Today, consumers are hungrier than ever before for the best deals and regularly shop around using different channels to do this. As a result, they’re demanding more contextual and targeted information about the products they want to buy before they make a purchase. At the same time, retailers are striving to achieve an omni-channel experience, in a bid to transform customer intimacy and improve brand engagement. As we head to MWC 2017this week, could smart packaging be one way to address this?
What is smart packaging?
Smart packaging enables users to interact with a physical product on a digital level, accessing additional information about it, depending on the context in which they’re in. By scanning the barcode or QR code on a packet of biscuits with their smartphone camera for example, the user could determine key ingredients, as well as understand the journey that the biscuits have been on – from production in a factory to their hands in the store. NFC tags are also starting to be added to electronic labels on packaging to provide this type of detail direct to users’ smartphone screens.
Providing this level of contextual information could be particularly important for individuals with allergies, who could tap on the smart packaging to learn what specific ingredients a product contains. In pharmacies, this could be used to provide patients with pricing information about a certain medicine, how to take the medication and the recommended dosage – all at the click of a button on their smartphone.
Taking this one step further, imagine you are holding a packet of aspirin. You hold your smartphone over the label, and see information on your screen about how to take the medicine that has been tailored to your age, demographic and general health. Rather than having to read through the paper instructions from cover to cover, being able to access this information digitally ensures you only have to read the information that is pertinent to you, saving you time.
Imagine you ask the pharmacist in the store whether you can take aspirin in combination with medicine X or Y. They could tap their smartphone on the packaging to access additional consultative content and make their recommendation. For the pharmacist’s marketing and sales team, they can access anonymised data from the smart labels to determine how many packets of aspirin have been sold on any one day, as well as how many people have tapped on the digital service. This ensures they can tailor future promotional targeting accordingly, based on specific customer preferences and behaviours.
How smart packaging could help fight against counterfeiting
While smart packaging offers new, exciting ways for brands to engage with their customers, it’s also helping manufacturers address product counterfeiting. Imports of counterfeit and pirated goods are worth nearly a trillion dollars a year; and while anti-counterfeiting methods such as invisible ink, holograms and RFID tags are very common, they can be easily copied and are often expensive. Digital labels can be used to determine whether a product is genuine, because they’re able to store specific information about that product, such as its serial numbers, expiration date and/or geographic codes. Xerox is one company paving the way here, with its Printed Memory technology.
The technology to create digital labels is already available today, and brands must now be inspired to unlock these capabilities and engage with their customers on a more intimate level.
We’ll be demonstrating Worldline’s core capabilities in smart packaging at MWC 2017 this week, in Hall 5, Stand 5I31 – https://www.mobileworldcongress.com/exhibitor/worldline/
For more information, see our vision for how disruptive technologies are amplifying the Digital Shockwaves in Business in Journey 2020.