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Uses for Bar Code Scanners

When was the last time you visited a retail store without seeing bar code scanners? Chances are, you probably never have done so.

From retail stores to office buildings to just about everywhere else, bar code scanners have become an important tool in the modern world. What are some uses for these devices?

Point of Sale

Next time you check out at a retail store, the items that you purchase will almost certainly be scanned with a bar code scanner. This allows the clerk to view the price and other information and generally helps tally up the total cost of all products.

Inventory Tracking

Have you ever ordered an item online and tracked it through the shipping process? If so, chances are that it’s tracking information was recorded through the use of bar code scanners. 

Other businesses use bar code scanners, as well. These include warehouses and any other type of business that can benefit from inventory tracking. You may even see grocery store employees using bar code scanners to scan items while on the shelves – not just at cash registers.


Before the Internet went mainstream, you’d either have to check out newspaper ads or drive from store to store to comparison shop. Even after the Internet went mainstream, you’d still have to sit at your computer to comparison shop from home before heading out, unless you wanted to spend all day driving from store to store.

Now, bar code scanners allow customers to scan items (via a mobile phone) at a particular store and compare prices to nearby stores as well as online retailers. So, next time a sales rep. at a store tells you that his store’s deal is better than the rest, you can instantly prove him right or wrong.

Also, some stores have installed bar code scanners for customers to scan items with. This can be helpful when a price-tag is missing or to verify that a posted sale is still valid.

Tracking Documents

Bar code scanners can be used in conjunction with certain document imaging systems. The documents are given bar codes and tracked through the use of these devices. Effectively, this is a means of inventory control, only for documents instead of typical inventory items such as parts or consumer goods.


In the ever-evolving world of technology, it may seem odd that bar code scanners have maintained their relevance over several decades. Technologies that are in high-demand one day can quickly become obsolete. However, given the information that their usage can provide, bar code scanners will probably be around for a while.

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