Why Barcodes Are Everywhere

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At every shop or library or grocery store that you visit, if you look carefully enough, you will notice that there are barcodes on the products that are there. In a very short space of time those little black and white lined patterns have come to be on almost every piece of packaging around. But why, if the first product to bear a barcode was only created as recently as 1974 (when a pack of Wrigleys chewing gum was scanned at a till point in America), have they so quickly come to dominate the point of sale experience and become as ubiquitous as they are today? Here are some insights into their success. 


Back in the day large chains did not exist, or if they did they certainly were not the norm. Most retailers were smaller mom and pop outfits where the owners did the ordering and the sales and essentially ran the whole show. So keeping track of what they had to sell, knowing how much it cost and what they could afford to sell it for was the responsibility of the owners. But then things started to get bigger and retailers started to employ more people. Systems needed to be put in place to ensure a degree of standardisation and that is where the barcodes and automation came in. Suddenly barcode label software and scanners became standard features at retailers as the scale of operations grew. 

Tamper Proof 

In the old days it was quite easy to change prices or discount items. Perhaps this was something that needed to be done to avoid spoilage, or perhaps it was done to please specific customers or friends. Whatever the reason it was hard to track and as long as the money in the till matched what the register said it should be, at the end of the day nobody worried. But the advent of barcode labels Australia and the rest of the world meant that not only could each transaction be tracked but each product as well. So if an item was sold at a discount it could be flagged or if a specific item was selling well in a specific area it would be noticeable. It was the start of information collection and database creation to inform better retail practices. 

The rise of the computer 

Naturally none of this would have been possible without the major advances that were made in the area of computing. Processing power of computers got better, the internet took off and as mainframes started to become redundant so it became easier and easier to install powerful, networked computers and scanners at the point of sale. All the information was collated centrally, for the retailers and their wholesalers and the job of running a shop became more automated and information driven.   


The rise to the computer and major advances in travel and transport also meant that the world has effectively become a lot smaller. Importing of products has become the norm and a standardized global language that makes sense to computers and databases made increasing sense. The advent of the barcode meant that a product that was made by people in China could be sold anywhere in the world by people who could not speak any Chinese because the barcode transcended language.   

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