Cracking the Code: Decoding the Magic of Barcode Labels in Supply Chain Efficiency

Efficiency is key in the hustle and bustle of supply chain and inventory management. The barcode label is one of the most powerful tools contributing to this efficiency. Barcode labels have become an inseparable part of modern business operations, streamlining processes and enhancing accuracy. In this blog, we will delve into the various types of barcode labels, their applications, and how they can significantly improve supply chain and inventory management.

Barcode Labels: A Basic Overview

At its core, a barcode label is a unique identifier that holds encoded information. These labels consist of black and white bars that represent data in a machine-readable format. The data can include product details, pricing information, manufacturing dates, and much more. The versatility of barcode labels makes them a crucial component in various industries.

Types of Barcode Labels :

1D Codes

1D Codes
  • UPC(Universal Product Code)

UPC codes are the familiar barcodes found on most consumer products. They are widely used for retail purposes and facilitate quick and accurate product identification at checkout.

  • EAN(European Article Number):

Similar to UPC, EAN codes are prevalent in Europe and other regions. They offer a unique identification system for products and are used in retail and logistics.

  • Code 39

Code 39 is a widely used alphanumeric barcode that is versatile and can encode both letters and numbers. It is popular in industrial and non-retail settings.

  • Code 128

Code 128 is a high-density barcode that allows for encoding more information in a limited space. It is widely used in shipping and logistics.

  • GS1 Databar Stacked

GS1 Databar Stacked is a variation of GS1 DataBar that allows for stacking multiple rows of data. These are compact, vertically arranged labels that efficiently encode product information. These barcodes enable precise tracking of individual items in the supply chain, thus ensuring transparency and accountability.

  • GS1 Databar Expanded

The GS1 Databar Expanded is an extended version of the Databar, allowing for more information to be encoded. It is often used in areas where more data needs to be captured, contributing to traceability in the food and pharmaceutical sectors. It enables comprehensive tracking of products, ensuring adherence to regulatory standards and facilitating quick response in case of recalls or quality issues.

  • ISBN (International Standard Book Number)

ISBN barcodes are specific to books and are used in the publishing industry for easy identification and tracking of books.

  • Postal Barcodes

These barcodes are designed for postal services to facilitate efficient sorting and delivery of mail and packages.

  • Codabar

Codabar is a simple self-checking barcode commonly used in libraries, blood banks, and air freight.

2D Codes

  • QR Code (Quick Response Code)

QR codes have gained popularity for their ability to store a considerable amount of data, including URLs, text, and contact information. They are commonly used for marketing, mobile payments, and inventory tracking.

  • Data Matrix

A Data Matrix is a 2D barcode that can store significant data in a small space. It is utilized in industries where space on the product is limited, like electronics and healthcare.

  • PDF417

PDF417 is a 2D barcode that can store large amounts of data, making it suitable for applications like boarding passes and identification cards.

  • MaxiCode

MaxiCode is a two-dimensional matrix barcode used by courier services such as UPS for sorting and tracking packages.

How Barcode Labels Can Improve Inventory Management

  • Enhanced Accuracy

Manual data entry is considerably prone to errors, leading to discrepancies in inventory records. Barcode labels, when scanned using a barcode scanner, significantly reduce the likelihood of human error, ensuring accurate data entry and inventory tracking.

  • Increased Efficiency

Barcode scanning is a quick and efficient method of capturing data. It minimizes the time and effort required for stocktaking, order processing, and receiving goods, ultimately improving overall operational efficiency.

  • Real-time Visibility

Barcode technology provides real-time visibility into inventory levels. This allows businesses to make informed decisions, prevent stockouts, and optimize stock levels to meet demand effectively.

  • Streamlined Traceability

With barcode labels, it becomes easier to trace the movement of all the products throughout the supply chain. Each stage can be monitored from manufacturing to distribution and retail, providing transparency and traceability.

How to Choose the Right Barcode Label for Inventory Management

  • Understand Your Requirements

Start by understanding your specific inventory management requirements. Consider factors such as the type of products, industry regulations, and the level of detail you need for tracking.

  • Select the Barcode Type

Choose a barcode type based on your business needs. UPC, EAN, and Databar are common for retail, while Code 128 may be suitable for industries requiring high data density.

  • Label Size

Consider the size and material of the barcode label. Factors such as product size and packaging are important.

  • Label Material

Cost and environmental conditions (e.g., exposure to moisture or sunlight) should influence your choice of paper or poly-label material. For labels exposed to harsh conditions, rough handling during transportation or storage, or exposure to the elements, durable labels that resist wear and tear may be necessary.

  • Label Adhesive

Select the right adhesive based on the surface where the label will be applied. Some labels are designed for low temperature, high temperature, and permanent attachment, while others are removable without leaving residue.

  • Label Color

The color of the label can impact scannability. Choose a color that contrasts well with the barcode to ensure accurate and efficient scanning.

  • Barcode Label Software

Invest in reliable barcode label software that aligns with your inventory management system. This software should allow for easy label design, printing, and integration with your existing processes. Explore Labeling Solutions’ range of BarTender® Barcode Labeling Software, the best industry software with a user-friendly interface and comprehensive features.

  • Scanning Equipment

Choose a suitable barcode scanner that matches your operational needs and budget – corded or cordless. Consider factors such as scanning distance, scanning speed, and the environment in which the scanner will be used.


In conclusion, barcode labels are crucial in improving supply chain and inventory management. They enhance accuracy, efficiency, and visibility, contributing to cost savings and improved overall operations. Choosing the right barcode label involves understanding your requirements, selecting the appropriate type, and considering factors such as size, material, and durability.

Labeling Solutions is a one-stop shop for all barcode requirements. Labeling Solutions offers a range of high-quality barcode labels and tags, industrial barcode printers, barcode label printer accessories, custom labels, and barcode scanners to meet your business needs. Embrace the power of barcode technology and elevate your inventory management to new heights. Visit to explore our comprehensive range of barcode solutions and take the first step toward a more efficient and streamlined supply chain.

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