On June 26, 1974, the small city of Troy in Miami County witnessed a groundbreaking moment when the first item marked with the Universal Product Code (UPC) was scanned. Since then, the barcode scanner has undergone several changes and developments to bring us the trusted tool for an accurate inventory flow.
Also read: Do More With Your POS: Stock Management.
A barcode scanner is a reliable and fast tool for scanning large quantities of inventory and for making sales transactions. It reduces the chances of human error and the time required for employee training due to its simple functionality.
Pen or Wand type readers: These types of barcode scanners are formed like a pen and have a LED light at the tip which is carefully moved over the black and white barcode. Pen barcode scanners are the most inexpensive of all the different types of barcode scanners.
Laser barcode scanner: These barcode scanners work just like pen-typed barcode scanners; however, they are more accurate in reading information. Laser barcode scanners can be handheld or mounted for ease of use. They use laser beams to read a barcode and can read a barcode from 15cm - 60cm away.
Change Coupled Devices (CCD): CCD or LED scanners are very popular in Point of Sale applications. They scan by shooting hundreds of LED lights directly at a barcode to measure the voltage of light which is then transformed to computer recognizable data. The limitations of this scanner are that it can only scan a barcode that fits the size of the scanner monitor, and it has to be within 3cm-10cm away from the barcode to scan. It is very accurate but comes with a heavy price tag.
Image barcode scanner: This scanner has a video camera to capture a barcode and uses digital decoding techniques to analyze the image. It makes for much faster transactions as the scanner can read the barcode from any position.
Bluetooth barcode scanners: are wireless devices that depend on Bluetooth technology to give you the freedom to scan data from anywhere without the restriction of cable connections.
Fixed barcode scanners: These types of scanners are permanently mounted on a surface or piece of equipment. Scanning takes place by passing the barcode over the monitor.
The above-mentioned scanners are used to scan one of two types of barcodes.
1D Barcodes: are the linear black and white spaces with different widths and have up to 12 characters. 1D barcodes are widely used and can be ready by laser scanners or camera-based scanners.
2D Barcodes: Unlike the 1D barcode, this barcode contains data in vertical and horizontal patterns. They can have up to 100 characters which allow them to hold more information than 2D scanners.
Choosing the best scanner will require you to consider the following factors:
The first point to consider when choosing a scanner is your budget. If your budget is very low you might have to consider a pen-type scanner, whereas a bigger budget would allow you to buy a Change Coupled Device/LED scanner. If you want accuracy, you’ll have to be willing to pay for it.
You need to know what you will be using the barcode scanner for. For instance, a warehouse with large quantities of inventory will require a scanner that is fast, accurate, and perhaps wireless. Consider how far you would be standing from the items that need to be scanned and how often you’d be using the scanner.
It is very important to ensure that the device you purchase is compatible with the POS software and hardware that you are using. Certain barcode scanners are only compatible with specific software and will not work with any other software.
You should choose a barcode scanner that will be easy and comfortable to use, to ensure smooth transactions.
Barcode scanners make the process of tracking incoming and outgoing inventory smooth, quick, and accurate. It’s just a matter of choosing the correct scanner that will best fit your business needs.