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Best barcode type to use for inventory management?

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Phil
Owner, Oznium.com

Joined: Feb 11 2003
Posts: 7719


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Post Fri Nov 27, 2009 3:33 pm

I'm new to barcodes, and am trying to figure out the best type to use for printing on inventory labels for my e-commerce shop.

I don't need to store much data at all. It doesn't even have to be alphanumeric. And it will probably be under 15 digits.

I'm debating between 1D and 2D. Which is easier to read? I tend to like 2D better because they look "cooler", and maybe the customer will think they look cooler as well.

It also seems that the 2D barcodes can take up less physical space on the label.

To clarify, Oznium will be the end user of these barcodes.

Going to be sending the factories in China a couple barcode printers, and barcode label stock, as well as a PDF generated by me which they will print when I place a large order.

The products will then only be sold through Oznium's online store, direct to the customer.

The barcodes will help in receiving inventory, doing routine inventories, and mainly help in making sure the customer gets what they order. Its annoying when someone orders a red and they get a blue by mistake. Absent-minded monkeys.

I've got a few barcode scanners on the way and I'll begin testing how easy it is to scan various barcode types.

Code 128 Auto:
User posted image

QR Code:
User posted image

PDF417:
User posted image
Cooper

Joined: Mar 19 2006
Posts: 1770


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Post Fri Nov 27, 2009 4:46 pm

Yay, barcodes ! icon_biggrin.gif

For clarification, are you going to have your ordering system create a 'pull' in the form of a batch of bar codes that the employee filling the order will then have to scan into the system to fulfill and finalize the order for shipping ? Or is this just for employees to query the item with a barcode scanner as the order is pulled manually to verify that he's pulling the right product ?
And will the scanner be wireless so that its carried to the shelves and used to scan items as they're pulled, or will the items be brought back to a central terminal and scanned after the pull ?

My preference is a straight barcode with a -good- wireless scanner that provides a sweeping laser . Also, the barcode number should be printed numerically as well as in code on the label, and consider additionally including any corresponding number you use for inventory other than the barcode like a SKU . Its pretty common for codes to get marred or print incorrectly and keying in the code is a good back-up .

There is a drawback to the sweeping laser in that you have to orient the laser to sweep the whole bar code in one pass in order for it to recognize . There are the 'field' type bar code readers that you see at a lot of cash registers (the guns at the registers, not the table scanners) that produce that sort of wash of laser instead of a sweep . I believe the advantage with these type of scanners, as well as the '2D' optical barcodes, is that you can pull the code regardless of how your product or scanner is oriented .

But, the drawback to these kinds of readers is that you typically need to have the scanner much closer to the code in order to pull it, a matter of inches - as opposed to the sweeping scanners that can pull codes from several feet . Also, since the sweeping scanners produce one solid laser line, you can tell exactly where you're scanning and accurately scan individual items that are very close together, say laid out on a table or held together in one hand .

Picture a handful of LED baggies fanned out like a hand of playing cards; their bar codes are going to be really close together, and the sweeping scanner will allow you to flick the laser across each code sequentially . The 'field' type scanner may fan out over multiple codes and pull a different one than you were intending to scan, resulting in at worst a mispick, or at best a little lost time while you check the scanner and the label to see which one it picked up .

I don't have a lot of experience with the newer style codes, but one thing I'd be curious to experiment with is how easily they resist marring and tearing of the label . The original UPC code is sort of redundant in the sense that its still readable as long as a full pattern exists somewhere, and can have lots of damage horizontally on the label . I don't know if the optical bar codes have that kind of redundancy or if they're more easily rendered unreadable by damage to the label; in either case I think my gripes about the distance limitations and precision of the 'field' type scanners apply to the optical scanners .

Yay, barcodes ! icon_biggrin.gif

User posted image
Industry standard, these things are durable and reliable . icon_biggrin.gif


Cool idea but not practical unless you're doing nothing but scanning for a long period of time . These are great for inventory but if you're going back and forth between scanning items, pulling, organizing, packaging, typing, etc, you will probably prefer a scanner you can set down .


Sleeker more portable version of the first scanner . Lighter and easier to carry in a holster, but the scanner built into these smaller PDAs is a little fussier; it'll require items to be closer and will be less forgiving of problem barcodes, also its tougher to shoot through plastic . If you're going to be keying letters you'll need to use an on-screen keyboard or alt keys which will slow a puller waaay down compared to a scanner with a full alphabetic and numeric keypad .

User posted image
Crap . icon_confused.gif


For the love of God, no . icon_eek.gif
A-Ray

Joined: May 01 2005
Posts: 4062
Location: Volunteer State


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Post Fri Nov 27, 2009 5:34 pm

I had one of those arm scanners while I was at fedex. They are really cool to use, and I can see them working well for you phil.
HoolaKinG

Joined: Apr 24 2003
Posts: 938


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Post Fri Nov 27, 2009 6:40 pm

We had one similar to the first one at Kohl's, but they were entirely touch screen. They were fine for the first year or so, then tended to crap out.
Phil
Owner, Oznium.com

Joined: Feb 11 2003
Posts: 7719


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Post Fri Nov 27, 2009 11:46 pm

This mainly for the shipping person to scan/verify the items with a barcode scanner as the items are pulled off the shelf manually.

For now, the items will most likely be brought back to a central terminal / shipping desk to be scanned and then placed into the appropriate shipping envelope/box.
Brandon

Joined: Jun 04 2003
Posts: 4189
Location: St. Louis, MO


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Post Sun Nov 29, 2009 10:29 am

Code 128. They are very reliable and since you are not storing much data, they are great. I also think that you will find Code 128 is much easier to integrate with since it is a simpler barcode.

We use a scanner similar to the SC-8360 that Cooper posted and it works great for us. Its stationary and has auto turn-on/off, so its entirely hands free.
A-Ray

Joined: May 01 2005
Posts: 4062
Location: Volunteer State


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Post Sun Nov 29, 2009 12:14 pm

Phil wrote:
This mainly for the shipping person to scan/verify the items with a barcode scanner as the items are pulled off the shelf manually.

For now, the items will most likely be brought back to a central terminal / shipping desk to be scanned and then placed into the appropriate shipping envelope/box.


Do you need any new employees? When is the east coast shipping facility in Nashville opening?
kramer13
Oznium Employee

Joined: Jun 20 2004
Posts: 3744
Location: Baltimore, MD


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Post Sun Nov 29, 2009 12:25 pm

WHEN WILL IT STOP.

This is like the 4th or 5th time you've said that.

And the Nashville shipping facility center is set to open in March of 2010. Pretty close!
A-Ray

Joined: May 01 2005
Posts: 4062
Location: Volunteer State


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Post Sun Nov 29, 2009 2:25 pm

kramer13 wrote:
WHEN WILL IT STOP.


NEVER! icon_twisted.gif
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