QR Codes were primarily developed in 1994 by Japanese automaker Toyota to track vehicles during car manufacturing.
Barcodes were used for inventory management prior to QR Code inventory systems. Barcodes are one-dimensional, which means they can only hold information in the horizontal dimension. Inventory management these days has far surpassed what was required in the 90s—and therefore barcodes don’t suffice anymore.
Before any of these technologies existed, cashiers and administrators tracked inventory manually, which was extremely slow and inefficient.
While barcodes were used extensively for inventory tracking purposes, they were still inefficient for mass product inventory management since they do not have the ability to store large data and lacks flexibility.
With complex global manufacturing and logistics systems, QR Codes for inventory provided the capability to hold more comprehensive information for these systems to function properly.
Thus, a QR Code inventory management was developed for effective and easy inventory tracking and management.
Table of Contents
- How to create QR Codes for inventory management
- Creating a robust, enterprise-friendly QR Code system for inventory management
- Barcodes vs QR Codes for inventory tracking: the differences
- 8 reasons why you should use QR Codes for inventory management
- Beaconstac’s dynamic forms feature allows you to record inventory tracking data seamlessly
- Beaconstac allows you to do QR Code inventory management with Google Sheets and Excel
- Maximize efficiency with QR Codes
How to create QR Codes for inventory management
- Go to the dynamic QR Code generator. You require dynamic QR Codes to maximally leverage QR Codes for inventory tracking purposes.
- Choose the QR Code type from the different templates available. (Use Beaconstac’s dynamic forms feature to seamlessly do this!)
- Enter the inventory tracking information to be encoded into the QR Code.
- Customize the QR Code to be in keeping with your brand colors, logo, style, and so on.
- Do a scan test to see if your QR Code is easily scannable and QR Code analytics get picked up in your QR Code solution.
- Download your QR Code in your preferred format and print them so that they can go on your inventory.
Creating a robust, enterprise-friendly QR Code system for inventory management
Leveraging QR Codes for inventory management at scale can be difficult owing to the sheer number of product quantities that need to be tracked and managed. We suggest that you set up your QR Code inventory system through these two methods:
1. Bulk QR Codes for inventory management
Since an inventory typically contains products in large quantities, creating QR Codes single-handedly for each product is time-consuming and inefficient.
Thus, creating QR Codes in bulk helps to create and download QR Codes for inventory management in large quantities.
Not just that, bulk QR Code generators allow you to customize the QR Codes too, which helps embed them onto different products without spending too much time.
To create QR Codes in bulk:
- Go to Beaconstac’s QR Code Generator and log in to the dashboard.
- Go to the QR Codes section on the left panel.
- Click on Bulk Upload.
- Choose the QR Code type.
- Upload your QR Code inventory management data in the form of a CSV file.
- Customize different elements of the QR Code design. Change colors, add your brand logo, include CTA frames, and so on.
- Create a label for your batch for easy sorting and organization later on.
- Submit your bulk creation request.
It’s as simple as that! Bulk-creating even 1000-2000 QR Codes at once takes as little as four minutes. We also have a feature wherein any error or missing field in the inventory data that has been uploaded will be notified.
READ: How to create bulk QR Codes from an Excel spreadsheet.
2. QR Code API for inventory management
If your business has its own dedicated app, then it is best to switch to the QR Code API feature that can be used to generate QR Codes by integrating it with the app.
The QR Code API feature can generate QR Codes of all kinds, depending on the requirement.
This feature allows the warehouse staff to create QR Codes on the fly and also allows them to edit, track, and use them in real-time.
To integrate your application of choice with our QR Code API,
- Sign up for a free API trial.
- Get the developer token key (API key).
- Create a QR Code and customize it.
- Test the QR Code to check scannability and analytics.
- Download the QR Code.
Barcodes vs QR Codes for inventory tracking: the differences
Here’s a table outlining the differences between barcodes and QR Codes for inventory tracking purposes:
|One dimensional||Two dimensional|
|Holds less inventory tracking data (8-25 characters)||Holds more inventory tracking data (up to 7000 characters)|
|Scannability is poor—meaning that the scanning device has to be held in certain angles to read the barcode||Scannability is very high—scanning device can pick up the QR Code from various angles easily|
|Cannot be read natively by smartphones cameras||Can be read easily by smartphone cameras. Scannability features are also improving|
|Cannot be custom branded with unique brand colors and logo||Can easily be custom branded with unique brand colors and logo|
QR Codes for inventory management: 8 reasons why you should use them
#1 QR Codes occupy less space, speeding up the inventory process
Although barcodes were used to track inventory, they do not hold the capability to hold large amounts of data.
QR Codes are small in size—as small as 1 cm x 1 cm—and can be scanned to retrieve large amounts of data. Dynamic QR Codes help speed up the scanning process as they contain short URLs and also track real-time location data— thereby fastening the inventory process to maximize efficiency.
They also store large amounts of data, more than 100X the information that a barcode can hold. Using QR Codes on product packaging directly is another way of storing inventory information. QR Codes can also help you measure the performance of your inventory processes by defining and following the right inventory metrics.
QR Codes for inventory management aid the process of maintaining an accurate inventory and will also cut down time spent on manual data entry and enhance the accuracy of records in question.
READ: An in-depth guide on how to size QR Codes.
#2 QR Code management: Easy to scan
With the surging popularity of QR Codes, they can be easily read using most smartphone cameras natively, without any third-party application required.
QR Codes are easy to scan, even if they are slightly misaligned as current QR Code scanning capabilities are powerful enough to scan them from different angles. In addition, QR Codes can store a myriad of information such as URLs, business cards, PDFs, and even GPS coordinates.
Employees of warehouses and storage facilities prefer to use smartphones for scanning to maintain inventory as they are more convenient and easy to use. Warehouse storage solutions like rack systems can ensure you accurately keep track of inventory assets. You can read Unleashed Software’s definitive guide to inventory management for modern product businesses to learn more about inventory management.
Tip – If the QR Code is not being scanned correctly, please check for its error correction levels or try scanning the QR Code from a distance. You can then create a QR Code to optimize for maximum readability.
#3 Customizable for different types of products
For businesses that provide different types of product types on a daily basis such as large retail chains, clothing stores, and grocery chains, having QR Codes that can be easily identified helps in distinguishing products based on their categories.
This helps the warehouse staff to label and organize their products even before they begin scanning them.
Customize QR Codes to suit the color of the products by changing their color, adding a background image or logo to identify the product to easily identify the product that can be customized for different types of products.
Tip – Customize the QR Code by adding a logo, changing its eyes, template, and color to label them to identify it easily even from a distance.
#4 Damage resistant with minimum error correction levels
A substantial advantage of QR Codes over barcodes is that they have up to 30% error tolerance.
In other words, a QR Code can work even if 30% of the QR Code is damaged, a basic necessity for products that are shipped and processed on a large scale. QR Codes are also less susceptible to damage, making them a more reliable option for inventory tracking.
The efficiency of QR Codes is due to their square shape and the fact that the elements they hold that are clustered together. Products typically go through tremendous amounts of wear and tear as they go through different types of transportation and weather conditions during processing. It is reasonable to expect that damages to printed QR Codes can occur.
This is where the error correction feature of QR Codes can be super helpful. Using QR Codes to track inventory helps warehouse staff to scan them instantly and avoid the additional time/hassles it would take to process damaged barcodes.
Tip – Make sure to print the QR Code at least 2 cm x 2 cm so it is not blurry and always print on an even surface with a hardback to maximize its scannability. Also, always test the QR Code before downloading it.
Read this blog post to know why your QR Code is not working and how to fix it.
#5 Real-time asset tracking with a QR Code-based inventory management system
When dealing with large-scale inventories, it is important to keep track of them to know where they are, what time batches were last scanned, and how swiftly they are being transported.
Using QR Codes for inventory tracking helps track inventory in real-time based on scanning activity. Inventory can be tracked based on the QR Code’s GPS location, time of the last scan, and even the OS used for retrieving granular data about the products.
QR Codes can also be shared with customers to track their shipment to provide more transparency regarding shipping and logistic processes.
Using QR Codes on every piece of inventory for tracking will help the warehouse team track assets in real-time and help anyone else handle the inventory to keep track of them without running down to the storage for confirmation.
Tip – Tie the QR Code with other inventory management software or rental software and Google Analytics to retrieve additional information about products.
#6 Agility to integrate with current product inventory systems
Most inventory management software allows you to incorporate QR Codes into them.
To integrate a QR Code with the current product inventory system, scan the UPC barcode when a product arrives and print a QR Code using the inventory system. The QR Code is attached to the product before shipping to retail locations.
These QR Codes can also be scanned by the consumer to view the online version of the product with reviews, specifications, and even availability.
#7 Utilize cloud technology
QR Codes make it easier for warehouse administrators to connect and store information in the cloud. Databases stored in the cloud can be easily accessed by all team members and are not restricted to one specific location.
This can be especially helpful if warehouse employees spend a lot of time on the floor looking to retrieve data about products.
Cloud-based inventory management eliminates the need to go back to an office to update records and makes it easier to update them in real-time via QR Codes.
Attach the QR Code to a webpage that lets the warehouse staff update, edit, and track data via a cloud-based inventory management software to keep a better track of the inventory and subsequently optimize the order management process.
8. Collect feedback easily
QR Codes are a great tool to collect feedback from both employees and customers with a simple scan. Employees can use QR Codes to submit their feedback about the project they are working on, jot down any irregularities in the shipment process, or submit any other feedback.
Once the shipment is successfully shipped from the warehouse, customers can utilize QR Codes on product packaging to leave feedback.
READ: How you can use QR Codes on receipts to boost post-purchase engagement.
Benefits of using QR Codes for inventory management
- Easy scannability
- Easy to use
- Enhanced security as opposed to other technologies
- Ability to redirect existing QR Codes
- Less printing space required
- Quick automation
- Easy troubleshooting
- Elevated error tolerance
- Superior data storage capabilities
- Dynamic to use
Beaconstac’s dynamic forms feature allows you to record inventory tracking information easily
If you’re planning on using QR Codes for inventory—you can leverage Beaconstac’s dynamic forms feature to track your inventory data seamlessly!
All you have to do is create a form template with questions set up as the inventory management information that you wish to track. These could be queries that record inventory tracking data such as employee ID, location, pallet number, batch number, product status, and much more.
Beaconstac allows you to do QR Code inventory management with Google Sheets and Excel
Say you want to generate QR Codes in bulk and print them in one go so that you have them in hand when you want to deploy them on your inventory.
With Beaconstac this becomes completely easy! Simply create a spreadsheet on Google Sheets and leverage Beconstac’s Zapier integration or Integromat integration to automatically create a new QR Code when new rows get added. You also have the option to generate QR Codes from within Google Sheets with Beaconstac’s dedicated Google Sheets plugin.
Another way to bulk-create QR Codes is to simply upload CSV files into the Beaconstac dashboard to create your QR Code batch with the necessary information. We provide a spreadsheet template that you need to follow—simply download the template and edit all your inventory information either in Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel.
READ: A more in-depth guide that dives into the details of bulk-creating QR Codes with Beaconstac.
QR Codes for inventory management can help maximize efficiency with minimal efforts
Several inventory management systems demand a lot of data entry, changing, or removing records of assets manually. Even if they are streamlined, it requires acquiring a lot of technical knowledge and skills to manage the software efficiently.
QR Code inventory systems help to automate operations to achieve maximum efficiency with minimal errors. This instantaneous information transfer will also reduce the number of shortcomings in inventory records and improve the cost-effectiveness of your inventory management.
Integrating QR Codes for inventory management is a sure way to optimize and promote a smooth transaction of the inventory management system and allows direct access to track, store, and streamline assets.
If you wish to leverage QR Codes for inventory tracking and would like to give our product a shot, check out our dynamic QR Code costs. Alternatively, you can schedule a demo with us or start your free trial.
Can QR Codes be used for tracking inventory?
Yes—QR Codes are widely used in the inventory management space. They are 2D versions of barcodes, and come in varying module configurations for storing inventory information of different lengths. The largest possible module configuration, 177 X 177, allows you to store inventory data of upto 7089 numeric characters and 4296 alphanumeric characters.
How do I create a QR Code for inventory management?
- Go to a dynamic QR Code generator of your choice. Remember that only dynamic QR Codes are trackable!
- Choose the QR Code type from the templates available.
- Enter the inventory tracking data that you want to encode into the QR Code.
- Customize your QR Code to your liking.
- Test-scan to see if QR Code scan data and related analytics get updated in real time.
- Download your QR Code to deploy them on your inventory.
How are QR Codes used for inventory management?
As physical-to-digital gateways, QR Codes can be printed on physical inventory to hold detailed information about the product and its whereabouts. Upon scanning the QR Code, warehouse or logistic personnel can register product data such as date of dispatch, location, pallet number, and so on by easily integrating with a preferred inventory tracking/management software.
Can QR Codes hold more inventory management data than barcodes?
Yes. QR Codes can hold data along two dimensions—both vertical and horizontal—as opposed to 1D barcodes. They’re also more suitable for printing inventory tracking labels as they occupy less space and can also hold more characters within them.
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