Collaborative Post

How modern barcodes are being used in the world today


Barcodes may seem insignificant to most, but once you have explored the possibilities in ways in which they can be used in today’s world for the greater good it is inspiring to say the least. In this article we will look at two major industries that use them daily in their operations.

UPC barcodes were created and designed for use in retail stores in the 70s to help store owners better their checkout process by being able to complete the point of sale in a faster manner to be able to serve more customers on a daily basis and avoid human error, this is when the UPC or Universal Product Code was introduced to stores in 1974.

From then on retailers slowly began introducing the use of UPC barcodes in their stores. Although being hesitant at first, they soon began to see the benefits of how UPC barcodes allowed for their sales and profits to increase. Although UPC barcodes were the only format being used at the time, the EAN format is now also used in retail stores, this is a newer format of the UPC, they are identical other than the fact that UPC is 12 digits and EAN is 13 digits.

How barcodes are being used around the world
How barcodes are being used around the world. Photo by Markus Winkler

The UPC is predominantly used in America and EAN is preferred across the rest of the world. The invention changed the world forever when it comes to stock inventory and point of sale systems. Looking back we are astounded at how retailers coped working on a manual human reliant system before the 1970s, the store would have to close for a minimum of a day to do stock take every month, a limited amount of customers could be seen to in a day, and human error was a big feature, but no more thanks to Norman Joseph Woodland the creator of UPC barcodes.

Now GS1 barcodes are scanned more than six million times a day in retail stores across the world. And those records are only for the ones that are purchased directly from GS1, there are also other options available for purchasing your barcodes, that being resellers of barcodes. Or perhaps having your high resolution barcodes images designed by a company such as

Another way in which barcodes have helped the world is by the use of barcodes in our hospitals. The same as with retail everything went from manual to electronic, preventing human error, as when it comes to patients in hospitals, we all know that there is absolutely no room for human error or for allowing lax procedures. From the moment a patient enters a hospital barcodes are being used, from their medical records folder to any medication that is administered.

Some hospitals may even have them on the band that is placed on your arm when patients are admitted, which when scanned will reflect all the patient’s medical records as well as when a nurse administers medication to the patient the barcodes get scanned so that there is never any uncertainty as to which medication was administered and when a patient had their medication. As well as with each bottle of medication that is in a hospital which is barcoded, and strict procedures are followed when administered.

The same applies when a patient is being discharged from hospital and a doctor prescribes them medication to take home with them, the electronic prescription will be sent to the pharmacy electronically as well and they will put together the medication required, and scan the barcodes and send it up to the ward. This greatly reduces the risks of the incorrect medication being given to patients as well as reduces the time spent on putting together the prescriptions as before it was done electronically either the nurse or patient would have to take the hand written prescription to the pharmacy in the hospital to be filled and wait for the pharmacist to put together the medication. With everything being recorded every step of the way hospitals really are able to offer the best top notch care to their patients without having to worry about the mundane administration part of the hands on care.

Let us have a look at a different format which is called a QR Code which is short for Quick Response Code and is scanned using a smartphone. This is a very modern format and is being used more often these days. One way that we may remember these barcodes is the infamous BBM Pin. You would be provided with a image which could be scanned and would load someone onto your BBM contacts list instead of manually entering in their pin.

Although we no longer use BBM the QR Code is still being used in many ways. Business have been known to use them as part of their marketing strategy, whether it be competitions or on business cards. We have even seen businesses who have their QR code placed in the waiting area which clients can scan the code while waiting and it directs them through to the company information page or website where clients can read all about the company while waiting. It could even direct them to specials or offers that they may be offering, this would work really well in businesses like beauty parlours, nail bars or hairdressers. The same can apply to stores that are running competitions, instead of having each person fill in an entry form they can scan the code and it can take them through to an electronic entry form, this saves paper as well, which we should all be trying our utmost best to do. With regards to having them on your business card, it is intriguing for the people who see your business card as it is something different and with it directing potential clients to a webpage which you can have designed you can provide them with an eye catching informative page rather than just contact details on a card. It may help to draw more business in. This article on The New Yorker discusses a very different way that they used these codes for a savanger hunt.

We hope you were inspired by this article and have decided to incorporate barcodes into your business. There are no restrictions on what they can be used for or the format that you may want to use. You may also have some questions which we did not answer that you can browse through on GS1 FAQS

Previous articlePostie attacked by “vicious, sex manic” duck receives hilarious apology note from owners
Next articleScottish Managers Who Found Success in the Premier League