This is Why Your Small Business Needs a Barcode Inventory Management System

June 22, 2023

Small businesses need a well-oiled inventory process to grow. Learn how a barcode inventory management system can transform your business.

As a small business owner, you're probably juggling a million things at once, from trying to build a customer base to the never-ending challenge of keeping tabs on your inventory. However, the greatest hurdle lies in the cost of incorporating digital systems to help streamline these processes. This challenge adds to the complexity and makes the prospect seem financially unattainable for you as an entrepreneur.

This is Why Your Small Business Needs a Barcode Inventory Management System

Efficiency in a small business is key, underscoring the need for an effective small business barcode inventory system. And it doesn't mean you need to incur a great expense. Modern-day barcode inventory systems for small businesses are not only reliable but also budget-friendly, so you get to save money in the long term.

This guide explores the benefits of barcode systems for small businesses and outlines how to get started. So, keep reading to learn more about managing your business's inventory with barcoding systems for small businesses.

What are barcodes for inventory?

Every business has products in the warehouse that need tracking and easy identification for efficient operation. This is where the barcode comes into play.

Think of a barcode for inventory as a special code that gives each item in a business's inventory a unique identity. It consists of a series of parallel lines and numbers; when scanned, the details, like the product's name, price, and quantity, are instantly linked to a digital database.

In an inventory scanning system, there are two types of barcodes. Each has its specific format and purpose.


Also known as a linear barcode, a one-dimensional barcode encodes data in vertical lines and spaces that vary in width. You can find 1D barcodes on most manufactured products or shipping labels. Each SKU (Stock Keeping Unit), unique to the manufacturer, has a specific pattern. The space between the black lines of the barcode indicates the product.

As your business grows, linking barcodes to inventory becomes essential. Even the most minor differences in SKU will get detected with a unique pattern. However, while 1D barcodes are efficient for encoding simple data, they have limits regarding the amount of information they can store.


In a 2D barcode, data is encoded in dots and shapes. The distinctive feature of 2D barcodes is their ability to store larger amounts of information. As a result, they are versatile for encoding complex data, including text, numbers, and even images.

One of the most common 2D barcodes is the QR code. When scanned with a smartphone, it opens up access to company information and product SKUs. Moreover, a QR code can also link to images, making them ideal for marketing.

Benefits of a barcode inventory management system

A barcode inventory management system is a set of tools that incorporate barcode reading and computer software to track and manage inventory. These barcodes are mostly printed on labels and attached to items, allowing swift scanning with a reader or smartphone.

A digital inventory management system tracks every product scanned. A proper platform will offer a user-friendly interface you can access through your computer or smartphone to get real-time insights into the location, quantity, and movements of each item in your warehouse.

Barcoding systems for inventory can be a game-changer for business owners looking to streamline their warehouse process. Below are some benefits to expect.

1. Useful insights

A barcode scanning software goes beyond simple counting. It also provides data that can be used to identify product growth trends. This real-time insight is an asset to small business owners, enabling them to make informed stock levels and inventory management decisions.

As a result, businesses can align their strategies with emerging trends, ensuring continued growth and success. In essence, the inventory scanning system transforms into a strategic planning instrument.

2. Fewer errors

Many business owners do not see the need for an automated inventory process at the beginning of their entrepreneurial journey. However, as their business grows and orders increase, the inefficiencies of manual stock-keeping gradually become clearer.

Manual stock-keeping is time-consuming and error-prone. Tracking your inventory position with spreadsheets and physical files is a sure way toward inaccurate stock counts, costly delays, inefficient resource utilization, and even losses due to inventory obsolescence.

Barcode scanning software can help automate the entire inventory journey, from when a product enters your warehouse to when you dispatch it to customers. Scanning the barcode at every stage ensures the right quantities are received, stored, moved, and dispatched. That way, you can spend less time “fire-fighting” and more strategizing on ways to grow your business.

3. Customer Retention

Providing the best customer experience is key to success for any growing business. So, the last thing you want is to run out of a product right when you need to sell. An effective barcode inventory system mitigates this risk by warning you when your stock reaches a pre-set minimum threshold. That way, you can reorder items on time and maintain healthy stock levels.

A barcode system can also reduce inaccuracies in order fulfillment by automating how you assign items to orders. Therefore, you can meet your customers' expectations for timely, error-free deliveries and maintain their long-term satisfaction and loyalty.

How to set up a barcode inventory system for a small business

An inventory management system is only as good as how it is set up. Many businesses invest in a comprehensive solution but do not unlock the benefits they envisioned because they missed some critical steps in the setup process.

Setting up a barcode inventory system for your small business requires a strategic and customized approach. Here are the crucial steps for a successful setup, from selecting SKUs to integrating efficient barcode scanning software.

1. Define SKUs and UPCs

Stock-keeping units (SKUs) act as internal identifiers unique to your business, providing detailed product information. They offer flexibility for customization and can be tailored to your specific needs. Universal Product Codes (UPCs), on the other hand, are standardized universal codes recognized by any company.

A properly designed system for SKU allocations is critical because it defines how your digital inventory management system will classify products. For example, suppose you sell various types of festive decorations. In this case, you can allocate SKU numbers that start with one as balloons, two as ribbons, and three as fabrics. That way, your inventory management system can aggregate each category and give you a clear picture of the quantities in stock.

While SKUs are for internal use, the more standardized UPC system facilitates smooth product exchange and scanning at point-of-sale. With well-defined UPCs, you can ensure the items you receive from vendors are precisely the ones you need.

Properly selecting and understanding SKUs and UPCs ensures seamless integration with your barcode system and lays the foundation for accurate inventory management.

2. Determine stock levels and corresponding barcode types

Assessing your inventory and choosing a barcode that best fits your needs is important before implementing an inventory barcode system for your small business. The right barcode system will depend on your business model.

For instance, a simple 1D barcode system, often included in budget-friendly software packages, would be ideal for limited SKUs. It efficiently tracks basic product details and is perfect for smaller shops with a manageable inventory.

Meanwhile, a 2D barcode like a QR code will do for a growing business with larger, ever-changing stock. It accommodates broader product ranges and facilitates smoother integration with suppliers. While 2D systems might cost slightly more upfront, the long-term benefits of accurate data and scalability outweigh the initial expense.

Choosing the right barcode type from the get-go will give you the maximum return on your investment. So, consider current needs and future growth aspirations when making your decision.

3. Choose the right inventory scanning system

After selecting the barcode type and affixing barcodes to items, look for suitable barcode scanning software for your needs and budget.

For instance, if you're starting with simple 1D barcodes, opt for budget-friendly software with basic inventory tracking. If your business is expanding and you're using 1D and 2D codes, explore software that can generate purchase orders or handle basic sales functions.

Remember, the right software should go beyond just tracking numbers. Look for bonus features like mobile compatibility for on-the-go scanning, user-friendly interfaces, or even integrations with your existing e-commerce platform.

Barcodes for inventory work for small businesses

Today, small businesses face numerous challenges that can impede their success, and one of the most apparent is inventory management. Fortunately, digital inventory management systems have evolved and are now more accessible and affordable than ever. A proper barcode scanning system can save you from the negative impacts of manual stock-keeping so you can focus more on unlocking more sales and growing your business.

Britecheck's barcode system for small businesses can transform your stock-keeping from a chaotic, error-prone process to a well-oiled machine that saves money and keeps your customers happy.

To streamline the efficiency of your business operations, take the initiative to explore the benefits of a simple barcode inventory system designed to meet the specific needs of your business.

Contact us for a quote, and let's transform your inventory management process with the best barcode system for small businesses available today.