What are barcodes used for?

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Thursday, 09 April 2020
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What are barcodes used for?



What are Barcodes used for? 


Barcodes are used in hundreds of different areas of modern life. Their ability to improve efficiency and reduce errors means their use improves cost efficiency. Additionally, barcode labels are fairly inexpensive to produce so it is not surprising that increasingly barcodes are finding their way into many aspects of everyday life. Below are a few examples of the way in which barcodes are being used. 


Almost all products now have a barcode which allows them to be tracked. This can range from just a simple stock code to more detailed information regarding shelf life and warranties. Barcodes on food products can now be scanned using a mobile app which provide detailed information on ingredients and nutritional value. 

Barcodes have enabled huge companies such as Walmart and Amazon to streamline all aspects of their business from managing their supply chain through to sophisticated tracking of the delivery of goods to their customers. 

Entertainment and Travel

Barcodes are now used on tickets to many entertainment events, such as cinemas or shows. The barcode is scanned which checks the validity of the ticket. Barcode are used extensively by airlines on air tickets and boarding passes. Often boarding passes containing a barcode can be printed by the customer themselves, reducing costs to the airlines. 

QR Codes at bus stops and railway stations can be used to provide up to date information about time tables and connections. 


Many adverts in a large variety of media now contain a barcode in the form of a QR Code (a 2D barcode). The QR code can be scanned, typically by a mobile device, to provide more detailed information about the product or service being advertised. QR Codes can be used to also link to videos which provide marketing or technical information. They are often used to link customers to a film trailer. Some businesses use them on business cards which, when scanned on a mobile device, takes the person directly to the company website.

QR Codes on For Sale signs provide contact details for the agent as well as a link to the more information on property for sale. 


There are mobile apps which allow you to scan the barcode on the food you eat and the app will then use the information to track your food intake, thus providing a food diary. 

In hospitals barcodes control inventory of medication and equipment as allowing access to patients and their families. The margin of error is greatly reduced and information is updated accessed quickly.


In certain countries a unique national timber-tracking system has been implemented that means that every legally harvestable tree and every cut log carries a barcode. This means that it can then be tracked from its source to its final destination. End users can then be assured that the timber they buy is legally from a sustainable source. 

Recycle Bins have been barcoded providing the ability to provide incentive-based recycling
Barcodes on clothing tags can provide information on the material used, country of origin and sustainable manufacturing processes. 

Barcodes may well be a real help when used in the ongoing effort to ensure products are sustainably manufactured


Libraries have used QR codes for quite a long time. However, in Austria a city has built a public library with nothing but QR codes, NFC and stickers.

QR Codes next to paintings or sculptures in museums and galleries will provide information about the actual items being exhibited. 

At the bottom of magazine articles leading the reader to more information ion the subject. 
Schools and universities use barcodes to control assets as well and 


In certain countries such as such as China and India, QR codes are used to facilitate payments. The codes are used to store credit card or bank account information. Crypto currencies such as Bitcoin use QR codes to store transaction information, payment addresses and cryptographic keys to share with digital wallets and support payments.

Payment options such as Zapper use QR codes to facilitate the payment process. ERP software can embed QR Codes in invoices and quotes thereby providing easy options for payment. 
QR Codes can be used to provide discount vouchers or special offers. 


Just from the few examples provided above, it is obvious that the use of barcodes is widespread. With the rapid increase in technology and the advent of IoT (Internet of Things), their use will continue to increase.

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