Cost of Poor Barcode Quality

Torn and defaced 1D barcodes

As a consumer, you’ve probably witnessed a cashier at a retail store attempting to scan a barcode several times before giving up and typing in the UPC code manually. Now imagine what happens in manufacturing and logistics industries when poor barcode quality halts a production line or an inbound receiving tunnel. There are several direct and indirect barcode quality costs to try to avoid if your products and shipments rely on barcodes. How? Barcode verifiers


There are several reasons why a barcode won’t scan: low contrast, distortion, quiet zone violations, and print quality. Codes that can’t be scanned can halt production and cost your company thousands of dollars in decreased throughput and manual rework. Barcode verifiers assign an overall grade to barcodes based on several quality parameters: 

  • Symbol contrast 
  • Modulation
  • Pattern damage
  • Decodability 

By monitoring verification results, code issues can be identified when quality starts to decline and you can take corrective action right away to prevent or eliminate downtime. 

Chargebacks and refused shipments 

A chargeback is a fine or financial penalty issued by a retailer like Walmart, Amazon, or Target for supplier noncompliance of retailer requirements. If a label is improperly placed or can’t be scanned, a chargeback is issued in an attempt to recoup the retailer’s cost of re-labeling or refusing the shipments altogether. Fines like this can shave off upwards of 10% of a supplier’s overall revenue. Barcode verifiers ensure that codes on products and shipments can be read by any barcode scanner along the supply chain before leaving a facility. The verification software also provides quality reports to prove barcode quality if necessary. 

Product safety 

Many industries with product safety concerns, such as food and beverage, medical devices, and automotive, use barcodes for tracking and tracing items, and have industry group quality standard guidelines that must be met. For example, the United States Food and Drug Administration (US FDA) mandated that all medical devices contain a Unique Device Identifier (UDI). A UDI is a barcode containing a specific set of information. The ruling requires that all medical devices be labeled with a barcode graded according to GS1 or HIBCC rules. Barcodes in these industries are critical in the case of product safety recalls. Barcode verifiers and software report on code quality parameters and validate data for conformance to industry group quality standards, ensuring product traceability. 


Poor barcode quality can affect your company’s reputation. Your customers and consumers might stop doing business with you altogether if bad barcodes repeatedly cause delayed shipments, are non-compliant, or fail to safely track products. You might already monitor the quality of your codes using process control metrics (PCM) and data validation software on barcode readers. Though a step in the right direction, this is not true verification and can leave you unprotected down the supply chain. Validation looks only at the format of the data within a code and does not check print quality. And while PCM tests the same quality parameters as verification, results are unique to a reader’s particular setup and will only tell you if that reader can read the code, instead of knowing if every scanner along the supply chain can read it. Barcode verifiers are the only effective way to ensure barcode quality. 

Implementing barcode verification into your process can help prevent downtime, reduce chargebacks, ensure product safety, and keep your reputation intact. To learn more about barcode quality, watch the free on-demand webinar: Understanding Barcode Verification Results

Naomi Brown

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