How can I print and scan bar codes?

BrokerForce™ and PocketRep™ support the printing and use of bar codes for ordering. BrokerForce supports scanning directly into a laptop or desktop while PocketRep is used with PocketPC, Windows Mobile, or Windows Smart Phone compatible devices.  Following is a discussion of how to print bar codes, how to scan them and what devices can be used to scan.
 

Bar Code Printing:
Only laser jet printers are recommended for printing bar code labels.  Ink jet printers may produce a label that can be scanned for a short while however, they are unreliable for the 3 of 9 font and the ink tends to flake off of the label so that they can't be scanned.

Bar code fonts are similar to like you would choose an Arial or Times Roman font in your word processor.  Common bar code fonts are UPCA, EAN, 3 of 9 and I two of 5.

 
Always print a test page on ordinary paper before printing on label stock.  It is much less expensive to test on regular paper than on label stock.  Since printing tends to vary from printer to printer, consider sacrificing a page of label stock as a template and remove the top left label, a label in the middle, and a label at the bottom right.  You can hold this page up in the light over your test page to verify that the printer alignment is correct.  
 
The report's margins can be adjusted by clicking on the <Page Setup> button at the top left on the toolbar in BrokerForce.  You can also test the difference of answering <Yes> to reduce the height of each label if the labels tend to creep down below the bottom margin of the label after several rows.
 
Some labels offer the option of including the month and year that the label was printed.  It can be very helpful to know if a label needs to be replaced if the prices have changed if the label was printed several months earlier.
 
Choice of bar code font:
  1. If the manufacturer provided you with UPCs and these are in your BrokerForce product data, you have the greatest choice of labels because you can use either the UPCA or 3 of 9 barcode fonts.  The UPCA barcode is the most easily recognized by scanning devices.  UPCA only supports 12 digit UPC (including the check digit) numbers without any letters or other characters.  In addition to being the easiest to scan, if you scan a UPC on a packaged product, the scanner will return the same information as if you scanned a UPC label printed by BrokerForce.
  2. If you are using UPC numbers, be sure to preview the "Products with Duplicate UPCs" report before printing labels.  When a duplicate UPC is scanned, the first instance of that UPC is returned.  So, if there is only one duplicate, there is a 50% chance that the wrong item number, description, and price will be returned.  If there is more than one duplicate, the odds of returning the correct information is not as good.
  3. If the manufacturer did not provide UPC data, you are limited to the 3 of 9 font for representing the vendor's item number as a barcode.
  4. If using 3 of 9, only upper case letters, numbers, and dashes are supported by the 3 of 9 font supplied with BrokerForce.  Barcodes with other characters or spaces will have spaces in the barcode and will not be recognized by the scanner.
  5. BrokerForce 3 of 9 bar code reports prioritize the number chosen to create any barcode.  In order of priority, it is SKU, UPC, and then vendor's item number.  That is, if there is a SKU number present, that will be used to create the barcode instead of a UPC number.  If there is a UPC present, that will be shown instead of the vendor's item number.  If both SKU and UPC are present, the SKU number will be used.

If you only see large numbers when you preview one of the barcode reports, to install and register the UPCA and Free 3 of 9 fonts, see Font Installation FAQ

 
Choice of label: BrokerForce supports 3 primary sizes of labels.  Avery 5167 labels are 5/8ths by 1 3/4 inches in length. This return address label is available at many office supply stores but not all.  The larger, Avery 5160 address label, is commonly available at most office supply stores.

The label stock for the 5/8ths by one inch label must be ordered as a custom label or you can order them in packets of 100 sheets of 112/labels/sheet directly from BrokerForce.  This is the smallest footprint label that is supported by BrokerForce. 

Labels available from the <Reports> drop list on the product form:

  1. Option Labels 39 Avery 5167 - This label uses the 3 of 9 font for the option text.  It is the only label used for product options (color, size, frame, fabric, etc) for manufacturers that use the same item or "style" number but with a different option.  Up to 5 option levels are supported. There is not a UPCA alternative for options.
  2. Product Label 39 Avery 5160Product labels 39 Avery 5160 - This is the standard Avery Address label and is commonly available at office supply stores.  This is a good choice if the item does not have a UPC number and the vendor's item number is longer than 8 characters particularly if there is a combination of letters and numbers.  Vendor name and descriptions are complete.                                                 
  3. Product Label 39 Avery 5167Product labels 39 Avery 5167 - This label uses the Avery "Return Address" label and it is generally available at office supply stores.  There is not as much information on this label and if the manufacturer's item number exceeds 10 characters and includes letters, be sure to test scan any label that the barcode extends from end to end on the label or has spaces between bars of more than 1/8 inch.                                                                                                                                                                    
  4. Product labels 39 Avery 5167 SKU and Product Labels 39 SKU 5/8x1in - Use these labels only as a work-around if you are not able to use any of the other alternatives.  BrokerForce can create a 5 digit SKU (stock keeping unit) number for a manufacturer's products that do not have a UPC or are otherwise too long for a 3 of 9 font to scan reliably.  The numbers created are unique to your data set and only up to 99,999 items are supported.  This makes for a relatively short barcode footprint that is easily scanned.  Be forewarned: If you delete the vendor's items from BrokerForce and then re-add them at a later date, you will not be able to scan labels you printed before.  You will have to retag all of those products with newly assigned numbers!
  5. Product Labels UPCA 5/8x1inProduct labels UPCA 5/8x1in - This is a good choice for bar coding a catalog and is easy to scan.  The picture at right is enlarged.  This label provides an option of showing a 5 letter abbreviation for the manufacturer or the month and year the label was printed (shown).  This label does not support volume level pricing.
  6. Product Labels UPCA Avery 5160Product Labels UPCA Avery 5160 - This larger label supports additional text, longer item numbers, description, minimums and other information.  The barcode on this is intentionally a little larger for scanning from a greater distance. The manufacturer's name is shown at top in addition to the month and year that the label was printed.                                                                                                                                                                         
  7. Product labels UPCA 5167 - Similar to the 3 of 9 version above only using UPCA and is easier to scan.
  8. Product labelsUPCA Avery5167TierProduct Labels UPCA 5167(tier) - Supports using BrokerForce price column 5 as the base price and 4 as the first volume level price so that the minimum quantity is shown for the base price (5).  It also displays the price in column 4 along with the quantity required to be awarded the Qty4 volume level pricing.  This is the smallest tiered pricing label available.
  9. Product Labels UPCA5167LgBar - The 3 of 9 font is expanded in this version to make scanning recognition better.  It can only be used for short item numbers, typically less than 9 characters if letters are included.  It can be used for UPC numbers as well.
  10. Product Labels UPCA 5167 Folded - This UPCA label can be folded onto a string or hang tag so that the label can be scanned from either side.  This works well for small hang tags or jewelry with UPC numbers.
  11. Product Labels (Jewelry)2.2 x .5in - A custom label for a Zebra TLP 3742 label printer.
  12. Product Labels Avery 6570TierProduct Labels Avery 6570 and Product Labels Avery 6570 (Tier Pricing) - Both labels use a UPCA font. These are designed for a standard hang tag that is the same size as this label.  Tier (volume level) pricing is supported for up to 3 tiers of pricing.  Prices must be in descending order by increasing volume and must begin with the base price of column 5 in BrokerForce with the second level being price column 4, and the lowest price that will be displayed on the label in price column 3.  The price each is shown to the right of the base price if applicable.  A 5 letter abbreviation is shown for the vendor at the right of the label above the bar code.
  13. Product Labels Avery 6570 (SKU) - Similar to the above label however, this uses a 3 of 9 bar code for a SKU number in BrokerForce. 

    Product Labels 39 1x2in  and Product labels UPCA 1x2in- Custom cut label available from Labels On Line

     

Choice of Scanner:  BrokerForce™ supports scanning with PocketRep™ mobile software or scanning directly into the program using a corded wedge or wireless scanner.

With PocketRep™, orders are be scanned into a PDA (Personal Digital Assistant) or Smart Phone running Pocket PC 2003, Windows Mobile 5 and Windows Mobile 6.  PocketRep™  orders are synchronized into BrokerForce.  Scanning with a PDA using PocketRep


Scanning on a PC or laptop:

Barcodes can be used for entering line item details with a wedge scanner in BrokerForce.  Wedge scanner options run from a durable USB corded scanner (~ $135) to a Bluetooth wireless scanner (~$450).

Any wedge scanner capable of sending a tilde "~" or pipe "|" prefix and carriage return suffix is supported.  Please consult your scanner documentation for this information.  For most Symbol scanners, please print and scan the barcodes from top to bottom on this document ==> Symbol LS 2208 Setup

Scan Bookend UPC or EAN

Cards and books often use a Bookland UPCA or EAN font.  If you want to be able to scan these.BrokerForce will recognize the 5 digit supplemental code as the item number.  The EAN, or UPC is ignored.  For PocketRep using a Socket In-Hand scanner to recognize a Bookland font, click the scanner icon at the bottom right of the <Today> screen on your PDA.  Click <Symbology> and place a check in the <EAN Bookland> symbology check box  The a Symbol LS 2208, print and scan the following barcode after your LS2208 is already setup.  Consult your product manual for any other type of scanner.

Autodiscriminate UPC/EAN/JAN Supplementals



 

If UPC information has been entered into BrokerForce™ and that number is printed on the product's packaging, that number should be recognized by both the scanner and BrokerForce™ as a valid entry.

To scan order details into BrokerForce™ with a wedge scanner, click on the <Order> tab; select a vendor and customer to complete the order header. Place a dot in the <UPC> option at the left side of the order form just above the order details subform if UPC codes will be used otherwise, BrokerForce™ will search for the item information based on the item number. If you want to add additional items without barcodes, remove the dot from the <UPC> option control and select the items from the related drop lists. The <UPC> option dot can be replaced to continue scanning items.

If you have a scanner that can be configured to use a prefix, make the prefix a tilde "~" (upper left on most keyboards) and set the suffix to a carriage return.  BrokerForce will recognize this prefix whether or not the <UPC> option has been selected and appropriately manage the scan.  When the user has clicked inside the line item detail section of an order, and a scan is initiated, the scan will be entered as an item selection.  Consecutively scanning the same item will increment the quantity of that item by the minimum quantity.  If an item is scanned a second time that is not consecutive, the user will be warned that the item has already been entered into that order.

Double-click on the record handle (1/4" gray square at left end of item row) to see the <Item Sales Pop-up> dialog.  The <Item Sales Pop-up> dialog displays the item description, and quantity of the current item in 1" high bold text that can be seen from up to 10 feet. This enables you to set your laptop on a table or cart and scan without balancing the laptop in your other hand and is ideal for using a wireless scanner.  The pop up also displays previous sales of the item to the current customer, vendor inventory of the item.  So, you can use a wireless scanner with your laptop.  Click back into the details section of your order and, as you scan items, this dialog is updated for that item.

Scanner recommendations 11/21/10ScanFob 2002

SerialIIO.com provides the  ScanFob 2002 wireless Bluetooth scanner.  This one works well and is easy to pair up with a bluetooth device, netbook, or laptop.  ~ $300.  You can get a 10% discount with this coupon BRFORCE~10-5sdkHyw1 or 15% when buying 5 or more with this coupon BRFORCE~15-7JKmwyIOC2. ScanFob 2002 Setup  .

The Symbol LS 2208 is a reliable, compact, wedge laser scanner.  Be certain to confirm that the scanner you buy includes the USB cord.  A 6 foot cord is adequate for most uses.  A longer cord may be used however, this increases the risk of tripping or tangling.  Where to buy ==> Symbol LS 2008

Another wireless (Bluetooth) scanner for a laptop is the Socket Cordless Hand Scanner mfg part# CX2800-489

The scanner for either an iPAQ or Dell Axim PDA is the Socket In-hand Laser scanner manufacturer part# IS5025-609

The best price that we typically find on the Internet for the last 3 scnners is from www.pagecomputers.com. These scanners may also be obtained on auction sites such as eBay.  Since technology changes quickly, please check with us before you make a purchase.

We do not recommend CCD or CMOS scanners.  They are not as effective as laser scanners and the SD slot may be required for expanded memory.

Device recommendations 10/21/10

Netbooks and tablets offer a lot of lutility, are light, and getting smaller every day.  Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) are smaller but do have some quirks.  HP iPAQ 210, 211 ~ $400.  iPaq 210 The less expensive 110 does not have a CF expansion slot so, it can not be used to scan and have expanded memory for PocketRep 6.  One can use a ScanFob 2002 wireless scanner if the device supports bluetooth.

Dell Axim X50v and X51v No longer manufactured, probably available on eBay or otherwise remanufactured.  Not recommended any longer.

Extended battery recommended for all to last through a full day.

Printer Recommendations:

We really like to be able to have printing backup versus total reliance on a wireless network.  

If you're using a PDA, consider using a wireless printer that allows "Ad-Hoc" (device to device) connections.  This is easy to setup and works pretty reliably for trade shows.  Netbooks, tablets, and laptops can be connected with a USB cable.  Any printer used for a PDA must support PCL 3.  Check with us before you buy a printer.  Brother printers typically don't work with the PDAs.

A PocketRep PDA can also be cradled to a laptop or desktop and print directly to a printer that is connected to the computer through the network or a USB cable.  If the PC is connected to the printer by the USB cable, the PC must be alble to print to that printer and the printer must be shared.  Please ask your network adiminstrator about "Sharing" a printer.  The PDA must also be configured to use the shared or or network IP printer.

Before you start your show:

  1. If you need data for your show so that someone can enter an "Out of Territory" order, put in a  Data Request  at least 3 business days in advance of your show.
  2. Run the "Products with duplicate UPCs" and "Products with Bad UPCs" reports on the <Product> tab in BrokerForce.  Take remedial action or you will have problems scanning.
  3. Run all theWindows updates and current Anti-Virus updates on every computer.  This can really bog you down during the show if they are not current.
  4. Run the latest BrokerForce program update

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