The Importance of Barcode Scanning Consistency


Barcode ConfusionPick up and look at any package you have received recently from a parcel carrier. Pay attention to the labels and the barcodes that appears on them.

Now, look at a package from a different carrier. One thing you will probably notice is that the carriers usually have a different number of labels on their packages. Additionally, each carrier’s placement of most labels on the package also differs. You might see additional differences, for example, some carrier’s packages will have 2D barcodes while others only have 1D barcodes.

Here is something that you won’t necessarily be able to tell by simply looking at the packages. Except for one or two barcodes on the package, the others are not directly related to the tracking ID used to identify the package.

This is important to be aware of. In order to successfully track packages, your staff must consistently scan the correct barcode for each carrier. If they don’t, here is a scenario that may inevitably occur.

Let’s say one of your staff members logs a package in the morning by scanning a barcode on it. Later, a different staff member scans the same package but uses a different barcode. Your staff will have now processed the same package two times. However, your records won’t reflect this. Instead, you will have records for having processed two unrelated items and one of those records won’t be related to an identifiable tracking ID! Not only will your records lack the full chain of custody for the package but tracking this package will also be extremely difficult.

If you are new to package tracking, this is a scenario you can easily find yourself in, especially if multiple staff members play a role in the package handling. However, with a few precautions, the problem can be easily prevented. Here are two suggestions to help:

  • Staff training. Provide your staff with training for proper package logging. Visually identify the barcode that you want them to scan on the package for each carrier. By identifying the position of the barcode on the package you want them to scan, they will start to become more aware of carrier label differences and less likely to scan a different barcode on the package. Make this as simple as possible by only identifying one target barcode per carrier package. It is important for general tracking purposes that you choose a barcode that contains the carrier’s tracking ID (you can verify this by scanning the barcode yourself, looking at the text displayed after scanning it and making sure the text read is the tracking Id or has the tracking ID embedded in it).
  • TekTrack configuration. The TekTrack software can be configured to validate barcodes scanned by your staff and can notify them when they scan the wrong ones. If you are using the TekTrack Automation module, you can take this even further and provide your staff with custom error messages depending on the barcodes that they scan.

Implement one or both of the solutions as early as possible in your package processing to ensure reliable package tracking. Best of luck with your package tracking!