How are QR codes transforming the supply chain industry?

Written by Mohammad Salman Hossain on January 13, 2022

QR Code: What makes it different from a regular barcode? The answer to the question lies in the open scenario where it has already started revolutionizing the supply chain industry. A simple upgrade from the regular barcodes can open doors to opportunities and utilities that a company might be struggling to achieve. In this article, we will dive into exactly why QR codes are so huge for the supply chain industry and how it is creating a massive shift.

What is a QR Code?

A QR code or Quick Response code is generally a special 2 dimensional square-shaped barcode that is used to store information or data.

It can be regarded as a near-flawless bridge between online media and offline hands-on work. A QR code can contain a huge amount of information in it, from product details such as part numbers, serial numbers, batches to its history and dates as well. It makes product management a lot more effective and improves the tracking experience exponentially. The wide range of relevant information that can be stored in it is what makes it so convenient.

Why use QR code?

A QR code has the capacity to store massive amounts of product information in it. This in itself is a very useful aspect to its supply chain application. It is also very easy to generate and read with a few simple tools. All that is needed is a smartphone that can scan the code. Moreover, it is able to trigger many actions on the smartphone that scans it. It can be a tutorial video on how to use the product in question, it can be contact info for the company that is selling it. It can also be product info, tracking info and a lot more. Due to its simplicity, the benefits that it offers can change the process flow of a business entirely.

How is QR code used in supply chain management?

The original purpose of QR codes was solely for convenient inventory management. Starting from the storage and warehouses to the customer, QR codes can make product information management a lot easier and keep them updated in real-time. Its storage capacity enables it to contain a huge amount of information and encode multiple types of data. QR codes are also very accessible as it eliminates the use of conventional barcode scanners, which were needed to scan packages. These scanners are bulky, are expensive and require manual data input, which makes it prone to human error. On the other hand, all a QR code needs is a smartphone that can scan it and it will do its work automatically.

The range of benefits branches out in more than one way. Some of them are:

  • Inventory Convenience: In the inventory, the efficiency QR code provides is unmatched. The moment it is scanned, it provides updates in the inventory management system immediately. As a result, any sort of purchase takes mere seconds to be reflected in the records without mistake. Additionally, when a product is being returned, a simple and quick QR code scan can bring back details of the product. This saves a lot of time and effort for the management that is working in the inventory.
  • Complete traceability: QR code for supply chain management works wonders. Companies using QR codes for supply chain management are bound to see increased and eased up workflow in their management. The time efficiency it provides is unmatched. It automates the task of manual product tracking and record keeping. It works as a bridge between the physical product and the supply chain management system. This means any sort of details regarding the product can be tracked from the inventory, no matter how small it may be. This gives maximum traceability and minimizes the chances of anything going wrong at any point in the supply chain.
  • Easy Setup: QR codes require almost no setup compared to the use of conventional barcodes. There are a bunch of tools now available online that lets you generate QR codes very easily for free!
  • Automization: QR codes eliminate any sort of paperwork that might be needed for product updates. It automates data storage, improves the flow of information and transparency of the supply chain management process from one end to another. The manual workload is released and required workforce personnel needed for this management can be invested somewhere else.

As for how QR code is used, it is usually printed on to the product packaging, or on a separate sticker that will be stuck on to the designated product. The code is then on and ready to work, as simple as that. Once a QR code is labeled on a product, it can be immediately traced back to wherever it may be in the supply chain. It works as a complete identification and tracking method all by itself. QR codes bring major utility to the process.

How has QR code changed the entire supply chain scenario?

QR codes open up a lot of opportunities for end-to-end inventory management of a business. One of the major changes it brings is in data management. QR codes allow real time management of data for any product that it is stuck on to. Authorized employees can track, update, or remove products from the main system. Customers can also view info about the product at any time of its life cycle and if a purchase is made, that is updated immediately as well.

It also takes away the need for bulky hardware that is usually required for barcode scanning. No matter where you may be, the only requirement needed to scan a QR code is your smartphone.

A huge part of the utility provided by it comes with its storage capacity. A small QR code can contain huge amounts of information. It can also have legal signatures or additional records about the product in it. It can also redirect the user to a video, a web page, a tutorial or a receipt too.

The ease of paperwork saves copious amounts of time that is usually spent in manual work. No manual work also means no human errors, making the entire process fluent and as accurate as it comes.

With all these utilities jam-packed into it, QR codes can be an invaluable addition to a business's supply chain management and tracking. Companies using QR codes for supply chain management have seen positive results and its increasing popularity is undeniable proof of its value.