What you may not know, though, is there are multiple types of barcodes. One-dimensional (or 1D) barcodes use the familiar rectangular block of black and white stripes, but even among 1D barcodes, there are multiple encoding methods (e.g., UPC-A, UPC-E, UPC-2). Then there are two-dimensional (2D) barcodes, which are pixelated squares similar to QR codes.
Regardless of the type of barcode your business uses, barcodes are cheap and easy to create. Barcode scanners are likewise cheap, and with barcode scanners now available on most iOS and Android devices, you can implement a barcode system without investing a lot up front in hardware. And tracking items by barcode is certainly a lot faster and more accurate than tracking product by hand.
That being said, barcodes have some drawbacks. Barcodes are basically like license plates on a car—they don’t explicitly contain any information about the vehicle or the owner of the car. Instead, those details are maintained in a database, which you can reference any time you need to when you scan the barcode.
In inventory management terms, that means you won’t be able to pull up product data by scanning the product’s barcode unless you’re able to connect to your inventory management database. That’s problematic if your warehouse has notoriously bad Wi-Fi, for instance.
And then there’s the fact that barcodes can be a bit temperamental. If the barcode tag isn’t perfectly flat or scanned at precisely the right angle, your barcode scanner may not be able to read the barcode—problematic if your warehouse staff are in a rush.