A guide to inventory scanners for efficient inventory management

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In the world of inventory management, precision is everything. 

Getting stock levels wrong or delays in order fulfillment can spell disaster, not just in terms of lost revenue, but in eroding customer trust. 

Enter barcode scanning – often referred to as an inventory scanner – a game-changing tool that helps businesses view, manage, and optimize their inventory. Think of the barcode scanner as the unsung hero behind your warehouse’s smooth operations. 

Whether you’re familiar with Linnworks or you’re just starting on your inventory management journey, this guide will provide insights into the importance of barcode scanners and how they track inventory.

Ready to revolutionize your inventory process? Let’s dive in!

How do barcode scanners work?

Impeccable inventory management is the unsung hero in the ecommerce ecosystem. Not only does it protect a retailer’s bottom line, but it also shapes the brand’s public image. 

Consider the ramifications of frequent stock-outs or shipping errors – these mishaps can dent brand reputation, resulting in missed opportunities and dwindling customer trust.

A barcode system and barcode scanners stand at the forefront of this inventory revolution. Far from just being laser tools that scan barcodes, they are pivotal to a streamlined and efficient inventory control process. 

With the power to automate stock checks and seamlessly capture data, these smart devices transform stock figures on screens into an exact representation of your warehouse’s ground reality. They serve as the digital gatekeepers of tracking inventory, making sure every product’s journey – from storage racks to a customer’s grasp – is smooth and free from errors.

Delving deeper, the tech that fuels these devices – barcodes and RFID – is equally intriguing. Enter the barcode system, while barcodes, with their distinct patterns, relay product details in seconds, RFID tags have a broader reach, allowing distant readings and even serving as deterrents against theft in certain retail contexts. 

The market offers an abundance of barcode scanner types: from the handheld variants granting mobility for store staff, to corded scanners, enabling speedy checkouts, and the advanced mobile computer versions that amalgamate scanning with other essential operations. 

For any retail setting – be it a neighborhood store or a sprawling ecommerce platform – there’s an ideal scanner waiting to elevate their inventory control game.

Are barcode inventory scanners worth it? 

In the world of retail, where every missed sale or delayed order affects the bottom line, barcode scanners are undeniably valuable. 

Their impact? A combination of heightened accuracy, time-saving warehouse automation, and clear inventory insights.

What are the benefits of using inventory scanners?

Integrating a barcode inventory scanner into your ecommerce business is like hiring an eagle-eyed inventory auditor that never sleeps. 

A barcode scanner does more than simply scan barcodes.

Their precision and relentless efficiency play a transformative role, bringing significant benefits to your retail operations, such as:

Improving accuracy and reducing manual errors

Manual stock takes and hand-written lists are charmingly old-school but come with a hefty price: human error. 

Be it a miscount, an overlooked item, or a misrecorded sale, these mistakes can be costly. 

Barcode scanners – on the other hand – provide a level of accuracy that’s near unattainable through manual methods. Every scan is a digital record, updated instantaneously, ensuring that your stock levels reflect reality down to the last unit. 

Time and cost savings through automation

Think about the hours spent on manual inventory counts – the tallying, cross-referencing, and inevitable re-counts. 

Now, imagine condensing that into mere minutes. 

That’s the magic of a barcode scanner. They simplify and speed up processes, enabling staff to focus on other pivotal tasks, from customer engagement to order fulfillment, and not just scan barcodes. And where time is saved, so is money. 

Reduced man-hours on stock-taking, minimized error-related losses, and efficient reordering processes all contribute to significant cost savings. 

Enhancing inventory tracking and real-time visibility

The retail world is dynamic, with stock levels fluctuating due to sales, returns, and restocks. 

Staying on top of these changes can be a herculean task without the right tools. 

A barcode scanner offers real-time visibility, ensuring that every product movement is captured and recorded. This real-time inventory tracking allows for proactive decision-making. 

Anticipating stock-outs, optimizing stock rotation, and understanding sales patterns become achievable with clear, up-to-date inventory insights. For decision-makers, this clarity is instrumental in driving strategies that resonate with market demands and business goals.

So, back to the question at hand: are barcode scanners worth it?

In a digital age where efficiency, accuracy, and data-driven decisions are paramount, the answer is a resounding yes. 

Key features to look for in inventory scanners

Stepping into the world of barcode scanners can be daunting for retailers as it often involves diving into a sea of tech specifications and features. 

But don’t worry, we’ve done the hard work for you here.

Compatibility with existing inventory management software

The digital age demands effortless integration. 

Your chosen barcode scanner should naturally align with your current inventory management system. This compatibility ensures a smoother, more efficient transition, eliminating issues like data mismatches or manual data entry needs. 

Think of it this way: scan items and see instantaneous updates across all systems – from sales to stock levels. Plus, as your business evolves, compatibility ensures your barcode scanner isn’t left behind but progresses in tandem with software upgrades.

Wireless connectivity options (Bluetooth, Wi-Fi)

In modern retail, freedom of movement is essential. 

Enter wireless connectivity and the cordless scanner. Gone are the days of being cable-bound; wireless barcode scanners, whether through Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, elevate mobility. 

Bluetooth serves well in more confined spaces, offering fluid movement and on-the-go updates. For expansive environments or broader device connections, Wi-Fi is the indispensable cordless scanner. With real-time data uploads to cloud-based inventory systems, stock updates are instantaneous, irrespective of location. 

The added bonus? A wireless barcode scanner means a decluttered space devoid of cable chaos.

Battery life and durability for different operational environments

From quaint boutiques to sprawling warehouses, each setting demands distinct barcode scanner features. 

Battery life becomes pivotal: extended operational hours require a laser scanner that doesn’t falter. Aim for long-lasting batteries or rapid charging options. 

Durability, too, is non-negotiable. Retail can be rough drops, dust, and moisture – your barcode scanner should endure it all. Robust build quality paired with resistance features guarantees not just a long lifespan for barcode scanners but relentless efficiency amidst routine challenges.

Integrating a barcode scanner with Linnworks

Warehouse systems integration with Linnworks

Combining the prowess of a robust laser scanner with the sophistication of a platform like Linnworks can be transformative. 

Linnworks stands tall as a premier inventory management software, and integrating it with a scanner amplifies its capabilities. 

Here’s your concise guide on achieving this synergy, ensuring your business thrives with accurate, real-time inventory management, thanks to laser scanners.

Pre-integration checklist

Before delving into the integration process, ensure:

  • Your barcode scanner is charged and powered on
  • Linnworks Mobile is installed on your scanning device
  • You have the necessary login credentials handy

Integration steps

  • Scanner selection: launch Linnworks Mobile and navigate to the ‘Settings’ menu. Here, select ‘Scanner Settings’ and choose your barcode inventory scanner from the list of available devices. If your scanner isn’t immediately visible, ensure it’s paired with your mobile device through Bluetooth or connected via Wi-Fi
  • Configuration: within ‘Scanner Settings’, configure the scanner’s behavior. This can include settings like vibration feedback upon successful scans, enabling the camera for barcode reading, and configuring the scanner trigger button
  • Role assignment: assign roles to the scanner within Linnworks. Depending on your operational needs, this could be for order dispatch, stock counting, or item identification. Navigate to ‘Settings’ and then to ‘Role Assignment’, choosing the appropriate functions
  • Linking to dispatch console: for those focusing on order dispatch, integrate the scanner with the dispatch console. This ensures scanned items are automatically matched with orders, streamlining the dispatch process. Within Linnworks, navigate to ‘Order Dispatch’, select ‘Scanner Settings’, and confirm the link
  • Testing: before full-fledged operations, test the scanner. Scan a few items and ensure they correctly reflect within Linnworks. Adjust settings or configurations if necessary, ensuring a smooth integration

Post-integration tips

  • Regularly update Linnworks Mobile to benefit from new features and improved scanner integration capabilities
  • For issues during integration, consult Linnworks’ detailed documentation or reach out to their support

Integrating barcode scanners with Linnworks is a straightforward affair, but the resultant synergy is powerful.

With the right setup, businesses can ensure that every item, sale, or dispatch is captured with unmatched accuracy. It’s about arming your business with tools that speak the same language, driving efficiency at every turn.

Choosing the right inventory scanner for your business

Selecting the perfect laser scanner for your business isn’t merely about the latest tech or highest ratings; it’s about matching functionality to your unique operational needs.

Let’s unravel how you can make an informed choice:

Identify your needs

Consider your business’s scale, industry, and specific requirements. 

A bustling ecommerce giant might need an advanced barcode scanner with high-speed scanning capabilities, while a boutique shop might prioritize ease of use and design.

Industry standards

Certain sectors may have specific needs. For example, perishable goods stores might require laser scanners that can process expiration dates or cold storage barcodes.

Compare and contrast barcode scanners

Here’s a quick snapshot of the best barcode scanners:

Zebra DS2208

Best for Versatility

  • Pros: a 2D barcode scanner acclaimed for its adaptability. Whether scanning barcodes from mobile phones for e-tickets or high-density barcodes for retail tags, this tool doesn’t skip a beat. User-friendly with its plug-and-play design, it’s robust enough to endure daily retail wear and tear.
  • Cons: for businesses that only need basic 1D barcode scanning, it may offer more than necessary, reflected in its slightly steeper price.

Honeywell Voyager 1200g

Best for high-volume retail

  • Pros: known for its unfailing accuracy – even with damaged or low-quality barcodes –  it’s a retail favorite. The automatic in-stand detection offers convenient hands-free operation – a cashier’s dream.
  • Cons: it’s 1D scanning-centric. While excellent in a retail setting, it may fall short for businesses transitioning to QR codes or wanting to scan from digital screens.

Motorola Symbol LS2208

Best for everyday use

  • Pros: this scanner stands out for its high durability and consistent performance. It offers a comfortable ergonomic design, optimal for cashiers handling continuous scanning. Quick deployment and an intuitive scanning process make it a retail staple.
  • Cons: it’s primarily designed for 1D barcodes, so businesses wanting future-proof flexibility with 2D codes might want to look elsewhere

Your retail setting deserves the best. 

When choosing a scanner, reflect on your store’s demands, the types of barcodes you encounter, and the daily scan volume.

Each hardware and scanner has its forte; pick the one that aligns with your retail aspirations.

Elevate your retail journey 

The right tools can make all the difference in retail. 

Barcode scanners play an instrumental role in streamlining operations, driving accuracy, and fostering efficiency. From understanding their mechanics to exploring top-tier models, it’s evident that the world of inventory management has been revolutionized by these devices. 

But a scanner is just a part of the bigger picture. 

Pairing it with a robust system like Linnworks can amplify its potential, ensuring that every scan translates into actionable data, optimized workflows, and satisfied customers.

Ready to experience this transformation firsthand? Dive into a quick self-guided product tour and witness Linnworks in action.


Claire Rhodes


Enthusiastic tech translator. Ecommerce storyteller. Claire has worked in the B2B SaaS and tech space for the last 6+ years. With a love for words, grammar and tech, she prides herself on her product know-how and the inner workings of the complex solutions her clients offer. When not crafting B2B tech content, Claire spends her time traveling around the world, freediving, scuba diving, and making friends with the local critters.