Barcode Printing Basics
Barcodes are just about everywhere these days. They make our life a lot more simple than we realize. Factories use them to control production. Shippers like USPS, UPS, and Fedex use them to track packages and monitor the flow of shipments. You can find them on government issued ID and at your local(or not so local) grocery store. Barcode printing is fairly simple, provided that the design is correct. But, let’s take a step back and find out what our black & white friends are all about.
Most people will recognize the UPC barcode below. It is most commonly found in retail stores.
A barcode is simply a symbol that contains information, which, is read by a machine, which, is usually connected to a database. They fall into 2 main categories, each of which has its own variations. A UPC code like the one above is a one dimensional barcode as it only takes advantage of the thickness of the bars and the spaces in between them. Another example of a one dimensional code is something used by UPS or Fedex.
Here we have a QR code. This is an example of a two dimensional barcode. It takes advantage of the horizontal and vertical spacing. Originally created by vehicle manufacturers for production purposes, they are widely used today by mobile phone users for discounts or purchases. QR codes can also be placed on printed objects like posters or magazines and read by a mobile phone. This will open the phone’s web browser and take the user to a specific site or page. This is called a hardlink.
Why is this important to me?
Firstly, we chose the above codes because they are 2 major players in barcode printing. QR codes, while fairly new to some, have excellent benefits for consumers and businesses alike. QR codes can also be generated easily and have given small businesses exposure they would not otherwise enjoy.
Companies like Amazon are giving UPC codes to new business owners and inventors. This allows someone who developed a gizmo in their garage to harness the power of a giant like Amazon and expose their products to millions of people, who would have been out of reach before.
The first rule of barcode printing for a small business is to make sure your barcode is accurately adapted into your overall design. That, and well if it is possible, test it beforehand. A printing company can only accurately recreate what you need. But, whatever you give them to work with is ultimately what will come out the other side.
If your code is not active with vendors, suppliers or linked to the web, it won’t matter how perfect a job is done, it will not work. As we mentioned before, barcodes contain data, which, is linked with a database. So, if that database does not recognize the information stored within the barcode, or if the link on a QR is dead, well, you get the point. Another major point is that the quiet zone around the barcode should be no less than 1/4 inch. The quiet zone is a buffer that prevents a barcode reader from picking up any irrelevant data.
The good news is, there is a world of potential with these codes. Barcode printing is becoming more and more common and is an excellent marketing tool. Companies like ours have experience in barcode printing and can give you some pointers. Some companies also have a scanner lying arund and can try and test the finished product(only test, read the above paragraph). Choosing the right company is paramount, as we can help you avoid some of the pitfalls of printing barcodes. It is still important to note, however, that one must stay within the guidelines of what is set for that code. A lot of companies will tell you what size it can and cannot be and how much quiet space there should be. QR code generators will give you parameters as well.
QR Codes can also be enhanced to incorporate your logo and include color. This provides an excellent marketing opportunity for many small business. There is a segment of the population, though, that is still unfamiliar with QR codes. Still, many people have a phone on them that can scan QR codes easily.
Dynamic QR Codes can also have their information altered so that, you can use the same QR code but can alter the end result.
The potential for small businesses to use these codes to their benefit is growing daily. You can read more about it from a previous blog. Large corporations like Dunkin Donuts, Target, and Amazon use them to attract new customers and create calls to action. Small businesses can do the same, increase brand awareness, and attract customers in many ways.
All barcodes to need to be printed at some point. That is where an experience printing company can help. A restaurant can send an EDDM flyer with a QR code for 10% off. Or put a code in your brochure for special offers. The options are endless.
Choose a company that has experience in barcode printing. Make sure your specification are accurate, then use your own ideas, our ideas here or from our previous blog on how to help increase your revenue.