QR codes vs barcodes: Which should you use for equipment?

Using QR codes for Inventory Tracking (vs. Barcodes)


What are the advantages of using QR codes vs barcodes?

If you work with equipment moving in and out of your warehouse, using a QR code or barcode scanner can help you keep better track of your inventory.

This allows you to reduce mistakes and keep a history for every item.

Barcodes and QR codes can both carry similar information. But while bar codes store information only horizontally with parallel lines (1D), QR codes can store it both vertically and horizontally (2D).

This is the reason why QR codes are better for most types of equipment, especially when it comes to equipment for events.

qr vs barcode components

Beyond giving you the short answer, this article will dive into the following topics:

1.  Advantages of QR codes over barcodes
2.  Are QR codes always a better choice?
3.  Printing or ordering high-quality QR code labels
4.  Tracking and scanning equipment with your mobile device
5.  Frequently asked questions about QR and barcodes

So, without further ado, here are more reasons why you should switch to using a QR code system for inventory management:

Advantages of QR codes over barcodes

  • QR codes can hold more information - While a barcode can represent up to 25 characters, a  QR code can go up to 2500. This means you can include much more information, like the URL of a product’s page on your webshop.
  • QR codes can be smaller - a QR code can be up to 10 times smaller than a bar code and still readable. So you can print smaller labels that carry more information.
  • QR codes are easier to read - to read a barcode you have to aim the scanner in line with the code, while a QR code can be read from any angle. When you have many items to scan, you won’t have to perfectly aim the scanner every time.
  • QR codes work even when damaged - QR codes have a high error correction margin. So even if around 30% of the code is unreadable (erased, damaged, dirty) the code still works.
types of qr and barcodes

Are QR codes always a better choice?

Using a QR code for inventory tracking is clearly better than using barcodes, for multiple reasons. However, there is one kind of item for which barcodes are the best solution: cables.

It’s almost impossible to scan a QR code if the label is on a cable (or on any round and thin product). If you intend to track cables one by one, it’s better to use barcodes.

We also wrote an article on how to set up your QR codes & barcodes that you might be interested in.


Printing or ordering high-quality QR code labels

Convinced to use QR codes for inventory management? When you start labeling your equipment, you can either buy pre-printed labels or print them yourself. Both of these options have their pros and cons.

In our insider's guide to labeling your equipment, you can discover which option works best for your goals.

With years of experience in the live event industry, we know how useful QR codes can be for inventory tracking. This is why with Rentman you can generate and print your own QR codes.

You can also order pre-printed QR codes from us: printed on a special laminated paper, these stickers can resist sun, water, dirt, beer, and bruises. When using QR code stickers for inventory from us, rest assured they can withstand the elements and handling.

Tracking and scanning equipment with your mobile device

With Rentman, you can use your smartphone’s camera to scan and use QR codes for inventory tracking. 

This allows you to book equipment in & out of your warehouse without being tied to a computer, or report a damaged item directly on location.


  • What does QR mean in QR code?
    QR stands for "Quick Response," indicating the code's ability to quickly and efficiently store and retrieve information when scanned.
  • Can a QR code fail?
    Yes, QR codes can fail if they are damaged, poorly printed, or if there is an issue with the scanning device.
  • Are QR codes secure?
    QR codes themselves are not inherently secure. They can link to websites or data that may or may not be secure. So, when you are a user, be careful when scanning QR codes from unknown sources.
  • What are the flaws of QR codes?
    QR codes can be susceptible to damage, may not work in low-light conditions, and can potentially lead to malicious websites or data if not properly verified.
  • Does it matter what color a QR code is?
    Yes, it matters to some extent. Dark QR codes on a light background generally work best for scanning. High-contrast color combinations are recommended.
  • Can two QR codes be the same?
    Yes, two QR codes can be the same if they contain identical data. QR codes are a way to encode information, so duplicates are possible.
  • Can a barcode reader read a QR code?
    No, a standard barcode reader cannot read a QR code. These scanners are designed for 1D barcodes, while QR codes are 2D.
  • How small can a QR code be?
    This depends on your needs and the amount of data you need to store. Smaller QR codes may have limited data capacity and could be harder to scan accurately. The minimum size for a QR Code is 2 x 2 cm.
  • Can I use qr codes for inventory?
    Yes, QR codes are commonly used for inventory management. They can store product information, serial numbers, and more for efficient tracking and management.

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