In recent years, Finale Inventory has been in talks with many prospective customers interested in using a mobile barcode scanner in their warehouse. Most customers contact us when their online sale volume has significantly increased over a short period of time, but they do not have a solution in place to help them manage their inventory and order fulfilment.
When in this position, prospective customers are usually trying to react quickly so that they can make money, fulfil requests, and keep their business running smoothly. When they contact Finale Inventory then, our first and main question for them is always, ‘Why do you want to leverage a mobile barcode scanner for your warehouse?”
In this post, we’ll answer this question by listing the top five reasons you should leverage a barcode scanner in your warehouse for future success.
The Typical Answers
When prospective customers are asked to think about why they should leverage a barcode scanner, the typical answers we hear fall under these two broad categories:
- “My friend’s company is using barcoding scanners in their warehouse.”
- “Barcode scanners are high tech. I am not 100% sure what the scanning will do for my warehouse, but I know I need to do something to move away from pencil and paper.”
These answers are, of course, a little vague, but they capture the overall feeling of implementing a barcode scanner for your warehouse. However, to manage expectations of what barcode scanners can and cannot do, we strive to listen to our customers’ points and then try to articulate the benefits of a barcode scanner for them. This allows the prospective customer to make a proper assessment of whether or not barcode scanning would be applicable to their inventory application.
It is important to note that no matter who the customer is, Finale Inventory can ensure that the following five reasons are always excellent answers to why you should leverage a barcode scanner in your warehouse:
1. It’s Easier to Manage Your Inventory
When keeping track of inventory manually, many problems can arise: handwriting can get ruined, papers can get lost, data can be copied down wrongly leading to mistakes that can be missed, and more. When these things happen, it opens your business up to some serious repercussions. For most multichannel e-commerce sellers, the cost of inventory is the largest expense item and what leads to most financial woes. The more products you have, the more likely it is for things to get lost in the shuffle of everyday business. When this happens, you can end up losing products, miscalculating product amounts, and ruining data counts, which can result in one thing: losing money.
When using a barcode system, then, you can kiss all these problems and more goodbye. Keying numbers and keeping track of certain data becomes easier than ever when going digital with a barcode scanner system. Barcoding systems are always used with inventory management software, which means all the necessary inventory information you need already exists in the easily-accessible cloud. Every stock operation conducted with the barcode scanner will be quickly stored in the cloud as most scanning solution sync data via Wi-Fi.
2. It Improves Picking Accuracy and Decreases Costs
Managing inventory for a business of any size usually means that you must process hundreds or thousands of orders in a day, which means human error is a drawback you usually can’t avoid. With a barcode system, however, you can significantly improve the picking accuracy and decrease downstream costs when an order has been incorrectly packed and shipped.
There are high costs in terms of time and money when an unhappy customer receives an incorrect shipment. A customer service team member needs to resolve the issue with the disgruntled customer to de-escalate any tensions that will undoubtedly arise usually by paying for the return postage for the product. From here, the warehouse needs to receive the shipment, process the return, and return the product back to inventory while ensuring the customer receives their refund, store credit, or an alternative compensation option.
Additionally, if the product was bought on Amazon, eBay, or another online marketplace, there is a chance your product listing may receive negative feedback which may negatively impact future sales. A barcode scanner can help you avoid each of these troublesome scenarios so that your business and your customers don’t lose time or money.
3. It Improves Warehouse Efficiency
When you have a large warehouse with hundreds or thousands of items to keep track of, finding in-demand products in a timely manner can become a daunting task. Things can easily get lost or misplaced, which can slow down business flow and lead to poor customer satisfaction. Modern barcode scanning system can greatly assist warehouse pickers by directing users to the correct bins or shelves to find the correct items right when they need them.
Most small businesses tend to start with discrete picking, also known as picking orders one by one. This fulfilment process usually involves printing out paper pick lists for each order, using the barcode scanner to pick items for one order at a time, packing and shipping that order, then moving on to the next pick list on the printed stack. The advantage of discrete fulfilment is straightforward and easy to adopt, but simplicity comes at a major cost in fulfilment efficiency. The larger your business, the less helpful this approach will be, but the principle can be expanded.
As order volumes grow, companies typically migrate to a batch picking process, where similar orders are grouped together in batches. With this process, many companies leverage barcode scanners to guide the users where to go and how many items they need to scan to fulfil multiple orders in a single batch.
In short, a barcode scanner can greatly improve warehouse efficiency for any sized business, making it an excellent addition to help improve your business practice overall.
4. It Ups Security
Your inventory requires the utmost protection because, without it, you really don’t have a business. If your products are lost or stolen, it means more than just wasted money and time: it also means that you won’t have what your customers are looking for when they’re looking for it, which can cause them to take their business elsewhere.
If this happens enough times it could ruin the reputation of your business as a whole, losing you money and customers altogether. Thankfully, implementing an inventory management software with barcode system can take care of all of this and more. Barcode technology actually helps lower the risk of mistakes by tightening security. It offers a totally traceable and auditable way of keeping track of your items no matter what happens to them or where they may end up. The barcode scanners log every scanning operation by a user with a timestamp providing the warehouse manager and business with complete visibility. With this extra security, it lowers the likelihood of theft, loss, and liability as well as ensures that should the worst happen that the problem will be solved quickly and efficiently.
5. It Provides Product Traceability
If your products have a unique identifier, barcode scanning is a must from the start. The inventory complexity compounds when trying to keep track of lot numbers or serial numbers. Modern inventory management solutions make it easy to keep track of per-stock-unit information from the start (receiving or manufacturing) to finish (shipping the products). This information is permanently recorded in the system, allowing the company the ability to easily access the unique identifiers.
Check out these two scenarios to glean a bit more understanding:
- If you sell electronics online, recording the serial number is important for providing a warranty for your products. Recording the serial number of the product to the customer and sales order is the only way to determine the product was purchased by the customer and still under warranty. Most serial numbers are a long combination of text and numbers, so tracking the number is almost exclusively conducted by scanning the serial number barcode.
- If you sell medical supplies, you may be required to record lot numbers for regulatory compliance documentation. Recording the lots for each order is critical in the event of a recall. In this situation, companies are able to quickly look up information in the inventory software and identify every customer who received a specific lot.
Due to the utmost importance of accuracy and traceability, many companies leverage a barcode scanner to record the lots.
These five reasons why you should leverage a barcode scanner in your warehouse are useful in improving productivity, sales, and more in businesses of all sizes. As you continue to manage your business and inventory, utilising these simple tips can make management easier and more streamlined. In the end, proper inventory management of a business is what makes it tick, grow, and ultimately thrive. We hope these five tips help your business and your inventory continues to grow.
Related: 8 Tips to Increase Amazon Sales