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A brief look at the convenience and benefits that barcode technology provides to consumers and business.

Barcode technology first made an appearance in the world of retail in the early 1970s. From that point on this technology has helped improve customer service by changing the way businesses look at customers and by improving the overall experience of the customer.

At first, barcodes were used primarily in grocery stores. This allowed the store managers to more efficiently track the products that were being sold and allowed them to more easily reorder popular products. This limited the frequency a customer would arrive at a store only to find their favorite product had been sold out. Additionally, it allowed cashiers or other customer service personnel to quickly find the price of any given item. Each of these contributed to a more pleasant shopping experience for the consumer.

Once the concept began to gain popularity in grocery stores other areas of the retail sector began implementing the barcode technology as well. Eventually, barcodes were incorporated into almost all forms of retail transactions. The barcodes allow transactions to be made more quickly and with great accuracy speeding the time the customer must spend in line to purchase a product.

In addition to improving the accuracy of cost and the speed at which a consumer can complete his or her shopping, barcode technology has also served to reduce the cost of data entry. With barcode technology there is an obvious reduction of lost revenue. When an item has a barcode it is not possible for an employee to improperly charge for that item. This protects the customer and reduces the overall cost of the item because lost revenue due to errors does not have to be factored into the cost of the item. Also, inventory can be maintained at a level that is reasonable for consumer demand. Being able to accurately track what consumers want and ordering accordingly reduces the amount of storage needed and the amount of inventory that is wasted due to unexpectedly low consumer demand. All of these combine to lower the overhead of the company and the end price for the consumer.

Once barcodes were entrenched in the retail sector they began to spread to other industries, such as health. Hospitals now routinely add a barcode to a patient's identification bracelet and file. These can be used to make sure the patient is receiving the correct medication and procedures. This allows often overworked nurses and hospital employees to move through routine tasks with a greater sense of security and provides an additional oversight for patient well being. Barcodes are also used to help store and sort patient data so physicians can easily access pertinent information that can be critical to a timely and successful treatment in emergency situations.

It is easy to take for granted barcode technology and ignore the huge impact it has had on the culture of customer service. However, more uses are being discovered for this technology and it is becoming more ingrained in daily life to the benefit of all consumers. With the assistance of barcode technology, company and hospital mistakes and waste may soon become a thing of the past.

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