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Supply chain industries rely on barcode labeling software for a variety of uses, such as creating barcodes for labels, product labels, shipping labels, and more.
There are many barcode labeling software solutions, ranging from simple to complex, and a variety of different providers offer solutions. However, not all barcode labeling software or providers are created equal. Important things to consider when choosing barcode labeling software include label design features and integrations, scalability, regulatory compliance, supported printer drivers, customer support and product training opportunities, licensing options, and implementation process.
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Below are seven questions to ask a barcode labeling software provider to help you choose barcode labeling software that best fits your business's needs.
This question helps determine whether the potential solution can grow with your business. Many small businesses start out with the simplest, lowest-cost labeling software they can find that’s easy enough to “set it and forget it”. When profit margins are thin, keeping costs low is a high priority. But business growth can significantly impact your labeling processes, requiring scalability.
The key is to choose a software provider that offers various levels of software – for basic to complex label design needs, print automation, label traceability, or label management – with a seamless path between each application, so your company can grow into increasingly robust solutions without disruption. Finding a barcode labeling partner with label conversion tools or services and forward label compatibility allows you to find the best solutions as your business needs change without being faced with needing to recreate all your labels.
It’s also important that you select an off-the-shelf product that easily connects to hardware (printers, scanners, scales, etc.) and integrates with other business systems such as local or cloud databases, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems, Warehouse Management Systems (WMS), or inventory tracking systems. A fully integrated barcode labeling solution offers many benefits across the organization, including simplified use and maintenance, improved return on investment (ROI) on existing infrastructure, and increased efficiency and accuracy through automation.
Depending on your business needs and internal processes, make sure the barcode labeling software you choose can connect and pull data from databases like Excel (online or desktop app), Access, SQL, or Google Sheets, and easily integrate with ERP systems, including:
If you have international requirements, look for a software provider with a global footprint that can offer additional levels of support and service for global operations.
Compliance labeling is critical for manufacturers and distributors in many industries. From Unique Device Identification (UDI) or Medical Device Regulation (MDR) labeling for medical devices to Globally Harmonized System (GHS) labeling for chemicals to Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) compliance and nutrition labeling for food and beverage products, there are a wide variety of labeling requirements. In the cannabis industry, an exciting new market that’s moving forward quickly and globalizing rapidly, labeling regulations vary by country or state and continue to develop.
In highly regulated industries like medical device manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, and life sciences, regulatory authorities like the United States Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Union (EU) have guidelines related to process validation to confirm a company’s processes will result in reliable outputs and meet all necessary quality standards. If this is your company, finding a company that can help accelerate the validation of your labeling processes will save you time and valuable resources.
Companies also need labeling software that offers a variety of barcode symbologies and complex barcodes such as Health Industry Barcodes (HIBC), Global Trade Identification Number codes (GTIN), and GS1 Databar. It is important to find a solution that offers pre-configured label samples and templates to easily comply with industry standards and regulatory requirements.
Keeping labels and labeling processes compliant with various government, industry, and supply chain requirements can be complex. You need a barcode labeling system that equips you with the tools to make labeling accurate, efficient, and scalable.
Software providers with strong technology partnerships offer access to a broad range of printer drivers, which means you have more options when selecting or switching printers.
Keeping your current and future hardware requirements in mind, ask whether the software provider offers Windows or native (embedded) printer drivers. Windows printer drivers are compatible with a wide variety of software but are not developed specifically to print barcode labels. Native printer drivers are developed to work specifically with a software application and built into the software.
Many barcode labeling systems using Windows printer drivers claim to create high quality barcodes, but only native printer drivers can guarantee the best quality and optimized printer performance:
Barcode labeling software with native label printer drivers and ongoing driver development also gives you the ability to retain label design quality when switching printers.
It’s important to have access to resources when you need them. This starts during the research phase:
Look for software providers that offer virtual or on-site training for the employees who work closely with the application, plus access to resources like:
This will help you easily learn how to use the software, train new users, and educate team members on updates and new features. By equipping your internal resources to use the barcode labeling software effectively, you can be sure you’re getting the most from your investment.
Consider the number of licenses, your workstation environment (i.e., access to the internet or not), and your budget when purchasing labeling software. When you choose a software provider that offers various licensing or purchasing options, you can adapt to changes in your labeling process more easily.
Subscription licensing options allow you to use the software with a lower up-front cost while offering flexibility for future licensing needs. Look for a provider with a licensing option or software maintenance agreement that includes version upgrades to protect your investment and ensure you stay current with the latest software enhancements to minimize the risk of production downtime.
Your chosen software provider should make recommendations based not only on your immediate needs, but also according to your future needs based on projected growth. This can lead to a different software choice and can impact the configuration of your software during the installation process.
When discussing the implementation process, be sure to work through what resources your software provider can provide to support the project and how the process will work with your internal team members. An established software provider will have extensive experience installing labeling solutions at a wide range of companies and can help create a realistic timeline for your implementation project. This should also include the label conversion process and any necessary integration points, whether with external databases, ERP systems, or other applications.
Having built-in software features that allow you to use the product the day you bought it can speed up your processes, remove manual steps that waste time, and get you on your feet faster. Helpful wizards built into the software help get you labeling quickly and can be used for everything from selecting a printer, to database setup, to 2D barcode configuration – all in a straightforward process. Having a feature-rich barcode labeling software allows you to get more value upfront and turning a profit faster.
The best way to measure a software provider’s success rate is by hearing directly from its existing customers. This could come in the form of customer testimonials or case studies. These stories help provide proof of the software provider’s success on similar or more complex installations. If the software provider was able to handle these projects, yours should be successful as well.
The process of evaluating and choosing a barcode labeling software can feel overwhelming, but if you ask the right questions and come prepared with your labeling requirements, a good provider can help you quickly determine which software is the best fit for your business. Take the time to fully assess your existing processes and tools to determine where improvements can be made, and make sure your barcode labeling software provider can address your industry-specific needs.
Not sure where to start? Contact TEKLYNX. We can help you identify the right barcode labeling software solution to fit your business or steps you can take to improve your labeling environment.
Nick Recht is the Sales Manager for the Americas region at TEKLYNX, RFID and barcode label solution provider. He leverages his passion for using technology to add value to businesses and his 12 years of AIDC experience to help organizations of all sizes barcode better. When he is not working, he is driving one of his daughters to a practice of some sort or making/sampling beer from his garage brewery.
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