QR Codes for Quick and Easy Inventory Tracking

In Defense of Data: How you Could be Misusing this Common Tool

It’s not all about marketing

Let’s get this out of the way: the subject I’m going to cover today is a polarizing one. Like with all topics, some people will be on the bandwagon, on the fence, or dragging their feet kicking and screaming; this particular subject attracts discussions of the kicking and screaming variety. I’m talking about QR codes. There are many who think that the QR code is dead, and they wouldn’t be wrong. We could write an entire blog post about why QR codes suck, but they’re still the fastest way to transmit large amounts of information. That’s what makes it such a great platform on which to base your asset management and inventory tracking.

It’s easy to lose sight of that when everywhere you look, someone is trying to sell you the idea of a QR code as a marketing tool. Most people are exposed to QR codes by coupons, advertising campaigns, business cards.…In actuality, QR codes were invented for asset management. They’re 2-dimensional, meaning that they are read both vertically and horizontally, allowing you to pack a lot of unique information into a small amount of space. They’re also digitally scanned as opposed to mechanically scanned, meaning that you don’t need a special device that’s hooked up to special software to complete a scan. You don’t necessarily need to invest in expensive hardware or integrate a new system into your network.

How I use QR codes

I own and operate a high-volume print shop. When every second counts, knowing what you have on hand becomes essential in being able to get the job done. In our shop, we’ve integrated the inventory function within our task manager, which is hosted on our intranet. That means that our schedule of projects are in the same place as our inventory so we can easily cross reference them. I can’t even begin to explain to you how helpful the QR system has been to the operation of my business.

When you have eight people working on one project, being able to track what’s been done and what’s being used becomes a game changer. Every one of my employees has a smart phone (and statistically speaking, at least 70% of your employees will as well). They can connect to the intranet via wi-fi and have instant access to our task manager and inventory system whether they’re in the shop or off-site doing an install for the ultimate mobile asset tracking experience. One drawback to this system is that it’s not always as fast as I’d like; you have to open an app, position the code within the viewfinder and focus the camera before it can even be scanned. Sure it only takes a couple of seconds for that whole process, but when I’m receiving large shipments, it just didn’t seem doable. The Linea Pro fixed that problem for me.

How I made scanning inventory even faster

I first came upon the Linea Pro when I saw it used at a Nordstrom. With a queue that wrapped around the store, an associate was able to stop what he was doing and ring me up on the spot. No need to find an unoccupied cash register; he just scanned my item and swiped my card right onto the device. I was out of there in two minutes. With just the touch of a button, this phone cradle scans QR codes and barcodes alike. This set up cuts my inventory scanning time by over 60%. I can’t think of another way of inventory tracking that’s any faster (and no, no one is paying me to write that).

If you’re a small business and can’t invest in an army of these things, consider purchasing one or two. Your employees can use their own QR code scanning apps to make on-the-fly adjustments, and the Linea when making large changes, like receiving a shipment.