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How do Barcodes Work? | A Guide To Answer Your Questions

So, how do barcodes work?

Are you tired of manually managing your inventory? Create unlimited unique codes; it’s easy and compatible with all scanners.


What is a barcode and How do barcodes work?

A barcode is a series of black and white lines that the scanner can read.

Barcodes are applied to products for stores, warehouses, or invoices to identify them quickly. Click To Tweet

They have many uses, including identifying products at retail store checkouts.

What is a barcode scanner? 

A barcode scanner is a device that reads and decodes the information in a bar code. Traditional scanners have four components: 

  • A light source is helpful when reading barcodes.
  • A photoconductor is a device that converts light into electricity.
  • A barcode decoder is a device that reads the data encoded in the bars and spaces of a traditional UPC or EAN, also known as linear (1D) codes.

Retailers can track inventory and process transactions without human intervention with barcode scanners. This helps them with data collection processes by reducing errors.

how do barcodes work


How do barcodes work?

A barcode is a series of black and white lines that machines can read to determine what it means.

In understanding how barcodes work, the black and white bars in a barcode represent text characters that the scanner will translate into an understandable format for your point of sale system.


Types of barcodes

In understanding how do barcodes work, it’s essential to know their type. The 1D or linear form has one row with alternating black and white squares; the 2D (or matrix) type includes rows in both directions.

1-dimensional (1D) barcodes

Barcodes are black and white lines that store information like type, size, or color. These bar codes are on the top of universal product code (UPC) labels, which allow packages to be tracked by package delivery service providers such as UPS, FedEx, USPS, and Canada Post.

2-dimensional (2D) barcodes

2D barcodes are more complex than 1D because they include a wide range of information, including price and inventory levels. The Lightspeed Retail POS is compatible with several wireless scanners that support 2D codes.


The benefits of using barcodes

Barcodes initially sped up the sales process, but they also have other benefits.

Improved accuracy

barcodes are much better than having an associate enter the data manually when it comes to accuracy

Real-time data

Data about inventory levels or sales are processed so quickly that they can be retrieved instantaneously.

Reduced training requirements

Employees don’t need much training to use a barcode scanner. It is so easy; point and click.

Better inventory management

Improved accuracy and real-time data mean that retailers can count inventory more quickly, resulting in better estimation of turnover.

Low cost of implementation

Implementing barcodes is quick and straightforward, which will allow retailers to save money in many ways. For example, transactions are faster, so a scanner can track inventory more accurately.

how do barcodes work


What is a universal product code (UPC)?

The universal product code (UPC) is a barcode that helps identify in-store items. The UPC consists of two parts: a series of black bars and a 12-digit number located below it. So, how do barcodes work like UPC?

Parts of a UPC

A company must apply to GS1 US for a UPC to use it on their products.

When a company applies for GS1 membership, they are assigned an identification number that becomes the first six digits of their UPC. This is how all products from this manufacturer can be identified.

The following five UPC digits are unique numbers that identify each product. This person should be responsible for issuing new numbers and ensuring they’re not used more than once. If a company discontinues an item, it’s essential to stop using its old code.

Most consumer products have several variations, like size or color. This means that each variation needs its item number to keep track of it.

An UPC’s check digit is the number that comes after the first digit of a 12-digit number. It’s found by adding and multiplying several numbers from the code to scan properly when scanned at checkout. If not, you won’t be able to check your product through without having an error message pop up.


What’s the purpose of a UPC?

The Universal Product Code (UPC) was created to make grocery store checkouts faster, but it has now found its way into retail stores and warehouses. The UPCs are used primarily for inventory tracking purposes.


The advantages of a UPC

There are many advantages to using UPCs. They make scanning items in stores much faster, and since they encode the price of an item, store employees don’t have to input that information manually.

With a UPC, you can see when there is not enough inventory in the store or warehouse.

UPCs are great for tracking down customers who have purchased a product with an issue. When there is an error with the item, merchants can contact those individuals and recall their purchase.


UPCs vs. SKUs

A UPC is not the same as an SKU. They share some similarities, but they are different animals.

A UPC is a code that identifies any product regardless of its sale. If you buy the same t-shirt online or in person, they will have the same identifying number.

SKUs are different from company to company, which means that even if two stores have the same product in stock, their SKU will be different.

The UPC barcode is the code on the back of a product, whereas SKU stands for Stock Keeping Unit, and it typically appears in stores.

When you search for a product online, using the UPC will help you find it on different retailers. Click To Tweet

The SKU is only used by one business and can’t be found outside that company.

Suppliers and manufacturers can use UPCs to track the inventory they sell. In contrast, SKUs are valuable for merchants because they uniquely follow their inventories lists.

A universal product code (UPC) is a number that identifies products for sale, while SKUs are identifiers of specific variations. When adding inventory to your Lightspeed POS system, you can use either UPCs or SKUs, depending on the type of items being sold and how they will be used in-store.