How to Set Up a Barcode System

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An efficient barcode system can help your retail business to run smoothly. With a barcode system, business owners can track products that are selling and at what rate, and manage inventory more efficiently. If you want to set up your own barcode system because you are overwhelmed with inventory, or you want to make better product ordering decisions, you should understand how your system will work (the concept of scanning in and scanning out to track inventory and sales) and then purchase the equipment you need to get started.

Things You'll Need

  • Barcode scanner
  • Barcode printer
  • Barcode labels
  • Product codes
  • Software
  • Computer

Obtain UPCs for proprietary products. Apply for an account with the Uniform Code Council (UC-Council.org). For international standard book numbers (ISBN) apply to the International ISBN Agency (BowkerLink.com).

Purchase a barcode printer and a cash register that is connected to a barcode scanner (see example below under "Resources")--the registers are only necessary if you have a retail operation. Zebra Printers are very popular barcode label printers. They come with a software called ZebraDesigner that will allow you to generate your bar codes and get them ready for printing. You also need to purchase a barcode labeling tool from your local office supply store so that your employees can label the products quickly and efficiently.

Design and print your barcode labels using the information you received from the UCC and apply the labels to your products.

Order additional barcode scanners (also called "verifiers") for your stock room or warehouse. These scanners will be used to check in inventory as it arrives to your warehouse. Be sure to purchase corresponding bar code scanning software to set up your system with a central computer in your store or warehouse. The barcode inventory software installed on the central computer connects the barcode printers, scanners, and registers to the same system so that inventory and sales can be tracked. Stratix Corp is one company that has integrated bar code scanners and software (link below).

Label and scan new product shipments when received from your vendor or manufacturer (unless they are already pre-labeled). If you are running a retail operation, transfer the products to the sales floor. If you are a manufacturer, ship the barcode labeled products onto the retailer.

Scan products as they are sold at the cash register if you have a retail operation so that they are automatically entered into the barcode system.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you don't want to order an expensive barcode printer at this time, you can also order barcode labels for all of your products from a third party company like OrderBarCodes online. If you're selling products by other companies, as long as those products are listed with the UCC (or Bowker for ISBNs) their data will show up in your system when scanned.

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