Barcodes contain information

Barcodes contain information which has been generated using a barcode font to provide a symbolic and encoded representation of a number, text, or a series of numbers and words/text which can be decoded by – depending on the type of barcode – computers, optical scanning devices and apps on smartphones/tablets. There are many different types of barcodes – Two-Dimensional for large volumes, printer based, numeric only, alpha numeric, postal, OCR fonts, etc.

Barcodes are another method of data capture. To find out more about Data Capture, click here.

The first barcode patent was issued 60 years ago in 1952, but they didn’t get used commercially until the 1970’s; going on to become the defacto method of stock control for retailers the world over and transforming the retail shopping experience in the process.

List of different types of barcodes

  • Numeric-only barcodes

    Codabar: Older code often used in library systems, sometimes in blood banks

    Code 11: Used primarily for labelling telecommunications equipment

    EAN-13: European Article Numbering international retail product code

    EAN-8: Compressed version of EAN code for use on small products

    Industrial 2 of 5: Older code not in common use

    Interleaved 2 of 5: Compact numeric code, widely used in industry, air cargo

    MSI: Variation of the Plessey code commonly used in USA

    Plessey: Older code commonly used for retail shelf marking

    PostNet: Used by U.S. Postal Service for automated mail sorting

    UPC-A: Universal product code seen on almost all retail products in the USA and Canada

    Standard 2 of 5: Older code not in common use

    UPC-E: Compressed version of UPC code for use on small products

  • Alpha-numeric barcodes

    Code 128: Very capable code, excellent density, high reliability; in very wide use world-wide

    Code 39: General-purpose code in very wide use world-wide

    Code 93: Compact code similar to Code 39

    LOGMARS: Same as Code 39, this is the U.S. Government specification

  • 2-Dimensional barcodes

    PDF417: Excellent for encoding large amounts of data

    DataMatrix: Can hold large amounts of data, especially suited for making very small codes

    Maxicode: Fixed length, used by United Parcel Service for automated package sorting

    QR Code: Used for material control, order confirmation and for marketing – see below

    Code 49: Developed 1987 at the Intermec Corporation to fill a need to pack a lot of information into a very small symbol

    16K: Stacked barcodes which encode characters using a reverse video version of Code 128

QR codes

QR codes are growing in popularity and are frequently found on consumer advertising/packaging and business cards. Their popularity as a consumer marketing tool is rapidly increasing, thanks to smart phones – a scanner in your pocket

QR codes are 2-dimensional codes, so have a large storage capacity when compared with the numeric only UPC barcodes. They were developed by the car industry to track vehicles during the manufacturing process and ensure that data could be decoded very quickly.

These codes are very resilient. They permit a high degree of image corruption and retain the integrity of the data better. Somewhere in the region of 30% of a QR code can be damaged without the data being lost.

This leniency is an advantage for marketing organisations; they are able to place their logo, brand and website in a QR code without rendering it useless. As a result, the QR code has become a focus in advertising strategy. They are convenient for the consumer to scan and directly connect potential customers with the advertiser’s website.

More Information & How Can We Help?

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