Inventory management using Barcode scanners and printers has been a key element of many businesses for a long, long time. There are a number of very good QuickBooks add-on products that provide support for barcodes, but Intuit has always ignored this feature. Until now.
If you purchase the Advanced Inventory option for QuickBooks Enterprise V13, Intuit is introducing support for barcodes. This won’t provide everything that every business could need, but it is a good start.
This is a VERY large article, my apologies, because it is a very large topic, and I keep finding new features relating to barcodes!
This article was updated to add some information on barcode scanners on 9/24/2012
Using Barcodes in QuickBooks
This isn’t a tutorial on barcodes in general, or on how you can accomplish many of these steps in QuickBooks on your own. I may write that article in the future. In this article I’m focusing on the new feature in QuickBooks Enterprise V13. However, I need to lay some groundwork.
When we say “barcode” keep in mind that there are many different kinds of barcode “symbologies” – that is, the actual printed format of the scanable code. The information that you want to publish in a barcode format is translated to a graphic representation that can be “scanned” by a barcode scanning device. Different kinds of symbologies are used in different situations. Some symbologies can only handle numbers, some can handle numbers, letters and some symbols, others can be used for complicated data like a website URL.
Different industries use different codes, and there is a WIDE variety of codes with many variations. The Intuit solution encompasses only certain specific symbologies, so this might not work for every business.
Before you jump into barcodes, it is important to define what it is that you want to accomplish. Just saying “I want to use barcodes” doesn’t get you very far. Are you trying to label your outgoing boxes with barcodes that are compliant with your customer’s requirements? Are you trying to track the location of an item as it moves through your warehouse? Do you want to speed up your annual physical inventory count? Do you want to improve accuracy when creating invoices? There are many ways to use barcodes, and many different kinds of scanners and programs available. Think about what you want to do, first.
In a very, very general sense, there are two main issues with working with barcodes and QuickBooks:
- How will you print or create the barcodes using your QuickBooks data? Until now you had to either export your data to an outside tool, use a third party add-on to print your QB data with barcodes (such as the WaspLabeler), or futz around with “barcode fonts” in your forms, which can be a pain to deal with. With this release Intuit is providing you with a simple barcode printing feature within the program.
- How will QuickBooks read your information from the barcode? Before now you either had to import your data from an external source, use a third party add-on to get the data into QuickBooks, or futz around with a scanner that just inserts the barcode value into a field, one at a time. With this new feature Intuit has started to support easy data entry.
What Intuit is providing is a simple way to print bar codes, and a some aid in using them to get your data into QuickBooks. This is beginning barcode management, which may be enough for some businesses, but it isn’t a complete and sophisticated solution.