A Barcode is an optical representation of data related with the Object, with which it is attached and can be read by a Machine. Earlier Barcodes consisted of parallel lines of different widths and spacing, which was representing data systematically. Nowadays Barcodes are made in the forms of Dots, Rectangles, Hexagons and such other two dimensional geometric patterns. The machine that can read Barcode is an Optical Scanner and is called Barcode Readers. Earlier Scanners were specially designed according to need of the data to be read. Presently Scanner and Software for Interpretation of Data are available on portable devices like printers and smart phones.
Barcodes are most commonly used in automated supermarket checkout systems, but they are prominently used in tasks classified as AIDC (Automatic Identification and Data Capture).
In point-of-sale management, barcode systems can provide detailed up-to-date information on the business, accelerating decisions and with more confidence.
- Fast-selling items can be identified quickly and automatically reordered
- Slow-selling items can be identified, preventing inventory build-up
- The effects of merchandising changes can be monitored, allowing fast-moving, more profitable items to occupy the best space
- Historical data can be used to predict seasonal fluctuations very accurately
- Items may be reprised on the shelf to reflect both sale prices and price increases
- This technology also enables the profiling of individual consumers, typically through a voluntary registration of discount cards. While pitched as a benefit to the consumer, this practice is considered to be potentially dangerous by privacy advocates
- Besides sales and inventory tracking, barcodes are very useful in logistics and supply chain management
- When a manufacturer packs a box for shipment, a Unique Identifying Number (UID) can be assigned to the box
- A database can link the UID to relevant information about the box; such as order number, items packed, qty packed, destination, etc
- The information can be transmitted through a communication system such as Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) so the retailer has the information about a shipment before it arrives
- Shipments that are sent to a Distribution Center (DC) are tracked before forwarding. When the shipment reaches its final destination, the UID gets scanned, so the store knows the shipment's source, contents, and cost