Barcodes are Your Best Friend for Process Improvement


    I was pleasantly surprised by my recent visit to a Target Store here in California. I wanted to return something.

    I have never seen product returns go faster and easier than how they do it here. They scanned the barcode on the receipt, scanned the barcode on the product and the register spewed the return receipt and the credit was back on my Mastercard! It took all of 3 seconds!

    That’s a terrific improvement on the Return Process and it has been made possible, only because of barcodes!

    I still remember processes that stores like Target used to have, even about five years ago. You needed to fill out a form wih your name, address, phone  number, etc,. It took almost ten minutes to do the whole thing, not to talk about the waiting in line.

    Now it is all of 3 seconds! It is customary to see long lines at the Customer Service counter or Returns/Exchanges counters at most stores right after Christmas. Stores staff up extra people to do these tasks and I bet that Target needed a whole lot less people this Christmas season to get the same work done! Elimination of time wasted by customers, store clerks and overall benefits all around!

    Bar codes are incredibly useful in eliminating waste in many business processes and are simple to set up and use for the most part. I have seen them used extensively these days on the manufacturing floor, especially in automobile assembly lines. They track assemblies, sub-assemblies through the manufacturing floor. I have seen them affixed using stickers to documents and scanned quickly for computers to generate acknowledgement of receipt of documents.

    Amazingly simple but very effective!

    The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak. – Hans Hoffman


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