It all started in supermarket checkout lanes in the 1970s. Back then, those series of black lines called barcodes began to appear on our cans of soup and packages of crackers to help speed the checkout process at grocery stores.

Now, barcodes are used by all sorts of retailers and other types of businesses to keep track of inventory, packages, equipment... you name it. And in this age of mobile devices, wi-fi and countless other sophisticated information-sharing technologies, instant access to information has gone from a luxury to a requirement of doing business.

When it comes to streamlining the processing of your business mail, utilizing barcode technology can provide instant access to information you need about those mailpieces. From the pharmaceutical to the auto parts industries, businesses can benefit from utilizing barcode technology on their mail.

Here's how it works: Barcodes are an assembly of lines, or bars, that are arranged in unique ways to simplify the sorting of flats and parcels as well as bolster the tracking of mailpieces. Once a barcode is applied, it provides each mailpiece with its own "footprint"❠as it goes through processing, instantly providing you with valuable information each time the barcode is scanned, including a description of the mailpiece, where it came from and where it is going. What results is a dramatically more efficient and accurate mail-sorting process.

The traditional multi-step approach of manually keying in information from mailpieces to facilitate the sorting process can be a relatively labor-intensive and error-prone process compared with using barcodes to perform the same function with one simple, easy scan of the mailpiece. Incorporating barcodes onto business mailpieces and adding technologies to manage the processing of barcoded mail can save you and your customers time and money.

Also, consider working with a mail services provider that can work with your business to develop barcodes that match to your own sorting system. Even better, you can work with a mail services provider to develop barcodes that can be applied to mailpieces in-house before they are sent out for sorting and delivery. This cooperative step enables mail to speed through the sorting process, allowing it to reach the final recipient more efficiently and, in many cases, more quickly.

And the benefits of barcode technology extend beyond sorting at mail processing facilities. Utilizing a separate, distinct barcode can provide timely notification once a mailpiece is delivered from a mail processor to the U.S. Postal Service for final delivery, an especially valuable benefit for companies tracking the in-transit status of time-sensitive mailings to their customers.

Success in business hinges on sharing information efficiently and accurately, and the importance of doing so will only continue to grow as technology continues to advance. Utilizing barcode technology will help your business stay ahead of the technological curve and provide your customers with the high level of service they demand.

Chet King, Postal Affairs Manager for UPS Mail Innovations, has more than 25 years of experience in the postal industry. Visit for more information about UPS Mail Innovations and its services.