Three ways barcodes can be used to prevent theft

September 20, 2022

Managing a store is not easy. You need to sort through a massive inventory list and ensure every item gets accounted for and nothing is missing. Shoplifting is a big problem in America, with more than 500,000 incidents occurring daily and upward of $13 billion in goods stolen annually, including groceries, cosmetics, and clothing.

According to the National Retail Federation, organized theft generates almost 30 billion dollars in economic damages nationwide. However, stealing is not limited to stores; these criminals also steal delivery packages, break into warehouses and sell fake products under a genuine license name.

So what is the quickest way to solve this issue? Since you cannot individually watch over every product, you need a system to keep track of all the items related to your business. This is where barcodes and barcode scanners come into action. So what are these nifty tools, and how do they work? Here is what you need to know:

What Are Barcodes and Barcode Readers?

Bar codes are unique numerals and characters depicted by bars and spaces which provide information on an item's origin, type, location, and price. However, these are not readable by the eye, and you need to run them through a scanner to decode the symbols. So if you want to keep tabs on your inventory and make sure your employees do the same, you need to look into getting programmable barcode scanners.

There are five barcode readers: charge-couple devices, image scanners, pen wands, slot scanners, and laser scanners. Once the barcode gets scanned, it gets logged into your system's database and validates your consumer's purchase. Depending on the barcode scanner you plan on using, you may need to connect your device through a serial, keyboard, and wedge port to use it.

How Do Barcodes Prevent Theft?

Barcodes make for an effective security system since they track and inform you where the product is located. These barcodes have an inbuilt system that utilizes radio frequencies that trigger an alarm if an item gets stolen, here's how:

1. Ensure Package Gets Delivered On Time

Packages can get stolen off your consumer's porch or door when left unattended. In some instances, package thieves may also intercept a moving vehicle and acquire all the items loaded in the back. More than 40 million Americans have had a package stolen in the last 12 months. Therefore, anytime a parcel is en route, it needs monitoring.

This is why each container has a barcode printed with both EAN and QR codes. The EAN code tells the consumer about the article number of the package, while the QR code links the customer to the store's website. So once the parcel is delivered, the barcodes get scanned and logged into the system.

As a manager, you will know the parcel's article number, when it reached your client and where it is currently located. So if a thief tries to steal the product, the police can easily catch them using this information to retrieve the item.

2. Maintain Inventory

Warehouses are the collecting and storing point of every product related to your business. According to the Loss Prevention Magazine, cargo theft can cause $15 to $30 billion in damages in the United States. You can catch if your inventory got tampered with since your stock levels and sale records will not match.

Retail barcodes are imperative in maintaining and managing a warehouse's database. Every item has its EAN barcode. These are unique one-dimensional symbols that identify the product. If the product gets scanned, details about it show up on your computer, and you can chronologically go through the list to ensure everything is there.

Additionally, you can attach RFID security tags to these parcels. This uses radio frequencies that stay activated unless you scan the product at the checkout, disabling the security system. So when moving your products around, tag them and place RFID security near checkout counters only where you can monitor activity. If anyone tries to haul a product without going through the scanner, you will get alerted by an audible alarm.

3. Prevents Counterfeit Products From Getting Sold

According to the US intellectual property and counterfeit goods, as of 2018, counterfeit products are the most significant criminal enterprise globally, yielding over $1.7 to $4.5 trillion annually. Fake products are a massive problem; these are duplicates of the authentic item and cause an enormous loss in sales. While knockoffs are easy to detect, they are gigantic scams. These items are made from low-quality material and have spelling errors, but they are popular among consumers as they are easy to access and always in bulk.

As a business owner, you can sue individuals who sell counterfeit items by filing a claim under intellectual property theft. When a duplicate product is sold under your name, you can confirm the authenticity of the item by scanning the serial number to confirm if it belongs in your inventory.

All you have to do is run the product over a barcode scanner; if the package number and the product code don't match, the item is a duplicate. Your clients can do the same; if they have an object with your brand label, you can scan the product and confirm with your inventory if it is a genuine item.

Final Thoughts

Businesses need to protect their products from getting stolen or duplicated. Theft and fraud lead to a massive reduction in sales. While it is not realistically possible to keep an eye on every item that comes in or goes out of your store, you can use barcodes to track the location of your package. To decode a barcode, you need a unique device that can read the pattern and verify the details of your article. This is important when you dispatch packages, need to maintain inventory, or ensure counterfeit products are not stealing your sales.

Since the data on each barcode is already available on your system, a simple scan verifies the transaction and confirms the purchase. As thieves don't have a scanner or access to your database, they cannot turn off the inbuilt security system or intercept your goods without getting caught. As a result, your inventory stays up to date, has no missing items, and a petty crime does not impact your sales.


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Carlos Diaz
I believe in making the impossible possible because there’s no fun in giving up. Travel, design, fashion and current trends in the field of industrial construction are topics that I enjoy writing about.

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