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Smart Packaging Transform Supply Chains Product Integrity And Customer Experience

Nov 5

Smart Packaging has the potential to transform supply chains, product integrity and customer experience. Senior executives in operations, marketing, finance, IT and a range of other functions in consumer packaged goods, industrial goods and retail would be wise to pay attention.

Using smart packaging tools and technologies, manufacturers can track product materials from their source to the point of consumption. This allows businesses to communicate authenticity to consumers, as well as relay environmental and social responsibility. The technology can also help businesses detect below-standard, counterfeit and low-quality products that can devalue the brand name and reputation of a company.

The Smart Packaging Solutions tools available are wide-ranging and can include simple QR codes that link to informational videos and tutorials, or more advanced sensors that track temperature, shock and other specifications. Some smart packaging solutions can even interact with the end consumer, providing a direct line to customer support that’s easy for them to use and understand, in a time-friendly manner.

Many of the smart packaging solutions currently on the market rely on inexpensive package-level technologies like bar codes and QR codes, or on passive RFID tags. However, more intelligent solutions that geo-locate, track temperature and shock, or interact with consumers require sensor technologies that are by and large too expensive to be used on the primary (single unit) package. This is a major barrier to adoption, and almost 30 percent of survey respondents cited business case economics as their top concern.

Another challenge for smart packaging is that the technology often generates data on both the end-consumer and supply chain, which raises privacy concerns. This is a big issue that must be addressed, and it’s not clear how it will be resolved. Some experts believe that, in the future, blockchain systems will be able to make it difficult for hackers to access or alter information collected by smart packaging systems.

Another way to address privacy concerns is to create smart packaging that collects data only on the end-consumer, a strategy being pursued by a number of companies. In the meantime, solution providers that collect data from a variety of sources can reduce the risk of privacy violations by limiting the amount of information they collect from each source and by providing consumers with control mechanisms. They can also leverage solutions that protect the data with cryptography and a series of safeguards.