Barcodes are so mysterious, aren’t they? Just one little scan with a red line and suddenly you have a bunch of information on a screen about that product’s price, description, location, etc. How does a little barcode store so much information?
The truth is that it doesn’t. That’s right, you heard it here – most barcodes you scan contain no information about the products they’re on. Zip, zilch, nada. There’s a common misconception that barcodes actually do have all of the information that appears on a computer screen when they’re scanned.
Something I read in the article, “Barcode Scanner Software Provides Incredible Efficiency,” made me think about this topic and urged me to set the record straight. The author said, “Barcodes store information in a way that computers can read.”
It’s true that the PDF 417 type of barcode actually contains detailed information that is read by a computer when it’s scanned. But PDF 417 barcodes, which are sometimes referred to as two-dimensional barcodes, are fairly uncommon. They’re mostly used by delivery companies, like DHL, FedEx and UPS. They look kind of like a snowy TV screen.
The vast majority of barcodes, however, don’t contain any information about products. They only contain a reference number for a computer to go into its database and find the information it’s looking for. This is true of UPCs, EANs, RSSs and other barcode types.
Hopefully barcodes aren’t so mysterious anymore.
Barcode software is a great tool for inventory management. Be sure to check out Fishbowl to see how inventory barcode software can benefit your company.