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May 10, 2017


Cost of a failed barcode scan

by Marko Vrbnjak

Barcodes aim for at least a 99% accuracy and scanning rate.

That’s ambitious, but the 1% error rate adds significant costs to the supply chain, making successful barcodes extremely important. In fact, GS1 frequently points out, “Barcodes should scan right the  first time, every time!”

It’s not difficult to see how big an impact barcodes make. Consider how many barcodes are scanned globally. The Brussels-based non-profit GS1 posted an online ticker a few years ago to count the number of barcodes scanned around the world each day. According to this, the average number of daily scans is more than 5 billion!

What does a failed barcode cost?

Cost of efficiency:
If a company scans 6 billion items, 1% error means 6 million scanning failures, which is a giant cost for the business (eg a supermarket chain). Scan failures will require manual tracking, increase wait times to load and transport, and decrease overall efficiency.

Cost of errors:
The typical error rate for human data entry is one error per 300 characters. Barcode scanners are much more accurate., and their error rate can be as good as one error in 36 trillion characters depending on the type of barcode used.

Cost of returns:
If the item is unscannable, it might be returned to the supplier. This is an extra process in itself and a serious problem.

Cost of inaccurate invoices:
Good barcodes benefit suppliers by increasing the accuracy of invoicing and payment systems. When all information is correct, there are fewer disputes and delays over payment.

Cost of speed:
Speed is a significant cost in shipping, inventory and point-of-sale actions. The wait time at checkout lines is something we all face as consumers and it certainly isn’t pleasing for any of the parties involved!

Cost of inventory tracking:
Barcodes enable companies to manage and maintain large scale inventories not possible without barcodes. They allow you to accurately track large stocks and find any single item in seconds.

Cost of customer satisfaction:
If the error rate with your barcodes is high, parties in your supply chain (eg large retailers) might not want to continue working with you, as your errors are costing them.

You can find out all about the GS1 system, how to create barcodes correctly and how to verify them in The GS1 Handbook – How To Barcode Your Product and read more on other barcode related tips here.

Contact us to learn how NiceLabel can help you create errorless barcodes that scan every time.