The Importance of Barcodes in Warehouses

Barcodes in warehouses will not only improve efficiency but will also increase profitability across your business.

Across many industries, the most common and affordable method of traceability is barcoding. Barcodes in warehouses offer automatic product identification, extremely fast recognition and implementation of data. Although application complexity varies, it costs just a few pence per barcode label. It will also help to lower the costs of capital for carrying excess inventory since knowing exactly what is in stock will help avoid ordering an abundance of anything.

A warehouse manager may be aware of how new technology can aid operations, but workers are often reliant on strategies that have proven effective in the past and fell comfortable with systems they know and may not want to adopt the latest technology trends.. While some companies still insist on using inefficient and inaccurate manual methods of collecting information, automatic data capture systems and barcodes  can not only collect information quickly and accurately but can also store it automatically in a digital database for easy access from any location at any time.

Barcodes are everywhere, so it can be easy to take just how useful they are for granted. Without barcodes, it’s way more difficult to be able to easily identify the exact SKU that you’re looking at. Without barcodes, it’s easier for mistakes to slip through the net. But with effective warehouse barcoding in place, you’re in a good position to ensure accurate fulfilment every time.

Top tips on barcodes in warehouses:

  1. Start Early

Everyone starts small and it is never too early to start barcoding your products. Set up processes from day one however small your business is, which in turn will avoid headaches further down the line when you start scaling your brand.

  1. Use Short SKU Codes

This applies if you choose to use your SKU codes as barcodes. If they’re over 15 characters, then they won’t show properly when printed. The same goes with hyphens: avoid using them because they elongate the barcode too much. When barcodes are too long, the code won’t match up to what you have registered on the system and you will run into problems.

  1. Check that the code matches the product

This might sound obvious, but it’s easy for errors to happen and to slip by unnoticed. Take a second to ensure that your barcodes actually match up to the products that they’re meant to represent. Making a mistake at this stage could lead to you shipping out the wrong product and having mismatched, ineffective inventories.

  1. Industry barcode standards.

Before you determine the size of your barcodes, or where you’ll put them on your products, make sure to familiarise yourself with the standards of your industry. There are often regulations in place that businesses must follow, and you need to make sure you’re in compliance with these regulations before you begin designing a label. GS1 is a good place to start. Your industry may also determine if 1D or 2D barcodes are best for your application.

  1. Inside and Out

If you receive standard quantities of inner cases and outer cases, stick barcodes on them. This means that you can scan the cases, instead of having to scan each individual product.  This saves a lot of time as goods come into the warehouse, when you’re picking larger quantities or when you need to perform a stock check.

  1. WMS Integration

If your products aren’t barcoded but you’re thinking about implementing a warehouse system, don’t wait until it’s fully set up to get the process started. Start labelling the products during the implementation to ensure that you can get the most out of your WMS from day one. If barcoding is low down on your list of priorities, then it will become a pain to get on top of as products cycle through your warehouse.

  1. Barcoded at source

Same time and see if your suppliers can deliver your products to you already barcoded. This means that they can be checked, scanned in and put on the racks ready to be sold without any additional admin. Getting warehouse barcoding right before your products arrive at goods-in is a massive time-saver.

  1. Watch out for leading zeros

When your barcodes start with a few zeros, they can get dropped. This is particularly an issue if you use Excel to store your inventories. Any numbers that are pasted, or typed, into Excel that begin with zeroes will erase the first few digits of your barcode. If you use Excel, and you’re able to change your barcodes, then stop using zeroes at the start. It’ll make life just that bit easier.

  1. Keep it simple

More than anything, remember that simplicity is key. Barcodes exist to help you identify things. They don’t need a lot of information in them. We’ve seen cases where location identifiers have been put in the barcodes. It’s not necessary. Long product descriptions are not necessary. Keep it short, keep it simple and enjoy the benefits of a clean, clear and organised barcoding system.

In Summary

Barcode technology can be applied to a myriad of uses throughout your warehouse, from warehouse paperwork to individual employee ID to facilitating the movement of inventory into and out the door.

Barcodes in warehouses are simply a more time-efficient way of imparting information about your inventory to the rest of your business. It takes only a few moments to scan a barcode, and the same amount of time to pull that information back up on a computer when needed.

Many of the warehouses we work with have applied barcode technology to areas such as receiving, put away, replenishment, picking, packing, shipping/manifesting, returns, and cycle counts, value-add functions and labor tracking.

Remember, successful labeling and barcoding of the warehouse or distribution center is key for an effective Warehouse Management System (WMS) implementation. An understanding of labels, automatic data collection devices, facility layout, and operations before taking on the task of labeling and barcoding will ease the pain of setting up the warehouse with barcodes.

About us:

Speak to one of our team to understand how Clarus’ WMS system can cost effectively support best practice warehouse management processes, better customer service and highly efficient working for a range of warehouse operations with pay per month options and no IT infrastructure needed.

Our platform can scale from a one user, small depot system to a 100’s of user distribution centre operation. The ClarusWMS platform will cost effectively scale with your business based on demand.

ClarusWMS is a UK based supplier of warehouse management solutions with a wealth of industry experience in third party logistics, wholesale/retail distribution, online fulfillment, and manufacturing warehousing.

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