How can QR codes be used for inventory management instead of barcodes?

QRCodes are also a type of barcode, commonly referred to as a 2D barcode. While ‘traditional’ barcodes are referred to as liner barcodes. QRCodes can do everything that a standard barcode can AND some more, by that I mean QRCodes can contain much more than simple alpha numeric characters that barcodes do. Inventory tracking was the original purpose for QR codes back in the early nineties. Initially, this technology was only for large corporations, but since almost everyone can scan them via smartphone nowadays/ Quick Response codes are also a good fit for smaller businesses, e.g. rental businesses, or tracking IT equipment.

Bar codes are typically used with software simply to populate a field (saves keystrokes). QR codes are similar in that they populate an internet link on a device. The key is the software being used to make transactions…if you can replace “scan barcode” with “scan QR code”, then you might get somewhere (can redirect you to a contact, file, web page or app link etc). Barcode devices usually are transaction capable, so you are scanning a product bar code, then entering data on the device, then perhaps scanning additional data…location, etc. The devices are programmed to emulate a series of transactions, so you can do these on the device and not at a keyboard.

The ‘glue’ for any inventory tracking system is the label reader, and for QRCodes it really gets exciting if you have a smart device with a camera (ie iPhone etc) since you can embed URL’s in them – even internal inventory items can have url’s to their tracking software etc. I envision that QR codes could be used to take people to a site with your product but that software would still need some transactional functionality (to add or subtract from inventory). I would think that it would require a lot of work to link each item, to a specific item “page” on a site but it is doable.

The slight downside to QRCodes is that typical inventory warehouses are filled with linear barcode readers, and so a major upgrade cost will be involved if the readers are to be replaced with more capable ones. I am not aware of any survey done that speaks about how well QRCode adoption has been in terms of warehouse compatibility with barcode types. And the main disadvantage to this is that bar code scanning is pretty fast and can be done from long distances – using laser scanners.

There are a number of free and paid online services where you can create generic QR Codes. RetailCore creates instant and hassle-free QR and barcode that can be scanned by any device available in the market.

If you decide to go with QR you may need to make a few different decisions:

1) Which reader you want to be able to scan your code
2) Which reporting services you want, and thus which generator to use
3) If you’re willing to pay for more advanced reporting

Author: admin