Barcodes for Inventory Management: Determining the Best for Your Business


You’ve got options when it comes to barcodes for inventory management. Which one is the best? That depends on the current and anticipated needs of your business. Odds are you’ll either go with a 1D or 2D barcode, but let's find out. Here are their characteristics:

1D Barcodes

One-dimensional, or 1D barcodes, are the barcodes you probably recognize. They represent data by varying the widths and spacing of parallel lines (therefore, they’re sometimes referred to as linear barcodes). Some of the most common varieties of 1D barcodes are UPC codes used in retail environments; EAN codes, which are used in the consumer products market globally; and POSTNET codes, or Postal Numeric Encoding Technique, which are used by the United States Postal Service to encode ZIP and ZIP plus 4 codes to help postal staff direct the flow of mail.

2D Barcodes

Two-dimensional or 2D barcodes, are graphical and store data both horizontally and vertically, which gives them a much larger storage capacity. In fact, 2D barcodes hold up to 7,089 characters, far more than a 1D barcode. The most commonly recognized form of 2D barcode is the QR code, which requires the user to photograph the code using an app on his/her smartphone. QR codes and other 2D barcodes are considered more secure than their 1D counterparts because they’re more easily encrypted.

Barcode Labels

The decision of whether you go with a 1D or 2D barcode format depends on the complexity of the inventory management process you currently have and the one you anticipate in the future. Some barcode inventory management systems give you the option of printing your own barcode labels. You can also order barcode labels and asset tags online through

Barcode Scanners

You’ll also want to give some thought to how barcode scanners interact with these barcodes. Some scanners strictly read 1D barcodes, while others can read both 1D and 2D barcodes. Barcode scanner types include laser, linear imagers and 2D area imagers, and they may be ordered in a variety of forms like handheld, presentation scanners and mobile computers. You’ll have the option of cordless or corded, Bluetooth capabilities and various scanning distances. Obviously, the more sophisticated the scanner, the higher the price point. Some sophisticated asset tracking solutions offer barcode scanning as a built-in feature on their mobile apps.

Barcode Software

In addition to barcodes for inventory management, you’ll want to consider the barcode software that works in conjunction with those codes. Keep in mind your anticipated needs in the future – in other words, go with a software that’s scalable and flexible – and find yourself a product that integrates with your accounting system, which helps ensure that any changes you make to your inventory system are then recorded in accounting.

Once you’re up and running, you’ll quickly reap the benefits of efficiencies like the ability to track inventory across multiple locations, arrange for transfers, set up thresholds for ordering, calculate appreciation and depreciation, and ship, receive and count inventory faster and more accurately than ever before.

Asset Panda offers the industry’s best inventory management tool. This intuitive, yet incredibly powerful platform includes a mobile barcode scanner, so you won’t need a separate device to scan your inventory. Download our mobile app, and you have the freedom of combining your inventory and assets into customizable configurations and the ability to scan barcodes without buying extra equipment. With Asset Panda, you have real-time data at your fingertips, accessible from anywhere at any time.


Courtney Roush

Courtney Roush is a freelance writer, editor, and communications strategist with 25 years of experience. Her favorite discipline is crisis communications – and it’s a highly relevant one in our present times.

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