history of the barcode - featured image

How the creation of a barcode changed everything

Featured image by Buddy Cat

The idea for a barcode first originated in the mind of a man called Joe Woodland while he was sitting on a beach in Miami. Woodland and Silver developed this idea and in 1974, their dream became a reality. The first UPC code was scanned at a Marsh Supermarket in Ohio on 26 June 1974 as per How the barcode began

This sparked the beginning of the barcoding revolution. After this, the technology continued to develop and expand over the years until the UPC barcode took over every aspect of our lives, in a good way. However, what exactly has changed? How has the development of technology changed our lives on a daily basis?  How has the barcode changed the way we conduct business?

In short, it has changed everything. Before the invention of the UPC barcode, the shopping experience for consumers was a whole lot different to how it is now. In the past, the checkout experience would have inevitably involved long queues which would consume a lot of time for both the consumers and the retail store itself. Barcoding has ensured that this checkout process is smooth and efficient and shortens the queues considerably. In the past, in order to sell a product, the retail assistant had to manually search for each item on their sales system or manually enter the price of the item from the price sticker on the physical product. This could take a lot of time and the chances of human error occurring were high. In these modern days, all the retail assistant has to do is to scan each code in order to bring the product as well as the price up on the sales system. The sales system automatically tallies up the total owed by the shopper. Introducing the UPC barcode into businesses has led to fewer mistakes being made. It reduces the chance of human error as previously mentioned and this has revolutionised the business world by boosting profits and minimizing losses. Every business aims to lower the risk and boost profits at all costs, and this is one tool that businesses can use to do this.  In turn, this has led to the success and modernisation of many businesses throughout the world.

The Barcode has also changed the way businesses control their stock.  In the past, it was necessary to completely shut down in order to do an accurate and thorough inventory check. Using a barcode gives each business owner complete control over their inventory. They can see at a glance how many of each product they have in stock at any given moment.  This means that it is no longer necessary to shut down the store in order to do inventory checks. This saves money, hiring of extra staff as well as time.

Barcode technology is constantly progressing, and, in this way, new kinds of barcodes are being developed as well as new ways of using existing barcodes. One kind that has revolutionised our everyday lives is called the Quick Response code. This QR code for short is two-dimensional and can be scanned by any smartphone or other two-dimensional scanner. It is a square image with black dots, squares, and other shapes on it.  When this image is scanned, it links the client to a URL. There are many ways that businesses are using this barcode.  Firstly, it can be used as a promotion tool. Clients can scan it to access information regarding your business such as specials or promotions or contact details.  You can also use them to create a treasure hunt within your business. Each one can have a clue and clients have to scan the QR codes in order to follow the line of queues in order to receive the prize. Read more on QR code uses at https://www.entrepreneurinfo.co.za/

A second way that QR codes have changed the way we do business today is via SnapScan and other such payment applications.  In South Africa, more and more people are moving away from carrying credit cards or cash on them.  This is for safety reasons. It is also a lot more convenient to be able to only carry your smartphone around with you. With these payment applications, people can pay for their purchases simply by scanning a QR code and following the prompts.

The UPC barcode has even revolutionised the art world. They have formed the inspiration behind works of art as well as buildings throughout the world. Interior designers are using the minimalism of a barcode to design furniture as well as wall hangings.  Graffiti artists are incorporating them into their art worldwide. Even architects are excited about this revolution and have designed buildings with the barcode theme. Tattoo artists are also joining in by designing tattoos based on barcodes.  In addition, these days you can even get your nails painted with a linear UPC inspiration.

Barcodes have also made hospitals worldwide a lot safer for everyone. They have been used to control blood in the blood bank and make sure that the correct blood type is given to the correct patient. Patients are also being given wristbands with a barcode on it.  This is to make sure that they are given the right medication as well as the right diet.  Stocks of medication are now being controlled with barcodes, making it harder for people to abuse the system.  In a hospital time is life. Therefore, by saving time, a barcode can save lives.

In conclusion, the barcode has changed the way the world works.  We are excited to be part of this revolution and we hope you will be joining us in this. This is a guide on the basics that may be interesting to some, and may help with understanding how UPCs are issued and created and assigned to your company GS1 The Basics of UPC barcodes