inventory management

How to easily manage your inventory using QR codes

Ever wondered if it was possible to use QR codes to track your stock? In this article, we'll show you exactly how you can use these little handy images to track and manage your raw material and product inventory.

QR codes, or Quick Response codes, are a great way to keep an accurate and reliable inventory of your materials and products. They provide a unique code for each item that can be scanned with any smartphone device - making inventory tracking easier than ever before.

In this article, we’ll explore the advantages of inventory management with QR codes, how it compares to using a traditional barcoding system, and any potential drawbacks with using them.

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The history of QR codes

QR codes have been in use since 1994, when they were developed by Denso Wave for inventory control.

They quickly gained traction for their quick and easy way to store data, and today are used extensively by companies around the world for inventory tracking.

The advantages of inventory management using QR codes

One of the main advantages of inventory management with QR codes is their ease-of-use. You can simply scan a code with any smartphone device and have the inventory data instantly accessible. This makes inventory tracking much faster and more efficient than traditional methods such as barcoding, where it’s necessary to have a specialised equipment and software to read and scan these codes.

QR codes are also highly secure and can be encoded with specific inventory details, such as the item’s name, price, quantity and date of purchase. This makes it easy to track inventory across multiple locations without worrying about data being lost or compromised.

Finally, QR codes are small in size and can easily fit on any inventory label. This allows you to easily add inventory tracking to any item, no matter how small or large it is.

The 2020 pandemic has hastened the transition to QR codes and inventory management with QR codes, with many governments utilizing these codes to provide public health tracking systems. This has led to a wider awareness of QR codes among the general public.

How do I use a QR code?

First thing you need is a smartphone (like an iPhone or an Android phone). If you have a recent version of a smartphone, it will most likely have a built in QR code reader - this is usually available as part of your camera.

If not, navigate to the place you usually download apps and search for “QR reader”. There are now many apps that are QR readers on the market now - some are free and others you may have to pay a small amount for (depending on their features).

QR codes vs. Barcodes

Barcoding systems have been used for inventory tracking since the 1970s and are still widely used today. However, they are becoming less popular as QR codes become more prevalent.

One of the main differences between barcodes and QR codes is their functionality. Barcodes are only able to store basic inventory data such as item name and quantity, whereas QR codes can store much more information, including inventory details, customer data, product images, and even links to online inventory management systems.

In addition, QR codes are much more secure than barcodes and can be encoded with specific inventory details, making it more difficult for data to be lost or compromised.

Potential drawbacks of inventory management with QR codes

Although inventory management with QR codes has many advantages, there are a few potential drawbacks to consider.

QR codes require the use of a smartphone device to scan the code and access inventory data, so you’ll want to ensure that all staff that are required to use your QR inventory system have access to one.

To read the encoded data in the QR code, an internet connection or cellular signal needs to exist. This can be an issue in areas with low signal or no internet access. In addition, QR codes cannot be read by all types of inventory scanners, so be sure to check the compatibility of your inventory scanner before using QR codes.

Finally, QR codes are only as accurate as the inventory data encoded into them, so it’s important to ensure inventory data is accurate and up-to-date for QR codes to be effective.

How can I use QR codes to organise my inventory?

Craftybase is Inventory management software that automatically generates QR codes for all your raw materials and products, so you should start factoring this into your workflow.

Once you have everything tagged, it should be a case of scanning the code with your phone to access the material records, where you can then update your inventory - much easier than scraps of paper or complicated excel spreadsheets!

Try our software for free for 14 days to see how you can use QR codes to better organize your stock.


Inventory management with QR codes can provide many advantages over traditional barcoding systems, particularly for small businesses that cannot afford costly barcode scanning equipment.

QR codes are easy to use, secure, and can be encoded with specific inventory details. They are also small in size and can fit on any inventory label.

Nicole Pascoe Nicole Pascoe - Profile

Written by Nicole Pascoe

Nicole is the co-founder of Craftybase, inventory and manufacturing software designed for small manufacturers. She has been working with, and writing articles for, small manufacturing businesses for the last 12 years. Her passion is to help makers to become more successful with their online endeavors by empowering them with the knowledge they need to take their business to the next level.