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9 warehouse barcode mistakes: advice for managers

Warehouse management

28 March 2018

Barcodes are everywhere, so it can be easy to take just how useful they are for granted. Without barcodes, it’s way more difficult to be able to easily identify the exact SKU that you’re looking at. Without barcodes, it’s easier for mistakes to slip through the net. But with effective warehouse barcoding in place, you’re in a good position to ensure accurate fuflilment every time.


Peoplevox has been around for almost a decade. During that time, we’ve seen a lot of brands face up to challenges as they grow their businesses. Without a doubt, getting barcoding right is one of the things that helps most when it comes to tightening up fulfilment processes. Here are some of the best pieces of advice that I can give if you’re looking to improve the way that your warehouse handles barcodes:


1. It’s never too early to start barcoding


Everyone starts small. Even if you’re running your new e-commerce business out of your parents’ laundry room, you can start barcoding. Get the process established early and it’ll stick, helping you to avoid headaches when you start scaling your brand.


2. Make sure that your SKU code isn’t too long


This applies if you choose to use your SKU codes as barcodes. If they’re over 15 characters, then they won’t show properly when printed. The same goes with hyphens: avoid using them because they elongate the barcode too much. When barcodes are too long, the code won’t match up to what you have registered on the system and you will run into problems.


3. Check that the code matches the product


This might sound obvious, but it’s easy for errors to happen and to slip by unnoticed. Take a second to ensure that your barcodes actually match up to the products that they’re meant to represent. Making a mistake at this stage could lead to you shipping out the wrong product and having mismatched, ineffective inventories. Checking that everything lines up is easy: if you’re still at a stage where you can handle goods-in manually, download our free app for unpacking deliveries from the Play store. If you need a more advanced system, watch the video below to see how Peoplevox handles goods-in.

 


   

 



 4. Selling through marketplaces? Get GS1 barcodes 


If you’re selling through third parties, the best practice is to sign up to become a GS1 member. GS1 distributes barcode values to retailers and manufacturers, ensuring that every single barcode that it creates is unique. Without the guarantee that each code is unique, there’s a chance that the third party reseller might have another product from another company with the same code in their warehouse. Which could, and does, become a major headache.

 

5. Inner cases, outer cases and products each need barcodes


If you receive standard quantities of inner cases and outer cases, stick barcodes on them. This means that you can scan the cases, instead of having to scan each individual product.  This saves a lot of time as goods come into the warehouse, when you’re picking larger quantities or when you need to perform a stock check.

6. Waiting for your WMS before you start? Don’t.


If your products aren’t barcoded but you’re thinking about implementing a warehouse system, don’t wait until it’s fully set up to get the process started. Start labelling the products during the implementation to ensure that you can get the most out of your WMS from day one. If barcoding is low down on your list of priorities, then it will become a pain to get on top of as products cycle through your warehouse.

 


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 7. It's easier if your suppliers barcode for you


Even easier than tasking your warehouse staff to do the legwork; see if your suppliers can deliver your products to you already barcoded. This means that they can be checked, scanned in and put on the racks ready to be sold without any additional admin. Getting warehouse barcoding right before your products arrive at goods-in is a massive time-saver.


8. Watch out for leading zeros

When your barcodes start with a few zeros, they can get dropped. This is particularly an issue if you use Excel to store your inventories. Any numbers that are pasted, or typed, into Excel that begin with zeroes will erase the first few digits of your barcode. Which makes lining up the stock that you have in your warehouse with the information that you have in your inventory ten times harder. If you use Excel, and you’re able to change your barcodes, then stop using zeroes at the start. It’ll make life just that bit easier.  


9. Keep your warehouse barcode process simple


More than anything, remember that simplicity is key. Barcodes exist to help you identify things. They don’t need a lot of information in them. We’ve seen cases where location identifiers have been put in the barcodes. It’s not necessary. Long product descriptions are not necessary. Keep it short, keep it simple and enjoy the benefits of a clean, clear and organised barcoding system.




Read more

If you’re interested in learning more about how to set up a barcoding system in your warehouse, read this blog from our CEO Jonathan Bellwood.