What is the difference between UPC Labels and QR Codes?

Answered July 24 2019

The main differences between QR codes and UPC labels are the amount of information they can hold, how they appear to the user, and the type of equipment required to read them. Most items are tracked today by UPC labels, which are more commonly known as barcodes. However, QR codes are a more advanced form of barcodes and becoming more commonly used.

Both UPC labels and QR codes facilitate easy check-in and scan-out procedures for parts from your inventory by using the camera on your phone.

But what are the differences between them and some of the advantages of using one system over the other? Let’s take a closer look.

UPC Label Basics

UPC labels have been around for a long time in inventory management systems. These one-dimensional labels contain a series of numbers that conveys information about the item in question. They are easily recognizable, widely used, and generally accepted in any sort of system that uses modern methods of tracking items.

Simply put, UPC labels and all their variations get the job done quickly and inexpensively. They are the workhorses of many inventory management systems today.

QR Code Basics

QR codes take the idea behind UPC labels and add more storage, information, and technology to the small black and white code. While the “QR Code” name is technically a trademark, the name has become widespread and synonymous with two-dimensional codes. They may also be called matrix codes.

Regardless of their name, these codes can hold not only much more information, but also more complex information such as names, email addresses, dates, and location data. QR codes bridge the gap between the physical asset and the digital data repository. And creating them is easy.

Major Differences

The biggest difference between QR codes and UPC labels is in the amount of information that can be stored in them. Since QR codes can store information in two dimensions (vertically and horizontally) as opposed to one (horizontally), they will always be able to store more information than UPC codes. Thanks to their versatility in the type of information they can store, QR codes have a variety of applications, and they are actually considered more secure than UPC labels.

QR codes are not as widespread as UPC labels, and the two labels don’t interface well together. Different scanners and systems are needed for QR codes, which requires a greater investment in equipment and training.