What Is Asset Tagging?

Your business likely owns hundreds of pieces of expensive equipment like machinery, office equipment, computers, power tools, and more. This equipment is essential to your operations, but it’s easy to lose track of valuable items if you don’t have a system for organizing them.

Asset tagging is a simple way to identify your equipment and ensure you know where it is at all times. When used alongside asset tracking software, asset tags can prevent costly losses and increase productivity.

So, what is asset tagging? We’ll explain everything you need to know and explain how to tag your business’s assets.

What Is Asset Tagging?

Asset tagging is the process of attaching labels, or tags, to your business’s physical assets. Tags can label the item as belonging to your business and include helpful information about the asset, such as what it is, when it was purchased, and when it was last maintained.

Many businesses put serial numbers, barcodes, or QR codes on asset tags to create a unique identity for each asset. You can store data about the asset in a database and then look up information by entering the serial number or scanning the code.

Physical assets you may want to tag include any expensive equipment your business owns, such as:

  • Machinery
  • Vehicles
  • Computers
  • Office equipment
  • Power tools
  • Safety equipment

Why Is Asset Tagging Important?

Asset tagging is a component of asset tracking, which offers a systematic way to keep track of the physical assets your business owns. Without asset tracking, it’s difficult to know what assets your business has or where they are. If you lost a computer, for example, how would you even know it was missing if there was no record of it existing in the first place?

You can create a unique identity for every asset your business owns using asset tracking software. However, for that digital entry to be connected to a real-world asset, you need to physically label the asset in some way. That’s where asset tags come in—they serve as the crucial link between an abstract database entry and a tangible item.

What Are the Main Advantages of Asset Tagging?

Asset tagging offers several important benefits for your business.

Reduces Equipment Loss

The most important advantage of asset tagging is that it reduces equipment loss. You can put information about where an asset is supposed to be stored directly on its tag. That reminds employees to put it back where it belongs and ensures that if something is lost and then found, it can be returned promptly.

In addition, asset tags identify equipment as belonging to your business. If your employees take equipment into the field—such as to a construction site—tags can prevent your assets from being mixed up with other businesses’ belongings.

You can even attach GPS-enabled tags to high-value assets. If an asset with a GPS tag is ever missing, you can simply look up its current location.

Increases Employees’ Productivity

Asset tags can also increase productivity by enabling employees to quickly update an asset’s status in your asset tracking system. For example, an employee can scan an asset’s barcode to mark it as checked out so other employees won’t waste time looking for equipment that’s currently in use.

Another way that asset tags increase productivity is by reducing the time employees spend looking for equipment. For example, if you have a GPS tag on an item, employees can simply check its location instead of spending time searching. Tags can also contain information about where items are supposed to be stored, reducing the likelihood that an employee misplaces them.

Makes Maintenance Easier

Another benefit of asset tags is that they can help you keep up with maintenance for your equipment. For example, you can print the next date that maintenance is due on an item’s tag. You can also store maintenance information in your asset database, such that scanning an asset’s tag brings up details about when an item was last maintained.

How Does Asset Tagging Work?

Below we outline the four steps to follow in a typical asset tagging procedure.

1. Assign a Serial Number

Every asset you tag should have a unique serial number. You can assign serial numbers sequentially based on when you tag a number or create a more complex system of categories. For example, serial numbers starting with “3” could be used for vehicles.

2. Choose a Tag

You can attach many types of tags to an item. Asset tag examples include stickers, laminated labels, fabric tags, GPS devices, or RFID tags. We’ll discuss the benefits of different types of tags in more detail below.

3. Add Information

Tags should always include an item’s assigned serial number. In addition, tags can include information about an item such as a description or maintenance information. It’s a good idea to add a barcode or QR code to enable employees to quickly access more details about the item from your asset tracking software.

4. Attach the Tag

Attach the tag to your item so that it’s secure. You could use adhesive, keychain rings, staples, or other hardware. Remember that tags may need to be replaced over time if they come loose or fade.

Types of Asset Tags

You can choose from a range of asset tag types. Some tags are basic and simply display information, while others have embedded technology to help you track your assets. Let’s take a look at some of the different options and their benefits.

Basic Asset Tags

Basic asset tags are made from materials like stickers, laminated paper, fabric scraps, or metal. They simply display information like an item’s serial number or barcode.

Basic asset tags are extremely inexpensive and easy to attach. You can print off stickers in seconds and then simply press them onto your assets.

The main thing to consider when using basic asset tags is durability. Stickers work great if they won’t get wet. However, if a tag will be exposed to the elements, consider using a laminated paper tag or a metal tag with the item’s serial number imprinted on it. Fabric tags are great for office equipment like chairs since they blend in.


Radio frequency ID (RFID) tracking tags have embedded chips in them that constantly emit radio waves. You’ll need an RFID scanner to read these tags.

The benefit of using them is that a scanner can read multiple tags at once. You can also scan a tag from a few feet away, instead of directly scanning the tag, like with a barcode. So, they’re great for performing a quick inventory check on your assets.

The drawback to RFID tagging is that RFID chips and scanners are moderately expensive.

GPS Tags

GPS tags have built-in GPS receivers and constantly transmit their location. If you need to know where an item is, you can check its location in real time.

GPS tags are ideal for large, expensive items such as movable machinery and vehicles. You can use them to tag a wider variety of assets, but beware that GPS tags are expensive. Using them for smaller items can significantly increase your asset tracking costs.

Tamper-proof Tags

Tamper-proof tags are designed to discourage theft. They’re moderately expensive but can be worth it if you have expensive equipment that’s stored outside or in an unsecured facility.

If a thief tries to remove a tamper-proof tag, the tag will leave behind evidence. For example, tamper-proof stickers usually leave behind a graphic that says “Void.” This makes it much more difficult for a thief to sell stolen items without being caught.

Next Steps

Tagging your assets is an important part of asset tracking, which involves knowing what physical assets your business owns. Asset tags enable you to physically assign an individual ID to every item. They’re crucial for reducing costly equipment losses and can help boost productivity.

The best way to get started with asset tagging is to invest in asset tracking software. This software can help you build a database of your assets and generate serial numbers and barcodes for each item. You can then create physical tags with these unique identifiers and attach them to your assets.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the purpose of asset tagging?
The purpose of asset tagging is to keep track of all the physical assets your business owns. Asset tags display an item’s unique serial number, which connects the physical asset with a digital entry in your database of assets. Asset tags can prevent costly equipment losses and boost your business’s productivity.
What is an asset tag number?
An asset tag number is a unique serial number that you assign to each physical asset your business owns. You can generate these serial numbers manually or using asset tracking software. You should display the serial number on an asset tag, which you’ll attach securely to the item.
What should I put on an asset tag?
The most important thing to include on an asset tag is the serial number of the asset you’re tagging. You can add a barcode or QR code that links to more information about that asset. It’s also a good idea to include your business’s name on the asset tag.
Written by:
Michael is a prolific business and B2B tech writer whose articles have been published on many well-known sites, including TechRadar Pro, Business Insider and Tom's Guide. Over the past six years, he has kept readers up-to-date with the latest business technology, corporate finance matters and emerging business trends. A successful small business owner and entrepreneur, Michael has his finger firmly on the pulse of B2B tech, finance and business.
Reviewed by:
Maïté Bouhali
Maite began her career with Expert Market nearly four years ago as a writer. She quickly developed a passion for the challenges faced by small businesses and now endeavours to help them make informed decisions for their future. In her current position as Business Software Editor, Maite works closely with writers to ensure that each article is informative, well-researched, engaging, and actionable for readers. With extensive knowledge of CRM, vehicle tracking devices, and fuel cards, she is meticulous in her review of each article and provides detailed feedback before publication. Whether you're seeking to stay informed on the latest trends in business software or need guidance in selecting the most appropriate software for your organisation's needs, Maite is here to help. With her sharp eye for detail and commitment to quality, she is dedicated to supporting businesses in achieving their goals.