Barcodes play a crucial role in our modern economy in so many different ways. They have revolutionised the world we live in today by making our everyday lives simpler, easier and more efficient than ever before. Yet, we barely notice the barcodes that cross our paths on a daily basis. In our fast paced modern lives, the time and money saved through its use has allowed retail businesses to thrive and serve customers much more effectively and efficiently. Barcodes have also expanded far beyond its uses in retail, allowing us to interact with certain barcodes directly from our smartphones.
Barcodes began as simple, one-dimensional codes that were designed to be used in retailers in order to speed up the sales process. The original barcode standard, known as UPC-A barcodes, are twelve digit codes that were developed in America and still used today. An extension of this barcode was invented for international use and is known as the EAN-13 barcode, one digit longer than UPC codes. Both of these codes have revolutionised the stock take and sales process within retailers and brought about greater efficiency to the retail environment.
In these modern times, millions of goods are being transported throughout the world. Barcodes have made this logistical process of transporting goods as efficient and easy as possible. Goods need to be transported from warehouses to the retailers as well as from warehouse to warehouse, and along its path it needs to be tracked and traced. It is critical that this process is controlled to ensure that there is no theft or loss of products. Traditionally, one-dimensional barcodes are used in this process as they allow stock takers to simply scan the barcode using a hand-held scanner to register the arrival or departure of a product.
A new era for barcodes dawned with the development of the more complex two-dimensional codes. These codes are able to be recognised and scanned by most if not all modern smartphones. They are able to store far more information than a few digits, such as a website address. There are endless ways in which we use these two-dimensional codes in our modern society.
The most popular two dimensional code is the Quick Response (QR) code. These can be recognised by their square shape, made up of black squares juxtaposed against a white background. QR codes have spread throughout retailers and businesses like wildfire. They are used in many of the new payment applications such as Zapper and Snapscan. With these applications, it is possible for clients to purchase items by simply scanning a QR code and paying with the tap of a button. More and more individuals are appreciating the convenience of paying with their smartphones and not having to carry around any cash or cards.
In addition, QR codes are being used to market businesses and provide information to the general public. Businesses can promote specials they are running by placing a QR code with the desired website for customers to scan. Depending on where the QR code is placed, this could be a very effective marketing strategy. QR codes are also being used in the tourism industry to provide visitors with important information about the area they are visiting. You can find QR codes at the entrance to many tourism destinations in South Africa.
The fight against COVID-19
Barcodes have been used very effectively in the fight against COVID-19. QR codes have been used in contact tracing while traditional one-dimensional barcodes have been used in the distribution and tracking of COVID vaccine. Barcodes ensure that the correct vaccines go to the correct vaccination centres, and that the correct vaccine is given to the correct individual. All this is done by simply scanning a barcode on the vaccine vial instead of having to read and manually check each vial of vaccine. Such a system also ensures that no counterfeit vaccines enter the distribution network. Vaccination certificates are also making use of QR codes to give you an individually-linked, unique confirmation of your vaccination status.
Barcodes for your business
Any business looking to get into the retail sector will eventually have to decide how they are going to incorporate barcodes onto their products. Barcodes must be designed such that they are scannable by the standard retail barcode scanner, while also not being intrusive in the design of the product packaging.
Barcoding company Buy Barcodes has catered to the barcoding needs of local businesses for more than a decade, and offer a barcode design service to ensure that your barcodes meet standard requirements. They also supply registered barcodes required by all South Africa retailers. For more information on barcodes and the barcoding process, visit their website: www.buybarcodes.co.za