QR Inventory Home   >   Inventory Management Trends & Technologies   >   Barcode Inventory Software

Unveiling the Power of Mobile Barcode Scanning for Inventory Management

Take control of your inventory, eliminate stock outs and over ordering with the mobile barcode inventory system. Barcode scanning with the mobile app is perfect for inventory tracking in the field and warehouse.

In today's fast-paced business environment, managing inventory efficiently is crucial. Barcode scanning software systems offer a powerful solution. With the rise of the barcode and QR code scanning mobile apps convenience has reached new heights. Read this article for the info on the mobile barcode scanning software systems. The article explores common functionalities, implementation steps, and scanning equipment of the barcode inventory systems.


barcode scanning inventory management

An Overview Of The Barcode Inventory Software Systems

Barcode inventory software is a digital system that uses barcodes and scanners to make stock tracking faster and error free. Barcode scanning eliminates errors and saves time compared to manual data entry, making inventory management more efficient and accurate. Recent advance in the use of smartphones and mobile apps made barcode inventory management more accessible and affordable. Company employees can use their own smartphones for barcode scanning, which saves you money on purchasing special hardware and creating a connectivity infrastructure.

Barcode Types For Inventory Management Systems

There are a lot of different barcode types, both 1D and 2D. The most frequently used 1D barcodes are UPC barcodes. Out of 2D barcodes, QR codes are most popular. Here is a quick introduction of what these barcodes are, how they are used in inventory management, plus pros and cons of each type.

upc barcode

UPC Barcodes

A UPC (Universal Product Code) barcode is one-dimension (1D) barcode that is traditionally used by many products manufactures. The number encoded in the barcode is a product SKU or a part number. It uniquely identifies each product, and often will be the same for all companies that produce, store or sell it.

UPC barcode has limited capacity. It can encode only letters and numbers, and only up to 16 characters.

How UPC barcodes are used in the inventory management software?
All inventory management software systems rely on the unique identifier for each line item. A barcode encodes this unique identifier. It is often called SKU (stock keeping unit), line item number or part number. Barcode scanners can scan this number fast, and ensure that there are no mix ups in item identification.

Barcode scanning eliminates manual data entries, which redces errors and speeds up inventory processing. Therefore, barcode inventory software is a significant step forward as compared to the manual tracking systems.

What equipment is used in the barcode inventory software?
In the past all barcode inventory software systems relied on the hand-held scanners. These scanners do not have a screen, and should be connected to a computer for inventory processing and data look up. If a software user needed to manage inventory in the field, away from the office computers, he would need to use a mobile computer. Mobile computers have a screen and built-in barcode scanners.

This barcode scanning equipment is quite expensive, especially mobile computers that can cost upwards of $1,000.00 each.

A modern barcode inventory software system eliminate this cost by employing smartphones instead of the scanners or mobile computers. Company employees can use their own smartphones (usually iOS or Android based), eliminating the need for the specialized equipment. In addition to barcode scanning, smartphones provide a direct link to the cloud software via cellular or wifi connection, giving barcode inventory system users access to the real time data.

qr code

QR Codes

A QR (Quick Response) code is a 2 dimensional (2D) barcode that stores data both horizontally and vertically. It consists of black squares on a white background, and can be easily scanned with a mobile phone or a QR code reader. A QR code can fit much more data than a UPC barcode, and have a better error tolerance. It can be scanned even if the label is damaged or obstructed. QR codes can be more reliably scanned with a smartphone than UPC barcodes, with the faster scanning speed. Due to these factors QR codes are now a preferred barcode type for the inventory management systems.

How QR Codes are used in the inventory management software?
Similar to the UPC barcode, a QR code serves as a unique line item identifier. Unlike UPC barcodes, QR codes can encode extra info about inventory. The info may include item weight, size, dimensions, etc. Some inventory management systems use this capability and encode extra data in the QR code. Other systems dynamically fetch info from the back end cloud software.

What equipment is used for QR code scanning?
You can scan QR codes with the barcode scanners and mobile computers. You will need a special type barcode scanner, called 2D imager, that can scan two-dimensional barcodes. These scanners are usually more expensive than 1D barcode scanners.

However, companies often forego barcode scanners, and use smartphones to scan QR codes. QR codes can be reliably scanned by all types of smartphones, and you do not need to buy any extra hardware. Therefore, barcode inventory software systems that rely on the scanners are being replaced with the systems that rely on the smartphones and a mobile app.

How To Implement Barcode Inventory System: Step By Step Guide

Implementation of a barcode inventory system in your company instead of manual inventory tracking is well worth the effort. Implement a barcode software in four easy steps, gain real-time inventory accuracy and free up your staff from tedious manual counting.

Step 1. Generate barcodes and label inventory

Generate barcode labels with items SKU / part number encodes, and label inventory items. A barcode inventory software will usually have a barcode generation and printing built-in, so you won't need any additional tools to do this. If your inventory is already labeled with manufacturers barcodes, you may be able to skip this step and use existing barcodes for inventory tracking.

Step 2. Enter inventory into the software system

If you have a list of inventory items, you will be able to import this list into the system with one click. If you are just starting inventory management, you can enter data manually using a barcode software web interface, or use a mobile app to scan in inventory into the system.

Step 3. Use barcode scanning to track inventory

Track everything that happens to your inventory, from receiving to usage, using a barcode scanning mobile app. Scan multiple barcodes to add items to the batch, then submit the entire batch to a back end cloud software with one click. This updates inventory record in the central database in real time, and makes updates available to all authorized software users.

If you prefer to use a traditional barcode scanner, you can attach it to the smartphone to take advantage of the smartphone screen and capabilities.

Step 4. Review inventory reports

Use barcode inventory software reports to review real time stock level in all locations, inventory movement history, usage trends and statistics. Use this info to efficiently allocate materials for the project, plan purchases and forecast demand.

Scanning Equipment Used In The Barcode Inventory Software

In the past you had to use regular barcode scanners for inventory management. Now you can still use barcode scanners, but you also can use smartphones or tablets and save money on the purchase of the specialized equipment. Wondering what scanner to choose for your barcode inventory system? We explore the pros and cons of traditional scanners, smartphones, and tablets to help you pick the perfect solution for your needs.

Advantages Of Using Smartphones For Barcode Inventory Management

Tracking inventory anywhere

With the smartphones, you can track inventory anywhere: in the field, on the job site, in the warehouse, on the shop floor, etc. Barcode scanners, on the other hand, have to either be plugged into or be in the vicinity of a computer. Therefore, with barcode scanners your field inventory tracking options are limited - you still will need to use manual notes, which is not efficient or productive.

Real time stock updates

Smartphones can be connected to a back end cloud software practically anywhere, via wifi or cellular connection. Therefore, you always have live data that can be accessed by all authorized software users, in the field and in the office.

Lower overall cost of inventory software

If you plan to use inventory software that works with the barcode scanners, you will need to purchase at list 2-4 of them. Barcode inventory software that uses smartphones does not require you to purchase any extra hardware or do any additional setup. Company employees can use their own mobile phones for barcode scanning and field inventory tracking.

More inventory tracking capabilities

Smartphones can be used for much more than barcode scanning. You can use smartphones for the data entry, stock and info lookup, taking photos, collecting signatures, capturing GPS location, creating and e-mailing pdf receipts, and more.

Advantages Of Using A Barcode Scanner For Inventory Management

Fast inventory scanning

Scanning inventory using a hand held barcode scanner is faster than doing it with a mobile phone camera. You won't see much of a difference ifyou have just several items to scan at a time. However for the high volume transactions a gain in the processing speed will be significant.

Scanning reliability

Barcode scanners can scan inventory more reliably in the poorly lit areas, although it does depend on a specific model of a scanner or a smartphone. Barcode scanners are also more focused than a mobile phone camera. If you have several barcodes close together you will have no problems scanning a specific barcode with a scanner. For scanning with a smartphone camera you will need to cover all barcodes except the one you want to scan.

Barcode scanner works with more 1D barcode types

There are certain types of 1D barcodes that cannot be read with a smartphone camera. Regular barcode scanners can usually read all barcode types.

Check how you can automate inventory management using a smartphone for barcode and QR code scanning.

The Best Of Both Worlds: Connect Barcode Scanner To A Smartphone

You can combine the pros of the mobile phones and barcode scanners by using barcode scanners that can connect to a smartphone via Bluetooth. With this setup, you are not bound to the office computers and can process inventory in the field. You can use barcode scanner for the fast and reliable scanning, and a smartphone for data entry, look up, and real time updates.

As always, you have several options here. You can purchase a barcode scanner that emulates keyboard (HID mode), and use it with any inventory management mobile app. The input from the barcode scanner in HID mode goes into the active text field in the mobile app. It produces the same effect as if you would type this data in using a keyboard. This setup, however, takes away the main advantage of using the barcode scanner - a scanning speed. Instead of doing a continuous scanning in the mobile app you will need to get to the input field and put it in focus before each scan.

A better option will be to use an inventory management mobile app which is integrated with a barcode scanner. This setup will allow you to do continuous scanning with no interruptions. On the flip side, you will need to purchase a specific barcode scanner with which your chosen barcode inventory software is integrated.

Check how you can use bluetooth barcode scanners and smartphones for inventory management.

Barcode Inventory Software: Takeaways

A barcode inventory software is a valuable tool for businesses of all sizes. It helps companies efficiently manage their inventory, reduce costs, and improve workforce performance.

A barcode inventory management software has evolved from the desktop computer systems connected to a barcode scanner to the cloud software with the mobile app used for barcode scanning. Modern barcode inventory systems are much more beneficial, providing all software users real time updates and data access.

Take Assets And Inventory Under Control With These Software Products

QR Inventory

Inventory management and asset tracking with mobile devices and barcode scanning. Track inventory and assets in the field, warehouse or office in real time. Always know what you have in stock, where your assets are, what projects they were used for. Review usage history and trends, analyze data to improve business process.    Learn More >>

QR Mobile Data

Mobile data collection and workflow tracking. Collect data in the field, on the shop floor or on the job sites using mobile forms. Link mobile forms to your process / workflow. Store digital documents in the secure cloud, give all stakeholders immediate access to collected data from anywhere.    Learn More >>

QR Audit

Physical inventory count and asset audits. Do planned and ad hoc counts using mobile devices for barcode scanning. Complete inventory counts and asset audits in hours rather than days or weeks, eliminate errors and miscounts. Immediately identify discrepancies with "on the books" inventory.    Learn More >>

QR Inventory Tour Part 4