Barcodes have been the go to option for tagging articles with some sort of serial no. representing the identity of the said articles. Businesses in retail and FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) have been doing so for decades. You might have seen a barcode on a Coca Cola Can or on a food packet already. Believe it or not, more sophisticated and efficient technologies now exist that can replace barcoding completely but it survives. Even today, FMCG and retail are the largest users of barcodes even while many big retail businesses are making the switch to much efficient RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) technology.
History of barcodes/ QR codes
Barcodes as a technology, according to Wiki, was first invented by two Americans named Norman Joseph Woodland and Barnard Silver, and patented in 1952. Bear in mind that it was circular barcode and only in 1972, when barcode were started to be used commercially, in the form of Universal Product Codes (UPC) for grocery items, the vertical bars, designed by George Laurer who was an IBM engineer and came up with UPC.
Fast forward to 20 something years, a Japanese Engineer, Masahiro Hara , working at Denso Wave, a Toyota car manufacturing company was tasked with finding a way to organize auto parts in the assembly line and he came up with now famous, the revolutionary QR Codes (Quick Response Codes).
QR codes are the 2D barcodes which are capable of storing more data (stores data vertically as well horizontally), and respond fast upon scan, and now universally accepted. Businesses such as retail, healthcare, advertisement and marketing, security and access control, education etc. are actively using QR Codes for sharing information to clients and consumers and enhancing the customer experience.
Businesses can use image, pdf, name and contact detail, URL etc. to customize the QR Code as per the need and there exist dynamic QR codes as well that can be encoded with modified data, even after the barcode has been printed and shared.
The Role of Barcodes in Fighting Counterfeiting and Fraud
Barcodes play a critical role in fighting counterfeiting and fraud in several industries, including retail, healthcare, and transportation. While businesses in FMCG need to be vigilant about counterfeiting for obvious health reasons, as a cheap, compromised food package can cause severe harm to consumers and to the company, Healthcare sector can use barcode to prevent counterfeiting and fraud as it is crucial to people’s health and well being.
Easy identification of genuine products
Barcodes are unique and can only be assigned to authentic products. Thus, they help consumers and businesses verify the authenticity of the product. By scanning the barcode, customers can confirm that they are purchasing a genuine product.
Accurate tracking of products
Barcodes help businesses track products from the warehouse to the point of sale. With barcodes, companies can quickly store and retrieve data regarding production, shipping, and stock levels. Such information that work as personal brand identifiers help combat fraud in supply chains by preventing copies of products from reaching the market.
The use of barcodes simplifies the processing of data, reduces human errors, and speeds up processes. For instance, in healthcare, barcodes enhance patient safety by reducing medical errors, such as administering incorrect medications.
Counterfeiting can pose security risks, particularly in industries like finance and government. Through unique identification, barcodes contribute to enhancing security by preventing the use of fake documents and preventing fraudulent activities.
Lower operational costs
By minimizing human errors, enhancing efficiency, and reducing fraud, the use of barcodes can lead to reduced operational costs which further improve business profitability and competitiveness.
Use of technologies such as barcodes and QR codes where a unique identification can be allotted to objects to prevent counterfeiting and fraudulent activities is the need of the hour. Businesses can suffer huge damage to their reputation, customer loyalty and can be liable for financial compensation when customers are cheated or adversely affected due to fake products and frauds. Barcodes can offer an efficient and cost-effective method to assign products with unique ids and preventing counterfeiting.
- Last updated on Jun 19, 2023