When you think of a barcode, you probably think of a retailer or manufacturer keeping tabs on the product they have on hand. With new technological advancements, however, barcodes are being used for a lot more than keeping track of your inventory. Here are some surprising and innovative ways that companies are using barcodes.

There’s an app for that

Shopping apps come in all shapes and sizes. Some apps transform your mobile device into a debit card, others give special discounts only available to app users. Barcode scanning apps for shopping have become increasingly popular in all industries, from retail to nutrition. Shoppers are now armed with a tool that can easily help them save money every shopping trip. Target’s Cartwheel app, for example, allows customers to scan barcodes of any product to see if there is a special promotion attached to that item. Customers then collect all the promotions for the items they’re buying in one barcode, which is then scanned at the register for instant savings. Another great example of barcode scanning apps that improve a customer’s shopping experience is Fooducate. Customers scan a grocery item’s barcode to find out more about its nutrition information and compare the item to other products to find healthier alternatives.

Helps you find Fido

You may have heard of using radio-frequency identification (RFID) in your warehouse, but have you ever thought about using this technology to find a lost pet? About 5% of the 164 million cats and dogs in America have microchips implanted in them. Although this technology cannot be used to track your pet’s location (the chips do not have GPS), they do contain helpful personal information that will help return your lost loved-one. You could also create your own QR code tag with your contact information that can easily be attached to your dog’s collar. This way, anyone who finds your dog is able to instantly collect your information on the spot using their own smartphone instead of needing a special scanner that’s unlikely to be on your person.

Keeping track of trees

Illegal logging is a huge problem in tropical forests. One company came up with an ingenious way to tell whether or not the logs were illegally sourced. Helveta created plastic barcode tags that are hammered into trees and scanned by local forest managers once the tree is cut down. This information is uploaded into a database and can be tracked throughout the supply chain. Although this may not prevent illegal logging, it will help with sustainable forestry practices. All logs that are unlabeled are considered to be illegally cut down, and the culprits are easy to track.

Make a lasting first impression

Business cards are a dime a dozen, and are often forgotten about without a second thought. One of the latest trends in business cards is to create your own custom QR code that is printed on your card. When the recipient scans the card, not only can they find out your business’s name and other information, it can also show you its contact information such as the company’s address, website, and phone number you can be reached at so you never miss a possible lead. While you may be saying this sounds pretty standard and isn’t enough to compel you to integrate this technology into your business, there’s still one main reason you need QR codes.  Because QR codes can store much more information than a tiny piece of paper, you can also include all of your social media profiles and blog, making it incredibly easy for the recipient to connect. Plus, you’ll look like a trend-setter, which can give you an upper hand against your competition.

Keeping track of lab samples

Did you know that using barcodes can help save lives? The healthcare industry has implemented barcodes in almost every aspect of their supply chain, from patient wristbands to keeping track of medications. Gone are the days that a patient’s name is scrawled onto a specimen cup and sent away to a lab via snail-mail. Barcodes are now being used in hospital pathology labs and are helping cut down on the identification of samples and patients. Why is this a big deal? Lab samples that have been incorrectly labeled may lead to erroneous test results, leading to inappropriate medication adjustments or treatments.

Are you looking for a creative way to implement barcodes into your supply chain? Schedule an appointment with one of our experts to discuss a custom solution for your company.