What is the best barcode scanner for inventory management?

It’s the simple tool that many small businesses overlook until inaccuracies start to creep into inventory records: a barcode scanner. Using a barcode scanner for small business inventory management can help with stocktaking, stock organizing, and knowing when to reorder.

From wireless barcode scanners to Bluetooth barcode scanners and everything in between, there are a lot of options to choose from. Here are some of the main considerations to make, and some of the barcode scanners we think are the best in the business.

Wireless barcode scanners

How to choose a barcode scanner and software

When weighing up your options for a barcode scanner, there are a few main features to consider:

Hardware

Barcode scanners typically have one of three types of scanning hardware:

  1. Laser – This is the most well-known scanner type. It uses a laser to read the reflectance of the black and white spaces in a barcode.
  1. Linear imager – Like laser scanners, linear imager barcode scanners only read 1D barcodes, but they do so by taking a picture of the barcode and analyzing information in the image.
  1. 2D area imagers – These scanners work like linear imagers, except that they can read stacked and 2D barcodes. They can also scan barcodes in any direction.

The type of products you need to scan and the type of barcode you use should dictate the type of hardware you need. For example, if you use UPC codes, a laser scanner could do the trick. If you use stacked barcodes, you’ll need to choose a scanner with compatible hardware. And, if you hold stock in a tough environment such as in an industrial warehouse or a manufacturing facility, it may be worth investing in an industrial barcode scanner.

Software

Most barcode readers today don’t require any specific software or drivers to be installed to send barcode information to a computer. Usually, a barcode scanner will send the data from the barcode to a computer in the same way a keyboard sends keystrokes.

However, there are specialty barcode scanner apps for computers available that can read the image of a barcode and decode it for you. TradeGecko, for example, allows you to do a stocktake using a barcode scanner (but more on that later). Most importantly, when you purchase a barcode scanner, make sure it’s compatible with any software you use to manage your inventory.

Portability

Keep in mind that if you want portability from your handheld barcode scanner, you should look for one with wireless connectivity. Also, remember that not all cordless barcode scanners are created equal. Some function without being tethered to a power source but may not transmit data wirelessly to your central database. If you need to be able to capture and update data on the go, choose a Bluetooth-enabled barcode scanner.

Barcode scanner for small business

Top 5 barcode scanners for inventory 2018

Best budget barcode scanner: Brainydeal USB Automatic Barcode Scanner

With its ease of use and practical design, this barcode scanner is hard to look past for those who need a basic solution. It features automatic scanning with a scan rate of up to 100 scans per second.

Pros:

  • Low price
  • Easy to set up

Cons:

  • Limited features
  • No wireless functionality

Best wireless barcode scanner: NADAMOO Bur3003 433Mhz Wireless Barcode Scanner

If you need to scan items on the go, this cordless barcode scanner delivers solid performance both indoors and outdoors. Installation is straightforward and simply requires plugging it into the USB port of your computer.

Pros:

  • Wireless scanning
  • Two pairing modes
  • Up to 100,000 barcodes can be stored in offline mode

Cons:

  • Moderately slow response time

Best USB barcode scanner: Orbit Honeywell MS7120 Barcode Reader with USB

The Orbit Honeywell POS scanner boasts lots of features and super-fast scanning speed. It produces laser light in an omnidirectional pattern, so it can work with one-dimensional barcodes and decode them at different angles.

Pros:

  • Fast scanning speed
  • Omnidirectional laser pattern for scanning at angles

Cons:

  • Pricier than some other models

Best Bluetooth barcode scanner: TaoTronics TT-BS030US 2-in-1 Bluetooth & Wired Barcode Scanner

This scanner has a handy 2-in-1 design that allows for wireless Bluetooth connectivity or a wired connection. It supports virtually all barcode types, including UPC/EAN, Code39, Coda Bar, ISBN, ISSN, and others.

Pros:

  • 2-in-1 connectivity
  • Long-lasting battery
  • Fast scanning speed

Cons:

  • Pricier than some other models

Best industrial barcode scanner: Zebra LI3678-SR Ultra-Rugged Cordless 1D Barcode Scanner

For those who need a barcode scanner in rugged conditions or extreme temperatures such as a manufacturing facility exposed to dust or a refrigerated warehouse, this industrial barcode scanner offers durability as well as all of the features you’d expect from a quality barcode scanner.

Pros:

  • Ultra-rugged – dustproof, spray proof, waterproof with the highest drop, tumble and sealing specification
  • Extreme temperature rating
  • Wireless design

Cons:

  • Comparatively expensive (however this is typical for an industrial scanner)

Barcode scanner and software

How to do a stocktake on TradeGecko using a barcode scanner

With TradeGecko, you can do a manual stocktake or a stocktake with a barcode scanner. If you have set up barcodes for your products in TradeGecko, doing a stocktake is as simple as scanning the item on the Stocktake page, and it will automatically adjust the quantity of the product scanned. You can also switch from barcode scanning mode to manual stocktake mode by clicking on ‘Manual stocktake’. This will allow you to continue doing a stocktake without losing any information.

Find out more about doing a barcode scanner stocktake with TradeGecko, and try it for yourself with a free 14-day trial of our inventory management software.

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