Barcoding Physical Inventory Counts

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When entering Physical Inventory counts you can hand-type the Sku numbers or you can scan the bar-coded Sku numbers.


Visit the computer hardware page for some example model numbers



Note that several people can enter physical counts at the same time. You can also use a combination of some people typing or scanning the Sku's directly into the physical inventory list, while others could scan Sku's into a text file to be imported later.


We'll briefly cover three types of "Hand-held scanners."


*) Most common and most inexpensive, normal wired models are connected to the USB port of the computer by a cable of about 4 to 6 feet. They act like keyboards typing a Sku number fast. Computer programs see no difference between you typing on a keyboard or scanning. These have no memory and have no intelligence or data collecting powers. To use this for physical inventory you need to be at the Shopkeeper screen which is waiting for a Sku number.


*) Wireless blue-tooth readers are like the wired models above except that they're wireless with a range of perhaps 30 feet. Again, no memory or data collecting powers and Shopkeeper has to be waiting for the Sku number. You have to watch out because if you're 30 feet away you may not clearly see the Shopkeeper screen! (To be sure you're not scanning at a moment it's not ready which would cause problems.)


*) Portable data collectors. These have a reader and a small amount of memory and computing power. They're used to collect data which you later download into a text file on the computer. Shopkeeper can read the text file into the Physical Inventory counts. Portable data collectors can be quite efficient and let you take physical inventory in-place but they are fairly expensive and take a bit of programming/configuration.


You can mix the three methods: text file import, scanning barcodes into the physical inventory screen and typing Sku numbers into the physical inventory screen.


An interesting approach to economize *and* be more flexible is to use a small (existing) notebook/netbook computer along with an inexpensive wired barcode reader. Plug the barcode reader into the notebook to emulate a portable data collector by reading the list of Sku's into a word processor (actually Notepad.) Be sure to save the Notepad list often with Ctrl-S. Use short (eight or fewer characters) names such as C:\PHYSINV1.TXT, C:\PHYSINV2.TXT, etc.

You need one Sku number per line so it's useful to temporarily configure the barcode reader to add an "<Enter>" after each Sku. This is often called a suffix and you have to scan some codes in the barcode reader on to turn this on.



In addition, when you're not taking physical inventory you can connect the wired reader into a computer and use it to scan Sku number barcodes to make sales or other adjustments.

When you use the reader directly at the computer in Shopkeeper you want to turn OFF the <Enter> suffix.


For wired barcode models, the Metrologic MS 9541 USB or MS9540 USB have worked well. The 9541 is technically the high-density one for small barcodes but it's discontinued and may be hard to find. However the 9540 is fine too.


These can be used in hands-free mode where you keep the reader in stand and pass the barcode under the  reader. Or you can lift the reader out of the stand and "point and shoot".