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Barcode Inventory - Get Started

Inventory Quick Links:  Download Barcode Inventory White Paper
  Inventory My Stock
  Choosing Barcode Inventory Software
  Initial Barcode Inventory
  Go Live with your Barcode Inventory

Barcode Inventory - Get Started

Getting started with a barcode inventory system
How do I get started with a barcode inventory?  Many companies get hung up on the selection of inventory software and the project gets stuck from “analysis paralysis”. If your inventory processes / procedures / system could be better, we recommend getting started with one of the $1,000 solutions listed below which includes the desktop inventory software and a portable barcode scanner. Here’s why:

  1. It allows you to prove to your company team that the technology is going to save you time and money in the long run.
  2. The entry point is inexpensive and after the initial inventory gives an almost instant savings.
  3. If you decide to change or upgrade your inventory system at a later date, all the information from the inexpensive system can be imported into the new system.

Regardless of the barcode inventory software or barcode scanner you choose, the “to do” list for implementing a barcode inventory system is the same:


  • Make a master list of everything that might be in your warehouse or stockroom. This will include the item number, unit of measure and description at a minimum. It may also include the purchase cost, vendor, minimum inventory amount (the amount you must always have on-hand), and other pertinent information associated with the item. Put the list on a Microsoft Excel worksheet, because from there you can implement any of the 3 types if inventory solutions below.

    If you don’t currently have a master list of materials you should be able to easily get it from your suppliers. Just ask them (or tell them you’ll stop ordering until you get it). This will minimize the time you have to spend putting it together.
    Start Barcode Inventory - Print Barcodes

  • Put barcodes on inventory items and locations. Most products come from the manufacturer with barcodes attached. These barcodes have the item number written in text below the barcode. If these barcodes currently exist, then your effort here might be minimal. You do, however, have to make sure that the barcode on the item matches the item number in your master list in step 1 above.

    • It’s a good idea to get set up to print barcode labels within the facility. Even if all your materials come from your vendors with proper barcodes, you’ll still find that you’ll have to generate location labels and re-label items from time to time.

    • There are a variety of methods you can use to print barcodes. We recommend the lowest cost alternative to get started – a barcode font. Barcode fonts give you an inexpensive and flexible way to print labels quickly with high resolution and a low initial investment.

    • The location barcode is important because the goal of the inventory system is to know not only what your have, but to be able to tell accurately where it all is - specifically. You can get creative with the location barcode. Let’s look at an example:

    • Let’s say that you have a warehouse with 2 shipping doors, 6 aisles of shelves, with a storage shelf on each side of the aisle. When you receive inventory to the dock, you might use a location barcode of “DOCK1” or “DOCK2” to indicate that those materials are sitting inside the door. When you go to put them away, you might put them in location “A3-S6-B4”, which represents Aisle 3, Shelf 6, Bin 4. The important thing to understand here is that the location barcode should not only be understood by the inventory system (it doesn’t really care as long as the location barcode is unique and readable) but also that it means something to the employee putting away the stock.

These steps are going to take a little time, but the good news is that this is the hardest part (from the actual work standpoint) of putting together a barcode inventory system. Try to make sure you have enough help, or at least enough time to be thorough about this process. Make sure that everyone’s expectations are realistic about the level of effort required for this step.

Now you’re ready to choose the inventory software that you’ll use. Click to go to “Choosing Inventory Software"