Barcode Quality: Why is it Important?
The inconvenience and aggravation of non-working barcodes at retail checkout is how many people understand the importance of barcode quality. People are also generally aware that barcodes log store sales and drive inventory replenishment. At this level, barcodes also play an important role in marketing, providing sales data on specific products in specific locales. This data also validates new product acceptability for market research.
Coupon barcodes enable sales tracking down to specific zip codes and demographics. Want to test a new product for teenage girls? Put a coupon in a teen-focused periodical and track where it is scanned at point-of-sale. Post a QR Code (pointed to a location-unique webpage) at a teen gathering spot, and collect the data.
Non-working barcodes in consumer retail can cost a brand owner and retailer a lot of money in direct sales losses as well as indirect loss of sales through customer dissatisfaction, but this is a minor inflection compared to other more serious consequences. Barcodes do much more important work than avoiding consumer disappointment and erosion of store, brand, or product loyalty.
Barcodes do important work in manufacturing. Like retail inventory monitoring, factory ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) systems rely on barcodes to track inventory levels of critical parts, subassemblies, and raw materials in processes from automotive and aerospace assembly to medical device manufacturing and drug formulation. This is more than just tracking stuff out and stuff in. For example, pharmaceuticals rely on precise uniformity of upstream raw materials, to assure product safety and efficacy. Slight variations can be hazardous. Even slight differences require a different barcode, which an ERP system will flag.
Recently the FDA recalled an important aortic balloon pump that overheats and shuts down. It has caused over 200 complaints, four injuries, and one death. The barcode pinpoints where these devices are and who has them. Implants are also barcoded, and for the same reason.
When things go wrong, barcodes can save the day—and lives. Laser-etched barcodes on jet engine fan blades identify the part and its batch or lot number. If an engine fails, that lot number can be used to locate other potential failures before they happen. Elevator barcodes lookup service and maintenance records. Likewise rail car brakes and myriad other critical systems.
Barcodes play a critical role in anti-counterfeiting: making sure the food item or drug you are receiving is genuine. This is a misunderstood but powerful capability of barcodes. While it is relatively easy to photocopy a barcode it is difficult to infiltrate a time-sensitive supply chain with an unexpected product, or an expected product at an unexpected time. Bypassing the supply chain altogether is virtually impossible for the same reasons. A convincing-looking, otherwise correctly marked product will raise suspicion if it shows up unexpectedly at any point in the supply chain journey.
Barcode quality is extremely important, yet easy and inexpensive to test. Verifiers are readily available for all types of barcodes, and a barcode testing service such as Barcode Test LLC makes it easy and affordable.
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John helps companies resolve current barcode problems and avoid future barcode problems to stabilize and secure their supply chain and strengthen their trading partner relationships.