Small Business Snippet: Barcodes

Small Business Snippet: Barcodes

We love barcodes! When new stock arrives and it has barcodes attached, we always do a little happy dance!

Why? I hear you ask! What is it about those little black and white rectangles that fills us with so much joy? Well, there are a number of reasons why it's great to have barcodes on your products, and I'll tell you why in a moment. I'll also walk you through how we add barcodes to items that come into our shops without them.

Why we love barcodes!

  • Inventory & Stock Control: In our shops we use a Zettle point-of-sale system. When a new product comes into the store, we add it to  Zettle, which includes an inventory. When a customer purchases an item, we scan the barcode, which then automatically updates the inventory.
  • Sales Reports: Again, with the Zettle point-of-sale system, each product can be assigned a category. This means we can run sales reports and accurately get a picture of what sells well in the shops. Scanning the barcode means each product goes through the till accurately, giving us meaningful and accurate reports - vital for business planning!
  • Minimises Mistakes: Scanning a barcode is much less likely to result in human error than inputting the price and product details manually.
  • Time Saver: Barcodes on products save us loads of time, especially when it comes to the checking customers out at the counter in the shops.
  • The Website: They work on the back-end of our website too! Really! our Shopify website is now linked with our Zettle point-of-sale, meaning if a product goes out of stock on the shop floor, the website inventory is automatically updated too. Barcodes make this easy and accurate.

As you can see, even for a small retailer like us, barcodes are pretty useful!

how to use barcodes in your small business


So, if you're a small retailer, or a designer/maker and you want to add barcodes to your products or stock, how do you go about it?

Where Do I Get Barcodes:

I'm not gonna lie - this is not my area of expertise! If you are producing products to wholesale or sell on Google, Amazon or Ebay, you will need a unique barcode number, and I believe the only place to purchase these legitimately in the UK is through GS1 UK.

Now, to use in-house, I purchased 'EAN Numbers' from eBay - its basically an Excel sheet with a hundred 13 digit numbers. It only cost a couple of pounds and saved me having to come up with the numbers myself. 

All I do is assign each number to any products that come into the shop that don't have barcodes already on them.

A different number is required for each version of each product e.g. a scarf that comes in blue, pink and red will require a number for each colour.

How Do I Print The Barcodes?

The most important thing when printing barcodes is that the barcode is printed clearly enough for the barcode scanner to pick it up. Fuzzy lines are no good and your barcode scanner will struggle to get a fix on it.

Thermal printers are best, and I've opted for the Brother QL-700 Label Printer, which works like a dream! With a USB adapter it works very well with my MacBook.

When designing your barcode label, you can choose the format that suits your product best and include any details you like. I include the barcode, price, supplier name and product name on mine!

If you want to add barcodes to your products, here are links to the printer, labels and USB adapter I use:

The Brother label printer has plug and play software (P-touch Editor) that is so simple to use; just input your number and it will generate the barcode for you.

Good luck with your barcoding! I hope it makes as big a difference to your small business as it has to mine!



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