Everything You Need to Know About Barcodes in Fulfillment

by Rakuten Super Logistics | eCommerce Fulfillment

It’s all about…the barcode?

Barcodes are approaching middle-age and not slowing down!  They were invented in 1974 and first used in a supermarket in Troy, Ohio on a 10-pack of Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit chewing gum.   While Juicy Fruit has lost its flavor, barcodes have only gotten more important.

Barcodes make doing business more efficient. They provide a consistent, automated method to track and store information about goods, from individual items to large stocks of thousands or even millions of items.

According to Jeremy Brooks, Manager of Client Integrations at RSL, there are many types of barcodes: QR, EAN, UPC, JAN…  So it’s important to make sure your 3PL can read and utilize the type you are providing.

For a 3PL, barcodes make it possible to track inventory so precisely, inventory levels can be reduced – leading to a cost savings.

On the contrary, missing or incorrect codes can easily result in lost products, missing orders and returns, receiving delays and increased expenses, and a headache for the merchant and the warehouse.  With many products being manufactured in countries other than that of the 3PL (US 3PL and Vietnamese manufacturer, for example), boxing and labeling may be confusing or ambiguous.

Also, there may be small but important differences between two products (similar collectibles with slight color differences, for example). Computer-readable things like barcodes that are the same all the way from the ecommerce system clear through to the 3PL’s packing and picking system helps reduce human or process errors.

Here are two things you can do to ensure your barcodes are up to your 3PL standards:

  • Make sure that your codes are printed at a reasonable size and quality, or the code reading device may not be able to scan it.
  • Provide a physical sample of your code to your 3PL in advance.

There you go.  It really is all about the barcode – without a good one, products can’t be fulfilled.