QR Codes Vs. Barcodes: Which Is Better For Printed Materials?

Attention business owners! Are you tired of human error in inventory management? Are you looking for a more efficient way to keep track of your products? Look no further than technological systems, specifically barcodes and QR codes. Both are becoming increasingly popular in the manufacturing industry for their ability to streamline inventory control. Barcodes have been around for decades, with their black lines and alphanumeric characters aiding in efficient product tracking. However, with the rise of mobile devices, QR codes and their white squares are proving to be a worthy competitor. In this article, we will explore the differences between these two code systems and determine which one is the perfect tool for your sales funnel.

Advantages of QR Codes over Barcodes for Printed Materials

QR codes have become increasingly popular over the years due to the advantages they have over traditional barcodes when it comes to printed materials. One key advantage is QR codes’ ability to hold a large amount of data, up to 7,089 numeric characters. This data capacity can make them a perfect tool to display product details, promotions or even direct customers to a sales funnel. This is in stark contrast to one-dimensional barcodes, which can typically hold up to 20 alphanumeric characters.

Another advantage is that QR codes have been designed with high error tolerance and a well-structured pattern. The code has three levels of error-detection that are built-in by design, which significantly reduces the risk of human error, making them a very reliable method of storing information. This comes in handy in industries where accuracy is of the utmost importance, such as in the medical and retail industries.

QR codes provide a means to connect the digital and physical domains. As mobile devices are widely used, QR codes have become nearly universal, offering consumers easy access to digital content associated with the physical item. With the widespread use of mobile devices, QR codes have become almost ubiquitous, and consumers can easily scan them to access digital content related to the physical product. This can provide solutions to mundane problems such as providing additional product information or improving communication channels for customer service.

Unlike barcodes, QR codes are not restricted to a specific size range. The minimum size is 21-by-21 cells, and the maximum size is 105-by-105 cells. They can further increase in size with an increment of 4-by-4 cells. This feature gives businesses the flexibility to customize the size of the QR code for their particular printed materials, ensuring that customers can scan them easily and quickly.

In terms of industry uses, QR codes are not limited to product packaging or business cards. They are also increasingly used in inventory management, control, and tracking. By scanning QR codes, businesses can instantly access the product’s relevant information, such as its batch number, expiry date, or shipping information.

Advantages of Barcodes

Barcodes have been a simple yet remarkable tool for businesses across various industries for many years. They have become an essential part of the retail industry, particularly for inventory management, as they allow businesses to quickly and accurately track their stock. The barcode scanner can easily read the codes, which significantly reduces the time required for manual entry of information.

Apart from the retail industry, barcodes are widely used in the manufacturing industry as well. Manufacturers use barcodes to help sort products with their corresponding accessories or production batch quickly. By doing so, they can increase efficiency during the production process, hence saving time and reducing errors. For example, when producing electronic devices, manufacturers use barcodes to track each component’s source and its traceability throughout the production process.

The uses of barcodes are not limited to these industries alone. They have become a ubiquitous tool for asset tracking and management in various industries: from healthcare to education, and even government and military organizations. Barcodes are also used in libraries to manage books and research materials, and in hospital settings to track medical equipment and patient records.

Barcodes are a straightforward technology that can be cost-effective and can provide a quantifiable increase in efficiency for the business. Compared to other high-tech methods, such as RFID, barcodes have been a tried and true method of asset tracking and inventory management for many years.

Disadvantages of QR Codes

QR codes have gained popularity in recent years due to their ability to store vast amounts of data and their compatibility with mobile technologies. However, when it comes to deciding whether QR codes or traditional barcodes are better for printed materials, it’s essential to consider the potential disadvantages of QR codes.

One of the main drawbacks of QR codes is their high scanning technology requirements, which can be a concern for manufacturers and businesses. Compared to traditional barcodes, QR codes require more complex scanning technology, making it expensive and challenging to implement at times. Additionally, while QR codes can store more extensive data than traditional barcodes, they have lower error tolerance levels. This means that any damage, such as a scratch or a smudge on the code, can render it unreadable, causing significant issues in the scanning process.

Another issue with QR codes is that they rely heavily on mobile devices to read, which may not always be available or accessible in certain situations. Human error is another factor that manufacturers and businesses have to consider when using QR codes. Mistakes in scanning, such as failing to hold the camera steady or problems with the lighting, can affect the accuracy of data captured from the QR code.

There are also several risks associated with using QR codes. One of the most significant risks is the possibility of using outdated codes. Since the adoption rates for QR codes among consumers are relatively low, businesses risk creating, printing, and distributing codes that end up going unused. Additionally, the security concerns related to privacy breaches and data theft are also possible risks.

Another disadvantage of QR codes is the minimum size requirement, which can limit their effectiveness in printed materials. To be scannable, QR codes need to be at least 2cm x 2cm in size. If used on small labels or business cards, they may become illegible, and their ability to transfer the intended information may be impacted.

Disadvantages of Barcodes

While barcodes offer a simple and efficient way to store and track data, they do have several disadvantages when it comes to printed materials. One of the most significant limitations of traditional barcodes is that they are one-dimensional, which means they can only store data in the form of parallel lines of varying thickness.

This limited storage capacity can be a concern for businesses that need to incorporate a vast amount of data into their printed materials, such as product packaging or inventory management systems. Additionally, barcode scanners can be prone to human error, which can lead to issues with data accuracy and consistency.

Another significant limitation of barcodes is their level of error correction. If a barcode is damaged or unreadable in any way, the information it contains may be lost. This can result in errors in inventory management and other critical business processes.

In addition to these drawbacks, barcodes must also be printed at a minimum size to ensure they are scannable. This can limit their effectiveness in printed materials, especially if used on small labels or business cards.

Overall, while barcodes offer a simple and effective way to store and track data, their one-dimensional format, limited data storage, and level of error correction can pose issues for businesses in certain situations.


In conclusion, both QR codes and barcodes have their own set of advantages and disadvantages when it comes to printed materials. QR codes have a higher data capacity and can encode various types of information, such as URLs and product details, making them suitable for product packaging. On the other hand, one-dimensional barcodes are simpler and easier to scan, making them a better option for inventory management. In terms of error correction, QR codes are more robust and can still be readable even if a portion of the code is damaged. However, QR codes require a larger scanning area and may not be suitable for small labels or business cards. Ultimately, the choice of technology depends on the specific needs and use cases of the business or industry. Whether using QR codes or traditional barcodes, it is crucial to consider factors such as data capacity, ease of scanning, and error correction to ensure optimal results for printed materials.