Barcode Inventory System For Small Business: Using A Smartphone As A Smart Barcode Scanner

...and other smartphone capabilities that streamline inventory management, asset tracking and data collection tasks.

In the previous articles we described benefits of using QR Codes and UPC barcodes for efficient inventory and asset management, and how to track inventory using smartphone as a scanner. But scanning barcodes is not the only smartphone's capability that can be used for inventory management and asset tracking. There are other useful things that you can do using a smartphone, but not a traditional barcode scanner. You can take photos of assets / inventory and attach them to the transactions for visual documentation. You can fill out mobile forms, collect electronic signatures, and generate PDF documents with the signature included. You can automatically record GPS locations of the inventory transactions and display them on the map. As a result, barcode inventory system with a smartphone gives you much more capabilities than a system with a traditional barcode scanner.

Using Smartphones vs Hand-Held Barcode Scanners for Inventory Management

Development of the mobile technology gives us a choice for inventory and asset tracking that was non-existentent just a short time ago. Previously, if you wanted to track assets and inventory using barcodes, your only choice was to purchase barcode scanners or mobile computers, and hire an integrator / consultant to connect them to your desktop computers and inventory management software. Now you have a better choice: use smartphone as a barcode scanner for processing inventory transactions on site in real time. Using smartphones is more affordable and productive, so small businesses can easily afford and implement barcode scanning inventory management.

With smartphones your employees can process inventory transactions in the field as they happen. There is no need to be in the vicinity of the office computers any more.

There are more advantages than the price alone. With smartphones your employees can process inventory transactions in the field, on the shop floor or warehouse as they happen. There is no need to be in the vicinity of the office computers any more. Your employees do not have to share barcode scanners -- all employees have scanners in their pockets. Any employee who deals with the assets or inventory can process a transaction on the spot, as it happens by scanning qr code or barcode on the item with his / her own smartphone. Result: accurate real time inventory picture, which is an ultimate purpose of any inventory management software.

Check how you can use QR codes and a smartphone for inventory management and asset tracking.

Filling Out Mobile Forms, Looking Up Information

Often you need to record additional information on the inventory transaction. You may need to know what project or client inventory was used for, record asset conditions upon return, specify due date, etc. You also may need to look up asset information in the field - specifications, instructions, pdf documentation, inventory stock and locations. Smartphones with installed inventory management application make it all possible.

Taking Photos For Visual Documentation

There are quite a few situations when having a visual documentation during an asset transaction is really helpful. For example, you may want to document the item condition at check out and check in, and be able to compare them. You may need images to illustrate what was broken and had been repaired. Or you may need to document damages to an item to justify taking it out of inventory.
Obviosly, you cannot take photos with a barcode scanner, but you can with a smartphone. As with geolocation, taking photos can be an itegral part of an asset transaction. Your employees can scan QR code or UPC barcode on an asset, record necessary information about transaction, then take one or multiple photos - and save transaction to the server. You can then view saved images via reports, and could easily access and provide supporting documentation for asset status changes.

Tracking Inventory / Assets GPS Location

If you are having assets / inventory at multiple remote job sites, one of the main purposes of an asset tracking software for you is to monitor where each asset is located, be able to list assets at each location and track assets movement. Traditional barcode scanner will do little to help you with that. Another possible solution -- installing GPS devices on an assets and tracking them processing GPS data -- is prohibitively expensive for a small businesses.
On the other hand, smartphone with its built-in GPS location capabilities is just the right tool for the job. Assets mapping fits right into the tracking process: when an employee scans QR code or UPC barcode on an asset with a smartphone, the geolocation of an asset can be automatically determined and saved. You can then view assets locations and track asset movements on a map in real time -- without spending a fortune on extra hardware and software.

Obtaining Electronic Signature, Generating PDF Documentation

If you want an employee or customer sign off on inventory transaction, smartphone is a perfect tool to do this. You can capture signature right on the smartphone, generate pdf receipt / invoice with the signature included on the spot. You can then view pdf document, e-mail it to specified addresses or print it.

How Does It All Work Together

If you want to track assets and inventory using smartphone as a smart scanner, you need to have a mobile application that can do two things:

  • Provide an option to scan barcodes, take images, record geo-location of a transaction, capture signatures and generate PDF document
  • Communicate these data to the inventory / asset tracking system

QR Inventory is a web-based inventory / asset tracking software that comes with a mobile application with all the described capabilities. Unlike barcode scanners, that can only transmit information on what item is scanned, QR Inventory mobile application allows you to:

  • Specify any custom information you need to know about an asset / inventory transaction
  • Take and attach multiple photos
  • Add multiple items to transaction before submitting it to the server
  • Automatically determine and save geolocation where transaction took place
  • Fill out mobile forms
  • Capture electronic signature and generate PDF documents based on your template, with the signature included

As a result, you have a smart barcode scanner capable of accomplishing much more than traditional one, and for which you do not have to spend a penny - your employees can use their own devices to perform inventory transactions. Check it out!

Check how you can use QR codes and a smartphone for effective inventory management and asset tracking.


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QR Inventory and QR Mobile Data are brand names of inventory management and mobile forms software by AHG -- a provider of mobile and cloud-based applications for business. Our unified mobile platform improves business operations efficiency by eliminating manual tasks and physical paperwork, while providing a secure cloud storage for the business records, real time access to business data for all stakeholders, comprehensive data reporting and analytics. Headquartered in beautiful Boise, Idaho, AHG software is used to manage hundreds of millions of dollars annually in inventory and assets.

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