QR Codes vs. Barcodes for Inventory Management: Which Is Better?
April 30, 2023
Tracking inventory is crucial so that you know what is in stock and what you must replenish. With robust inventory management, you can easily track your sales and learn about your best-selling and underperforming items.
A digital system will help you instantly scan item tags for check-ins and check-outs, making them a crucial tool for seamless, efficient inventory management. Most businesses use QR codes or barcodes for tracking inventory.
If you want to adopt one of these two labeling and scanning systems for your inventory management needs, this guide is here to help. We dive into the pros and cons of QR codes vs barcodes and tell you which is better for your needs.
What Is a Barcode?
A barcode or a linear barcode is a one-dimensional code that uses a sequence of black and white bars of varying widths and sizes. It is readable by a barcode scanner and conveys crucial details about a product, such as what it is, its price and stock-keeping unit (SKU).
Barcodes can sometimes be unique if they represent serial numbers and other unique data. But if a barcode represents the product type, all products of the same type will have the same barcode. You can attach a barcode to a product label that you can then stick on the item. Alternatively, you can print a barcode directly onto a product or its packaging.
Barcodes are used worldwide to tag and keep tabs on all kinds of products across industries.
Pros of Using Barcodes for Inventory Management
- Store data about products such as type, cost, SKU, size, style, etc.
- Quick and easy to set up and use
- Inexpensive to print and place on items
- Accurate as long as each item is labeled correctly
- Better than using manual inventory systems that may lead to errors
- Speed up the tracking process
- Reduce manual work
- Limit the need for repeated scanning of multiple items of the same type
- Ensure up-to-date inventory tracking and management
- Can be stacked to extend beyond 25 characters
Cons of Using Barcodes for Inventory Management
- Store only around 8 to 25 characters per single barcode
- Convey limited text-based data about products
- Allow only horizontal and not vertical reading due to one-dimensional design
- Not as secure as some two-dimensional QR codes
- Not always unique, as they can only identify the product type instead of individual products
- Must be scanned only from specific angles, which may require the use of high-contrast scanners
- Cannot convey information if there are issues with damage, distortion, or printing errors
- Need separate tags to accurately track multiple items of the same type
What Is a QR Code?
A Quick Response (QR) code is a two-dimensional square code with seemingly random black shapes and white spaces. It consists of many rows and columns that create a matrix code. It is readable horizontally and vertically and delivers data when scanned.
Nowadays, you will find QR codes everywhere. Not just on retail items but also in newspapers, advertisements, restaurant and bar menus, and myriad things to enhance their functionalities. QR codes are even used to share social media profiles to increase followers.
QR codes can contain a lot of data. In terms of inventory management, you can store and access basic product information with other essential details, like product batch numbers, manufacturing location, place of import, and so on. QR codes on retail items can link consumers to brand websites that contain more information, too.
QR codes are easy to scan with a smartphone app or other dedicated scanners.
Pros of Using QR Codes for Inventory Management
- Store up to 7,089 characters depending on the code’s version and the type of encoding used
- Contain more product information than barcodes of an equal size
- Customizable with colors, images, and logos
- Can include text, images, web links, and other kinds of data
- Have high error correction abilities
- Can be read vertically and horizontally
- Usually readable even when incomplete, slightly erased, dirty, scratched, or damaged in any way
- Enable encryption due to two-dimensional design, making them more secure than barcodes
- Can be up to 10 times smaller than barcodes
- Enable printing of smaller labels that contain more data
- Easier to read than barcodes—QR codes can be scanned from all angles and orientations without having to align the scanner
- Not much room for error due to three levels of built-in error detection
- Easily accessible and readable by different digital devices like scanners and smartphones
Cons of Using QR Codes for Inventory Management
- Unreadable when damaged, torn, distorted, or smudged
- Cannot be read by older scanners
QR Codes vs Barcodes for Inventory Management: Which Is Better?
QR codes and barcodes have pros and cons and are best suited for a range of purposes.
QR codes have greater versatility and better functionality than barcodes. They are the best choice if you need to store a lot of data in such a code. They also ensure better security, error detection and correction, easy reading, and accessibility.
But if your business does not need to store too much data in a scanning code and only needs product type, price, and SKU, simple barcodes will do. Printing and using barcodes is faster and cheaper, so they suit businesses with tight budgets and time constraints.
Nowadays, many QR code asset tracking systems have become very affordable, and implementing them is easier than ever. So if you want to switch from your old, outdated barcode system to a revamped, feature-filled QR code system, you can do so.
You can also use a combination of barcodes and QR codes to maximize their benefits. With QR codes, you can encode more information and get better security, error detection, and accessibility.
Using a barcode alongside a QR code allows you to quickly access basic product details such as item type, price, and SKU. This can maximize efficiency and save time. This is especially useful for thin products like cables and other such items that may prevent the easy reading of QR codes.
Finally, you should choose a digital scanning system that suits your business needs and budget.
How Nest Egg Can Help You With Inventory Scanning and Tracking
Nest Egg is a top-notch barcode and QR code asset-tracking solution that serves various industries. You can use it to scan barcodes and QR codes for inventory management.
Whether you need product serial numbers, contact information, URLs, and other data, Nest Egg eases the QR code scanning and tracking process. It can also scan barcodes through camera and Bluetooth scanners.
Nest Egg’s range of asset-tracking solutions can completely change how you track and manage your inventory and take your business to the next level. Check out the website to learn more about our services, or get in touch with our team of experts for more information.
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