How do Barcodes work?


I think it’s fair to say that, as consumers, we take barcodes and its importance for granted. It’s something we see everyday, whether it’s in a supermarket, on your online delivery package, on your boarding pass or when renting a car. However, barcodes are more than just lines and spaces on individual products. Barcode scanning and reading systems help business’ track and identify a huge amount of information, which in turn, increases productivity and efficiency. In addition to that, it creates a multitude of benefits for business’, including:

  • Better accuracy – Depending on a barcode to process data is far more accurate than relying on manually-entered data, which is usually prone to errors.
  • Data is readily available - Because of the processing speed, information about inventory levels or sales is available in real time.
  • Improved inventory control - Being able to scan and track inventory yields a much more accurate count, as well as a better calculation of inventory turn. Companies can hold less inventory when they know how soon they will need it..
  • Versatility - Barcodes can be used for any kind of data collection, from stock control to manufacturer information. Furthermore, as barcodes can be attached to almost any surface, its diversity of products is unlimited.

  • The first ever barcode appeared on the back of a packet of Wrigley’s chewing gum in 1974 in Ohio, USA. And now today, you’ll see small business’ as well as the biggest corporations in the world like Amazon and Walmart using barcodes and scanners. It could easily be said that, Amazon and Walmart wouldn't be as successful as they are today if it weren't for barcodes and scanners.
    Barcode types: There are two types of barcode (with many variations): 1D and 2D. The 1D barcode, also known as a linear barcode is the most visually recognizable barcode, known as the UPC (universal product code) and EAN and can hold any type of text information. In contrast, 2D barcodes are a lot more profound and can include more information in the code, such as pricing, stock levels, image etc. Because barcode scanners vary and include diverse capabilities, some are better suited for certain industries due to reading distance and to work volume capacity.

  • Pen-type Reader: Pen barcode readers are shaped like small wand-type sticks that resemble a small pen. The pen-style barcode reader consists of an LED light and a photodiode at the tip.
  • Laser Scanner: works similarly to a Pen-type Reader but uses a laser beam. Laser scanners are available in wired scanners, wireless scanners, handheld scanners and mobile scanners.
  • Camera-based Reader: Is a reader installed with camera and image processing techniques in the reading of barcodes. These barcode scanners are ideal for industries such as logistics, warehousing etc.
  • Omni-Directional Barcode Scanner: highly advanced and very efficient in decoding badly printed, crumpled, and even torn barcodes on products. These scanners are best used in retail and supermarket industries.

  • Interesting barcode facts:


    Science industry – Researchers have placed tiny barcodes on bees to track the insect’s mating habits.

    Shipping industry – Federal Express, the package shipping giant, is probably the world’s largest user of barcode technology.

    Health industry– Hospital patients now wear barcode ID bracelets.


    Now that you know how barcodes work, you shouldn't have any issues finding the correct barcode scanner for your company