In this article

Barcode Tagging: What is it and How Does it Work? (2024 Update)

2 minutes

In this article, we explore what barcode tagging is and how it works. We also cover the benefits, challenges and limitations, and applications of barcode tagging. 

barcode tagging

What is Barcode Tagging?

Barcode Tagging refers to the practice of affixing barcodes to items for identification and data retrieval. By scanning these tags with specialized readers, users can quickly access associated information, streamlining processes like inventory management, sales tracking, and more.


In Amazon's vast warehouse, each product, from a Kindle Paperwhite to a pack of AA batteries, has a barcode tag affixed to it. When an employee scans this tag using a handheld device, it instantly displays product details and location, facilitating rapid order fulfillment.

barcode tag

Benefits of Using Barcode Tagging

Barcode tagging offers organizations a myriad of advantages. Let’s explore some of these below:


Scanning a barcode is much quicker than manual data entry. This speed can greatly reduce the time taken for tasks like inventory management or checkouts.


Human errors in manual data entry can be costly. Barcodes minimize these errors, ensuring that the correct data is always captured.


Once implemented, the costs of barcode systems are relatively low. They can lead to significant savings in the long run through better inventory management and reduced errors.


Barcodes can be used on almost any kind of item and for various purposes, from tracking products in a warehouse to ticketing events.

Real-time data access: 

Modern barcode systems can integrate with software applications, allowing real-time updates and monitoring of data.

Challenges and Limitations

Despite its many advantages, barcode tagging is not free from challenges and limitations that users need to navigate carefully.

Initial Setup Cost: 

While cost-effective in the long run, the initial investment in barcode equipment and system setup can be high.

Scanner Limitations: 

Scanners might not read barcodes that are dirty, damaged, or poorly printed.

Technical Failures: 

Like any technology, barcode systems can experience technical glitches, software issues, or hardware malfunctions.


Staff must be trained to use barcode equipment properly, and there might be resistance to adopting a new system.

Dependency on Technology: 

Since barcode tagging relies heavily on technology, operations can be significantly disrupted if the system fails or during periods of maintenance and updates.

bar code tagging

Practical Applications of Barcode Tagging

Barcode tagging serves as a versatile tool across multiple industries, streamlining processes and ensuring accuracy. Let's delve into its applications in various sectors:


Barcode tags in retail allow efficient inventory management and speedy checkouts. They provide instantaneous product details and pricing, reducing manual errors.


Libraries use barcode tagging to streamline book loans and returns, ensuring a swift check-out process. The system also facilitates the tracking of overdue items and managing reservations.


Barcodes in healthcare enhance patient safety by ensuring accurate identification and appropriate medication delivery. They also assist in tracking medical equipment and managing prescription inventories.


Barcodes track parts and products through each stage of the production process, ensuring timely and correct completion. This system also manages inventory levels of raw materials and finished goods effectively.

Event Ticketing: 

Barcodes on event tickets allow for rapid entry validation, speeding up the check-in process. They also act as anti-counterfeiting measures, ensuring the authenticity of each ticket.

Shipping & Logistics: 

Barcode tagging streamlines the delivery process by tracking packages from the source to the destination. It ensures accurate, timely deliveries and provides real-time updates on package locations.

5 Step Barcode Tagging Process

The process involves several steps:

1. Creating a Unique Code: 

A unique code is generated for the item or information you wish to tag. This code is then translated into a barcode pattern.

2. Putting it on Paper (or Label): 

The generated barcode is then printed onto labels, which can be affixed to items. There are various types of barcode printers, from simple ones for small businesses to industrial ones for large operations.

3. Reading with Light: 

Barcode readers, equipped with light sensors, decode the barcode. As they scan, the reflected light is interpreted back into meaningful data.

4. Fetching the Details: 

Once scanned, the data is sent to a computer or a database, where it's matched with the corresponding item or information.

5. Synchronizing with Systems: 

Modern systems integrate barcodes with software applications, enabling tasks like real-time inventory management, sales tracking, and more.


Imagine a trendy sneaker brand named "StellaSneaks" that has just launched its latest collection. Here’s how the brand will apply our process of barcode tagging to their latest collection. 

1. Creating a Unique Code: 

Each pair of StellaSneaks is special. For their new "Galaxy Glider" model, they craft a unique code that represents this model and its specifications. This code is then converted into a visual barcode pattern.

2. Putting it on Paper (or Label): 

Before the "Galaxy Glider" sneakers hit the shelves, the StellaSneaks team ensures each box has its barcode label. Using their trusty industrial-grade printer, they print and affix the barcode to each sneaker box, ready for distribution.

3. Reading with Light: 

At "SneakerWorld," a major retailer of StellaSneaks, a customer picks up a pair of "Galaxy Gliders." At checkout, the cashier scans the barcode. The scanner's light sensor deciphers the barcode, and the details of the "Galaxy Glider" pop up on the system.

4. Fetching the Details: 

The scanner sends the decoded data to SneakerWorld's centralized computer system. Within milliseconds, it matches the barcode data with its associated sneaker model, the "Galaxy Glider," and displays the price and other relevant details on the cashier's screen.

5. Synchronizing with Systems: 

Behind the scenes, SneakerWorld's inventory software integrates with the barcode system. As the "Galaxy Glider" is sold, the software updates in real-time, noting the sale and adjusting inventory levels. StellaSneaks can then monitor sales insights and stock demand across all their retail partners.

We hope our article has now left you with a better understanding of barcode tagging and how it works.

If you enjoyed this article, you might also like our article on FNSKU barcodes or our article on GS1-128 barcodes.

Get Google Sheets productivity and automation tips delivered straight to your inbox
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
We'll email you 1-3 times a week — and never share your information.
Get your copy of our free Google Sheets automation guide!
  • 27 pages of Google Sheets tips and tricks to save time
  • Covers pivot tables and other advanced topics
  • 100% free

Work less, automate more!

Use Lido to connect your spreadsheets to email, Slack, calendars, and more to automate data transfers and eliminate manual copying and pasting. View all use cases ->