Editor’s note: I’ve accepted this guest post from Sophia Dennis because it ties into a post I’ve written earlier – Adding Product Lines to the Multiple Income Streams Mix – an activity I‘m looking to get into very soon. But the article also sets the stage for a series of posts I plan to write, discussing how technology has dealt the job market a permanent blow, and how on an individual level we need to embrace that same technology to help us transition into self-employment. The technology is there for the “little guy” like never before, and we need to seize the opportunities it presents. J.R. Candon wrote a post here on OOYR earlier this week giving an excellent description of what is happening in the workplace (essentially, the transition of systems over people)and why, and I think it‘s a wake up call for employees everywhere to seriously consider their options. I hope both these posts provide some inspiration in that direction. – Kevin Mercadante
Welcome to the world of technology for the little guy! This article is finely focused, but it’s hard to discuss technology in any other way. We’re going to talk about barcode scanners, because they represent a micro-technology that allows the small business person to transact business on a point of sale (POS) basis, which is about as close to employing cash-and-carry, but without using cash. Kevin has asked that we discuss technology that can assist the self-employed, and this particular technology is one of the most effective tools you can have. The national chains have this technology available in every outlet, and you can have it too.
When linked with point of sale systems, barcode scanners make for a very convenient marriage of technology. You can find barcode scanners on the web at sites like Shopify, that allows you to invest in both a point of sale system and a barcode system at the same time.
They are essentially two sides of the same coin: the application of technology to make an efficient and profitable business that has a high level of automation and minimal human interference. Each has their own benefits to add to a business, but together their contribution is immense and can be a turning point in the fortunes of your business.
Here we take a look at how this symbiotic relationship helps a business grow.
Combining Speed and Accuracy at the Point of Sale
Many companies that use a combined point of sale and barcode system benefit from the speed and accuracy that each half of this interaction gives. It’s a well-known fact that including barcodes in a company’s operation strategy allows for a much higher level of accuracy when it comes to tasks that require the transfer of data from one location to another.
Data entry has the downside of being very unreliable and usually needs a second entry operator to recheck the information entered by the first operator. Even so, there are some errors that slip past both of the operators and may go on to cause havoc in the system. Barcode readers dispense with this problem, creating true data that is exactly how it was written on the barcode. This data can then be processed by the point of sale portion of the system without any trouble.
Streamlined use of the bar code system along with the point of sale terminal develops a culture of fast and accurate processing that makes speed a built-in part of the process. Entrepreneurs who prioritize these two elements tend to be considered much better than competitors who lack the technology.
Complete Inventory Management
Barcode scanners allow the storage of large amounts of information in a small space. Because of this they are ideal for the storage of inventory information. Many point of sale terminals have their own proprietary inventory management software. Combining the accuracy of barcode entry and the speedy method of updating information, barcodes work seamlessly with inventory management software to create systems of positive feedback.
This can be easily exploited in a number of ways, most effectively as a means of ensuring that inventory never runs short. Creating alerts to let ordering personnel know when a certain item has reached a stated “red zone” lets the company ordering staff be aware when an order is needed.
Some businesses take automation one step further by having the software put in orders as well by itself. The quick and accurate retrieval of information from a barcode scanner allows the data on the point of sale to be up to date. Current information always translates to better decisions. Inventory management can view and estimate the marketability of a certain product and can make a judgment call regarding whether to keep the item in stock or to let the stock run out. The small business – operating with a strong barcode system – never runs out of inventory.
Cost Effective Solutions for the Little Guy
At the end of the day, the bottom line is a major concern for each and every business owner. It is widely agreed that barcode systems are inexpensive, but point of sale systems tend to be pricey, especially if multiple point of sale terminals are required. Startup prices for point of sale systems routinely run into the tens of thousands of dollars. However, recent advances in technology has caused the price of implementing a point of sale system to drop drastically.
The rationale for this comes from replacing the expensive, custom built POS terminals with iPads running a specialized point of sale system with its own customizable inventory management system and a cloud backup for all data that passes through the terminal.
Combining this new solution with the traditional effectiveness of the barcode scanner produces a solution that is far more cost effective than its predecessors. Barcodes and point of sale systems are highly efficient at gathering and processing data at high speeds. This translates into a very brisk trade going on through businesses that adopt each one of these technologies.
Businesses that adopt both and streamline them to run alongside each other can almost automate their entire business. From a business owner’s perspective this is a godsend, since it creates a dynamic system that is not prone to errors but still produces fast, accurate results regardless of how long it runs. To say that the combined systems could replace human personnel is going too far right now.
However, if the growth of the technology in both these areas continues at its current exponential rate, it is possible that the future will see much less human staff.
If you’re a small business owner, barcode/POS technology could be the combination that takes your business to the next level.