Bar Code is an optical machine-readable representation of data, which shows certain data on certain products. Originally, barcodes represented data in the widths (lines) and the spacings of parallel lines, and may be referred to as linear or 1D (1 dimensional) barcodes or symbologies. They also come in patterns of squares, dots, hexagons and other geometric patterns within images termed 2D (2 dimensional) matrix codes or symbologies. Although 2D systems use symbols other than bars, they are generally referred to as barcodes as well. Barcodes can be read by optical scanners called barcode readers, or scanned from an image by special software.
In point-of-sale management, the use of barcodes can provide very detailed up-to-date information on key aspects of the business, enabling decisions to be made much more quickly and with more confidence. For example:
- Fast-selling items can be identified quickly and automatically reordered to meet consumer demand,
- Slow-selling items can be identified, preventing a build-up of unwanted stock,
- The effects of repositioning a given product within a store 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 repriced 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 shipping/receiving/tracking
When a manufacturer packs a box with any given item, a Unique Identifying Number (UID) can be assigned to the box.
A relational database can be created to relate the UID to relevant information about the box; such as order number, items packed, qty packed, final 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 being forwarded to the final destination. When the shipment gets to the final destination, the UID gets scanned, so the store knows where the order came from, what's inside the box, and how much to pay the manufacturer.