Unique codes can also verify the authenticity of products and help with monitoring diversion. For example, if a product has been shipped across borders illegally, scanning the code could enable a retailer to identify that product has not arrived via the correct channels. Also, if a code is used more than once, the system will be able to alert the relevant parties and highlight counterfeiting. Incorporating traceability data will help identify where a product was diverted, enabling further investigation. Likewise, a simple scan enables a consumer to check the authenticity of a product. This is a particularly attractive feature with products such as infant formula, where parents are rightly cautious.
Quality ControlIoT can also help minimize the impact of a product recall, which can damage brand reputation and cost a considerable amount of money to implement and manage. Using beverage cans as an example, unique codes can help manufacturers pinpoint exactly which units are affected and initiate a recall by alerting the purchasing consumer directly via the code. Consumers can be advised to return the product and be compensated with a replacement, voucher or gift. This helps keep the consumer happy, strengthens brand loyalty and ultimately fosters a better brand image.
If the unique codes have not yet been scanned by consumers, there may also be an opportunity to locate the products before they are sold, negating the need to go public with a recall at all. This, of course, is the ideal situation, as costs can be avoided or reduced, and brand reputation protected.
Augmented Reality (AR)Augmented reality is seeing increased use across multiple industries, including packaging. It is now possible to expand customer experiences by leveraging mobile devices to layer a virtual product or experiential content on top of the real world, so that they appear to exist in the same space as the consumer.
Interactive applications, downloaded onto a smartphone or tablet, for example, can use the graphics applied to a tin at the decoration phase of manufacturing as an interface, enabling the user to see through the packaging to the contents inside. The apps can also access a wide range of content created for promotional campaigns. Implementing the technology, which provides brands with valuable purchasing data when used as part of creative promotional campaigns, does not require any changes to the filling process, with costs being kept to a minimum.
An IoT Vision for the FutureIt would natural to believe that at some point in the near future, all packaging will be given a unique ID as part of the manufacturing process. This would enable packaging to interact with smart devices in the supply chain, for consumer use and during recycling. Unique IDs enable distinctive interactions and offer a wide range of benefits. Implications for the packaging industry are also wide ranging, as each party in the chain will see benefits from using the technology. These forward-thinking initiatives will become part of our daily lives – just as packaging already is – and Crown intends to be at the forefront of the industries and markets it serves.