using QR Inventory mobile application.

Can I generate all types of barcodes in QR Inventory software?

You can only generate QR code labels in QR Inventory software. If your items are not labeled, you can use QR Inventory built-in tool to generate, layout and print QR code labels. If your inventory items are already labeled with a different type of barcode, and it is readable by a smartphone camera (or barcode scanner if this is what you will be using) you can use existing barcodes and save yourself a trouble of labeling inventory.

Can I use my own QR codes?

As long as your own QR codes have a unique inventory id number encoded in them, you can use them.
Important! You will need to enter number encoded in the QR code in UPC barcode number field.
If you have something else encoded in your QR code, you still may be able to use it with the customization - send us a sample or your QR code and we will be able to tell you for sure if you can use it and customization cost if applicable.

What if I want to use datamatrix codes with the QR Inventory mobile application since my inventory items are very small?

If you want to use datamatrix codes for inventory tracking, you will need to generate and print datamatrix code labels elsewhere. Once your inventory is labeled with the datamatrix code labels, you will be able to use them.

What should be encoded in the barcodes that were produced outside of the QR Inventory software?

All types of barcodes that you would like to use for inventory tracking in QR Inventory mobile application should encode a unique number for each asset or inventory line item. This unique number may be the same as your inventory line item id, or different, but there should be one-to-one correspondence between a number encoded in a barcode and an inventory line item entered in the QR Inventory software.

How do I scan a QR code with a smartphone?

Click Scan Barcode Or QR Code button in the QR Inventory mobile application. Keep the smartphone parallel to the QR code label surface, and move it so that QR code / barcode is entirely within the scanning window. At this point QR code will scan.

Why there are separate fields for the Item ID and UPC barcode number in QR Inventory?

It is done for the situation when you have your own internal inventory line item number, which may be different from what is encoded in the manufacturer's barcode. If it is not the case, enter the same number in both fields. You do not have to enter anything in the UPC barcode number field if you are using QR codes generated by the QR Inventory software.

Using radio-communication tags (NFC, RFID) with the QR Inventory mobile application

Can I use NFC tags in the QR Inventory mobile application?

Yes, you can use NFC tags with the QR Inventory mobile application, and use a smartphone to scan them. Please note that NFC tags need a very close distance to be scanned.

Can I use RFID tags with the QR Inventory mobile application?

Smartphones do not have native support for the scanning or the RFID tags. If you want to use RFID tags you will need to purchase a separate RFID reader that can be connected to a smartphone.

How can I scan NFC tags with a smartphone?

Just touch an NFC tag with a smartphone, and it will scan. If you are using NFC tags for the mobile inventory tracking, you can touch assets or inventory items one by one, and they will be scanned and added to the inventory transaction batch. There is no need to click on the scan button and focus the smartphone camera for each scan.

Will I be better off using NFC tags or QR codes?

QR code labels are less expensive and are much easier to produce, so unless you have a good reason to use NFC tags you may be better off with QR code labels. You may want to use NFC tags for the high volume inventory transactions, as an alternative to a hand-held barcode scanner. Scanning NFC tags is faster than scanning a QR code label with a smartphone camera. All you need to do to scan an NFC tag is to touch it with a smartphone. You can find more information on using various technologies for asset and inventory tracking and which one to use in what situation here.

I want to know location of my assets in real time and do not want my employees to scan anything. Is it possible with the QR Inventory?

In order to track assets with the QR Inventory mobile applicationa a human has to scan barcode or NFC tag and record location change on a smartphone. There are more expensive technologies (GPS tracking, RFID) that will allow you to track mobile assets without human intervention. You can find more information on various asset tracking technologies here.

QR Inventory and QR Mobile Data are brand names of inventory management and mobile forms software by AHG -- a provider of mobile and cloud-based applications for business. Our unified mobile platform improves business operations efficiency by eliminating manual tasks and physical paperwork, while providing a secure cloud storage for the business records, real time access to business data for all stakeholders, comprehensive data reporting and analytics. Headquartered in beautiful Boise, Idaho, AHG software is used to manage hundreds of millions of dollars annually in inventory and assets.

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Mobile Inventory Tracking With QR Inventory