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Delivery Demands & Broken Barcodes: Solving the Package Paradox

In a world filled with instant gratification, consumers are demanding fast, free shipping. When it comes to supply chain management, logistics and warehouse companies are stepping up to bridge the gap between buyers and suppliers. However, a common roadblock like a broken barcode often sends their product promises packing.

As noted by SmallBizDaily, 75 percent of all consumers expect delivery to be free, even if they order less than $50. This demand is intergenerational: 88 percent of baby boomers, 77 percent of Generation X, and 76 percent of Gen Z all demand free shipping.

Consider the steep rise in grocery delivery services over the last year. Once a logistics outlier, both meal kit companies and traditional grocery stores are looking to tap the $3.5 billion food delivery market, even as businesses like Amazon push technological frontiers with talk of drone-enabled delivery.

More than 13 billion packages are now delivered across the United States each year by large-scale retailers like Amazon, eCommerce startups, and food delivery services. Organizations must increase the efficiency of their delivery processes without passing this cost to the customer.

Going for Speed

Also critical to consumers? Speed. Almost 40 percent want two-day shipping, and according to DC Velocity, almost half are frustrated if they can’t secure same-day options. In fact, 55 percent said that two-hour grocery delivery would increase their brand loyalty.

To meet both distance and speed expectations, barcodes are essential. The familiar black-and-white standard was developed by GS1 nearly 80 years ago and still serves as the most effective way to communicate critical information such as point of origin, product details, shipper information, and eventual destination.

From common UPC-A and EAN-13 symbols used in retail to expanded and omnidirectional bars used in speciality applications and GS1 1D symbols used for general distribution and logistics, there’s a barcode for just about everything. The problem? They don’t always work as intended.

Going for Broke

The barcode concept is simple. Software turns critical data into black lines and white spaces of varying thickness and creates a 1D or 2D label that is affixed to the item or product. Standardized optical scanners read the barcode and translate it back into human-friendly information.

Barcodes are a critical part of the evolving logistics process: They’re read multiple times during packaging, transport and delivery, empower chain-of-custody tracking, and help manage product life cycles. The problem? They’re not exactly invincible.

Going Beyond

What happens if barcodes are ripped, damaged, or poorly printed? Without the ability to read barcodes on-demand, logistics companies have no hope of meeting speed and distance demands.

With automated, mobile barcode scanners capable of reading any code, any time, this isn’t an issue. As noted by Chain Store Age, handheld Android-based devices are now leading the barcode technology revolution, with 73 percent of companies already modernizing their warehouse technology.

Underpinning these advanced mobile options? Software development kits (SDKs) like Barcode Xpress, capable of reading 1D, 2D, postal, and patch codes even if they’re damaged or deformed, allowing logistics firms to go beyond broken barcodes and get back to what matters, delivery on-time and on-demand. Bottom line? Barcodes break, but companies can’t let that slow them down. Mobile devices and advanced SDKs make it possible to compete at scale and speed.