Barcodes Transform Retail Operations

Barcodes Transform Retail Operations
Date Created: 2009-03-26

Author: Greg Gerber

Retailing has come a long way from the days of computer-controlled cash registers.Now, with the help of infrared scanners, RV dealers can manage inventory, order replacements, ring up sales and credit commissions by simply scanning a single barcode.

Barcodes are, perhaps, the greatest time- and money-saving tool to hit retail stores since the development of the electronic cash register.

Look at the benefits from a single sales transaction. A customer brings a cart containing 12 products to a register. Using a handheld wand, a clerk can capture the name of each product,its SKU number and price. By pressing a single button, the order’s total is calculated and a detailed receipt printed. Transaction time: less than two minutes, including bagging.

The advantages don’t stop there. When the button completing the sale is pressed, the store’s inventory is immediately updated to indicate one less of each SKU. If the inventory on hand drops below a pre-determined threshold, the item is automatically reordered. The transaction is also credited to the proper salesperson, recorded on the books and noted immediately on the daily sales report.

Inventory control

Anyone who has had to stand in an aisle and count inventory knows what a boring, tedious and time-consuming process it can be. While most security firms will still suggest that a physical inventory be conducted several times a year as a way to discourage internal theft, barcoding makes the inventory counting process much simpler.

Here’s why:

  • Because each item has its own unique identifying bar, it’s virtually impossible for one item to be mistaken for another.
  • An employee scanning a barcode can’t record the quantity of one product in a space reserved for another.
  • Counting teams are no longer required because one person can scan the barcode, count the product and enter the count on a numeric keypad.
  • Scanning and entering counts takes less time than writing product numbers on a tablet and manually entering the information into the computer later.
  • Imagine how simple accepting new parts and accessories would be if a parts manager could just open a box, take the items out, scan a barcode, enter the quantity and place them on a hook. No more printing out individual price labels.
  • Need to increase the price of a product? Rather than printing out dozens of price labels and affixing them to individual items, just scan a barcode, enter the new price and print a new label for the shelf.

People control

Not only can barcodes be used to track and record inventory, they can be used to monitor staff as well.

Create a barcode for each employee and you’ll make clocking in and out a breeze. Require an employee barcode for each transaction and you’ll be able to track down problems without investing a lot of time researching cash register errors.

Barcodes can improve service efficiency by allowing staff to “clock in and out” of each work order, and each technician can be billed separately based on his level of training or expertise.

Attaching barcodes to employee name badges or ID cards allows dealerships to control access to sensitive areas, like document control centers.

Some RV dealers are developing reward programs that offer benefits to customers based on the amount of business they do each year. Giving customers a “membership card” with a barcode on the back allows staff to track every time a customer buys something from the dealership or brings a unit in for service.

Worth the investment

The costs associated with implementing a barcode inventory control system are often worth the investment when factoring in staff time and the costs associated with data entry errors.

Dealers must purchase special equipment capable of printing, reading and storing barcode information.

Many times,software and computer hardware firms offer bundles designed to work together for seamless integration with your current dealer management system.

There is also a one-time cost to prepare the retail store and shelves for barcodes. Each SKU needs a tag affixed to a shelf or hook indicating the part name, SKU number, price and other internal control information.

When implementing a system, dealers will need to print barcode labels for all stocked products and physically affix them to the appropriate bins or hooks.However, most products now ship from factories and warehouses with barcode labels on packages.

Many dealership management software programs are already set up to accept data gleaned from barcodes.

Even Quickbooks can be adapted to understand barcodes when ringing up sales.

Barcoding is no longer a luxury technology for big box retailers and high-tech firms. It’s a user friendly tool that can save money, increase efficiency and improve customer service.

Five Advantages to Barcoding Inventory

According to the staff at Barcoding, Inc., there are five distinct advantages to implementing a barcoding system at any RV dealership. They are:

  • Speed – A barcode label of 12 characters can be wanted in approximately the same time it takes a keyboard operator to make two keystrokes.
  • Accuracy – For every 1,000 characters typed by a keyboard operator, there are an average of 10 data entry errors. With optical character reader technology (like the equipment that reads numbers off checks), there is one error in every 10,000 reads. With wands, a barcoding system approaches one error in every 3 million characters and with laser technology, the error rate approaches one in every 70 million entries.
  • Data Integrity – Mistakes can happen with any data entry system, but barcode technology can substantially reduce errors. With keyboard data entry, there are 10,000 errors for every 3.4 million characters entered. With optical character readers, that number drops to 300. Barcoding reduces the error rate to just one.
  • Ease of Implementation – Operators of bar code scanners can learn to use the equipment effectively in less than 15 minutes. System costs are lower than other means because of the existence of interfacing hardware and software.
  • Cost Effectiveness – Barcoding has a demonstrated payback period of 6 to 18 months. A barcode wand can be purchased for as little as $140. Printing equipment to create barcodes is less expensive than similar equipment for magnetic stripes. Barcode labels can be used in harsh environments where there are extreme temperatures and dirt.