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How Barcode Scanners and Scanning Works


Are You Using Barcodes?

Have you noticed that there are barcodes on many of the items that we all purchase every day? Barcodes are an easy way to manage inventory, control pricing structures, and track purchasing trends from one central computer location. With barcodes, a store can instantly change the prices on a particular item, know when a product needs to be reordered, and find the price points for that item that generate the most interest. If you’re not using a barcode system, chances are you’re putting in more work than you need to be doing.

How Do Barcodes Work?

Barcodes are a visual representation of a specific product number. Each digit within the product number is given the same amount of space within the barcode. Each number also has a unique pattern of black and white stripes for the scanning computer to recognize consisting of two white stripes and two black stripes. The size of the stripes will then communicate to the computer through the chosen type of barcode scanner or reader what the product being purchased is. It then accesses the product profile in the computer, adds the product price to the receipt, and you’ve just saved a ton of time.

There Are Different Barcode Readers You Can Use

Depending on what kind of company you are will likely determine what kind of barcode scanner you will want to have when checking items out for your customers.

Pen readers.
These are perfect for the small business owner that has a limited amount of items. A light from the pen reader transmits waveform data to the computer to tell it what product is being purchased.

Laser scanners.
These are the most common barcode readers you’ll see. These act much like a pen reader, but they encompass more space. Lasers are used on those scanning trays you see at major stores and many small businesses will use a handheld model to scan barcode data.

CCD scanners.
Whereas lasers and pen readers utilize one light source to interpret data, CCD scanners use multiple light sources and the data is transmitted to the computer through the measurement of changes in ambient light sources.

Camera readers.
Instead of interpreting data based on waveforms, a camera reader will take an actual picture of the barcode and send that to the computer for interpretation. This creates a more accurate scanning process because it is based on an image instead of an interpretation of light sources.

Omnidirectional scanners.
If you have a high amount of customer traffic, you may wish to consider this powerful scanner. It can even put together data from broken or incomplete bar codes based on the products that are in your system!

Have You Considered 2D Barcodes?

2D barcodes are cropping up everywhere, including on signs, posters, and websites because more data can be encoded into the barcode. A product with a 2D barcode, for example, could be scanned by a smartphone barcode reader and take that person to the product’s primary website. It can help consumers compare prices, see what kind of quantity is available, and even access reviews of the product. This kind of barcode is perfect for businesses that may have one or two products at a mass retailer.

Barcodes help companies access data more efficiently and give consumers more overall value with the data that is encoded with them. How could barcodes change your business or products for the better?

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