The year 2018 saw North America reeling under multiple E.coli outbreaks, with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention issuing a blanket warning against consuming the suspected source – romaine lettuce. The agency along with the Food and Drug Administration struggled to pinpoint the source for the outbreak. Similar outbreaks of food borne illnesses like Vibrio parahaemolyticus and Salmonella have also littered the past year affecting hundreds of people. Food borne illnesses cause millions of dollars worth in losses from recalls, loss in sales and damage to brand reputation. Money needs to also be spent on notifying retailers, regulatory bodies and storing or disposing of affected products and government fines.
So, what steps are the government agencies and enterprises taking to reduce the impact of such outbreaks in the future? The CDC and FDA are encouraging labels on susceptible fresh produce which clearly state the origin of the product as well as when it was harvested so that consumers can take a more informed decision while purchasing. In fact, product labels can go a long way in boosting food safety and accurately locating the ground zero for outbreaks. With digitization gaining momentum everywhere, electronic packaging and labeling solutions are the key to delivering consistent and reliable data of each product’s journey from farm to shelves.
Simplifying Complex Food Systems with Reliable Data
Food systems are highly complex. A restaurant may have bought tomatoes from multiple distributors, who themselves may have repackaged their products after sourcing them from a variety of farms. We can see how it becomes a challenge to trace the origins of each item back to its source. It is thus important to link all the diverse participants within a supply chain. Reliable and consistent data is the indispensable factor that decides the integrity of food quality and helps quickly locate the ground zero during recall situations.
The challenge presents itself in the collection, management and analysis of such a large amount of data without suffering any damage to its quality. Much of this data is maintained by distributors in their respective PIMs, but they are neither in congruence with each other nor exposed to the end consumer. But technology has advanced in leaps and bounds making it possible to transform everyday items, even fresh produce into active and intelligent objects. Bringing electronic labeling solutions and cloud computing into the fold makes it simpler to record each and every event occurring to a product. Digital tags (RFID, NFC, QR codes, data matrix codes, barcodes) on packaging and labels can be used as the medium to link fresh produce to the internet, essentially giving them a unique identity or digital twin that is capable of collecting and relaying information about itself (origins, current location, previous stops in the supply chain etc.). Thus, by converting fresh produce and all food products into connected smart products and bringing all partners within the supply chain into a shared system to maintain integrity, the end result on the shelf will be capable of accurately describing its journey to a potential buyer.
Minimizing Impact of Contaminated Food with Traceability
With certain fresh produce, food borne illnesses are unavoidable. The least we can do is to look for innovative solutions in order to contain their spread and minimize their impact. The detective work that goes into identifying the source farms for the outbreak of food borne illness is exhaustive and time consuming. By the time government officials figure out the origin, the contaminated produce has already covered a lot of ground and affected hundreds of people. Entire supplies of the suspected produce gets halted resulting in severe losses and prices of similar produce shooting up. Brands associated with the produce take a hit to their reputation.
But fresh produce powered by electronic labels can show exactly which farm or distributor it has traveled from via it’s digital twin on the web. With a far more uncluttered food supply chain to sieve through, the investigative tasks for regulators becomes much more simpler. Product recalls become more straightforward by targeting only the suspected farms, instead of banning the supply of the entire range of the produce. Traceability is thus the key to tackling and understanding the causes for such frequent outbreaks.
But better management of foodborne illnesses is just one of the advantages of going digital.
Increased Visibility means fewer mishaps down the Supply Chain
Retailers, distributors, manufacturers and farmers can all benefit hugely from smart packaging and electronic labels. The digital transformation of very complex supply chains afford more transparency into all events that are a part of it and make available data of higher quality to work with. From producers to distributors, packaging companies and retailers, each participant can know the exact actions of a particular item within the supply chain. When you have a complete and accurate record of each product’s journey at both SKU and batch levels from all active participants, processes that focus on narrowing down sources for inadequacies or anomalies in events of a product recall situation become faster and simpler – more powerful.
Enterprises can keep track of harvest dates and accordingly plan logistics to ship items to locations depending on their freshness. A digital record via the digital twin of each item on the web enables far better stock keeping. These digital twins ensure that store employees are alerted to produce that are nearing their expiry dates or use-by dates . With a clearer view of items in their inventory that might soon be going bad, companies can plan for and take definite stems in offloading these items through multiple channels; for example sell them at cheaper rates or donate them to food banks.
Product Data is equally valuable to Consumers and Enterprises
It is not just enterprises who benefit from traceability and the expanded product information afforded by electronic labels. Consumers today are looking for more than an ingredient list on product labels. They want to know use-by and expiry dates, ingredients, allergen information, instructions for storage and preparation, advisory and warning statements, country of origin and much more. Savvy consumers are conscious of how their lifestyle choices and purchase decisions impact the world. Not only are they more aware of environmental and social issues, they want each aspect of their lives to contribute to the betterment of the world. This involves their purchase decisions being more responsible, sustainable and ethical. Brands would be unwise to ignore this shift in mindset and would do well to deliver more visibility into their products to build richer relations with their customers.
But there is only so much that the physical surface of a product can manage to cram into its limited confines! But the digital space is not bound by such confines. It can contain an endless amount of data, can capture and store changes in real time, distribute relevant data into multiple channels as deemed necessary and enable a user friendly interface to display the data, reducing unnecessary confusion caused by overcrowded text on product labels.
Electronic labels leverage the universal presence of smartphone technology in our daily lives to enable access to expanded product information at the point of consideration for a sale. Not only can brands utilize e-labels for the purposes of ensuring higher consumer transparency, it could be an opportunity for some innovation in packaging and branding. Smart packaging and interactive product labels can lead to a more personalized, interesting and fun shopping experience for richer, smarter and thoughtful customer engagement and experiences.
Electronic labels can reinvent smaller enterprises and farmers
There are plenty of smaller enterprises that pride over their organic produce. Fresh produce from such farms generally do not carry any outer packaging, save for a tiny sticker. These enterprises can capitalize on these tiny stickers to deliver rich content to their consumers. A single data matrix code on a sticker can elevate a orange into a connect smart product. Scanning its sticker will tell the potential buyer how and where the single orange was grown, the date it was harvested, temperature and storage conditions it was under as well as the locations it has passed through before reaching a local supermarket. It can carry information verifying its organic nature and lack of any bio-engineered content through certifications. Electronic labels can help smaller enterprises and farmers reimagine their business practices by appealing to a more technologically savvy market base.
And that is not all that a simple data matrix code can do. Its traceability feature will also help smaller enterprises come onto a shared system of collaborators in events of contaminated and poisoned food circulating the market.
It is the responsibility of every enterprise which works to grow and distribute food, to ensure a bountiful supply of safe and fresh produce to the mass. Meshing the digital and physical world is the key to securing the integrity of the fresh food supply chain.
Counterfeit medicines are fake and of sub-standard quality that pose considerable risk to people due to contamination, lack of active ingredients or incorrect dosage of active ingredients. With more people preferring to buy medicines online, the market for counterfeit medicines is not just thriving, but the most lucrative of all global trade in falsified and illegally copied goods, netting in 150-200 billion euros (US$163 billion to $217 billion) annually.
Not only are these falsified medicines putting millions of people in harm’s way, they can potentially cause death. According to the estimates of World Health Organisation (WHO), 1 million people globally lose their lives due to falsified medicines. Missing active ingredients can render medication for otherwise curable or preventable diseases useless. In cases of fake medicines flooding the market becoming known to the public, it’s the name of the brand that comes under fire.
The number of counterfeit medicines in the market continue to rise because of more sophisticated means employed by counterfeiters to break or circumvent security measures, lack of law enforcement, complex supply chains and the rising popularity of e-commerce. According to WHO, upto 50% of the drugs bought online are fake.
Governments around the world are turning to technology to tackle the situation by introducing regulations that maintain supply chain integrity in order to ensure authentic medicines reach consumers. The EU’s Falsified Medicines Directive, which went live In February this year, is a prime example. With its primary focus on the identification and serialization of individual packs of medicines, the regulation (1), which was issued in 2016, establishes mandatory unique identifiers on individual packs comprising of a product code, a serial number based on a randomised algorithm, a reimbursement number according to the countries which the medicine is marketed in, a batch number and expiry date.
We are at a tipping point with advancements in cloud based capabilities and technology to realize the mass deployment of smart packaging on everyday consumer products, including pharma products, as reality. It is now possible to digitize hundreds and millions of products and maintain their records on the cloud rapidly, in real time and at a low cost.
Digital tags like RFID, NFC stickers, QR codes, data matrix and barcodes can elevate a simple box of medicine as smart and intelligent by creating a digital twins of it, on an individual and batch level, allowing it to exist on the web as a digital record with its own unique and secure identity. By allowing every pharma product to have an identity on the internet, we enable an Internet of Things ecosystem of sorts, where digital tags are used to help items that could not have otherwise linked to the web on its own. These identities or digital twins do not face the barriers that their physical counterparts do. They can carry a limitless amount of information ranging from product information, geo-location to certifications on the cloud or database, facilitating a track and trace feature. The track and trace feature is the key to ensuring authentic medicines travel down the supply chain to stores. Digital tags can be scanned by smartphones and other simple reading equipment to enable supply chain partners as well as consumers to quickly pull up feed on the journey a particular medicine box has taken and verify its authenticity.
A similar feature to leverage smart packaging to deliver authentic medicines is the pharma serialization being adopted by the EU and the United States. Under this feature, each product item at an individual level contains a unique identifier in the form of a combination of numbers which is stored in a centralized hub and can be accessed through scanning a 2D barcode. The unique serial codes help sieve through fake medicines by identifying those that are genuine.
Serialization and digital twin powered track and trace features are just the tip of the iceberg with the value that smart packaging creates for businesses. They can also contribute to improved supply chain efficiencies by granting more visibility into supply chain operations. Digitization of all business operations to fight and reduce counterfeit medicines could be the prodding that pharma companies need to modernize and implement wide ranging and lasting solutions that can prise open revenue channels in quite different directions. Smart packaging on pharma products enable multitudes of potential applications ranging from smoother inventory management, higher health literacy to better clinical trial management as well as creation of richer and more dynamic customer interactions and experiences. Low cost mass smart packaging solutions also open up possibilities for using it as a conduit for two way communication with consumers, where consumers can alert authorities and suppliers to detection of counterfeit products. A digital stamp to verify genuineness will also encourage safer distribution of medicines through e-commerce platforms.
However, a digital transformation of all supply chain operations requires the partnership of all stakeholders involved. Pharma supply chains are highly complex and involve diverse participants like manufacturers, suppliers, technology providers, packaging partners and retailers. For pharma serialization or track and trace features to work, brands will need to actively seek and involve the participation and support of all its partners. As each individual product moves down the supply chain, each participant will need to scan and verify and record the events on the cloud to enable generation of accurate and real time data.
Illicit trade in falsified and substandard medicines and medical devices inflict significant damage on both consumers and brand reputation. Technological protection is the key to securing supply chain integrity in order to ensure consumers have access to safe and authentic medicines and medical devices. The investment needed to overhaul supply chain operations in order to digitize them can be an opportunity for them to modernize their businesses by leveraging existing technology. Not only will serialization and track and trace capabilities help brands thwart counterfeiters, they can be utilized to create more value by creating new channels for revenue generation. A brand that has secured its supply chain integrity, has secured its reputation. And, a brand that has an exemplary reputation for going the extra mile to protect its products from the clutches of counterfeiters, and as a result protect the health of millions of consumers, ensures its place as a market leader for the years to come.
Newport Beach, CA, March 26th 2019 – We are delighted to announce that QLIKTAG Software has been featured in the latest edition of CIO Review’s special on “50 Most Promising IoT Solution Providers – 2019”. CIO Review is a leading technology magazine for enterprises and solution providers that contribute to exciting developments in technology driven solutions. The feature covers game changing IoT solution providers who are radically transforming industries by tackling complex challenges.
Highlighted in the cover prepared by CIO Review was the QLIKTAG IoT Connected Smart Products Platform, which aims to revolutionize the very concept of Internet of Things by bringing everyday consumer products to the web.
“Our purpose built IoT solution helps seamlessly maintain a digital representation – a digital twin – as they go through the lifecycle from manufacturing to consumption”
– Dilip Daswani, CEO, QLIKTAG Software
QLIKTAG’s solution empowers brands to overcome the physical limitations of traditional packaging and labels by expanding into the digital realm and delivering intuitive and interactive product labels or smart labels with extended actions. It encompasses an innovative engine that helps companies tag products with a unique digital identity, creating interactive digital experiences for both consumers and retailers. Brands can then unleash a plethora of IoT enabled applications based on smart labels, ranging from superior product management, clearer visibility into supply chain as well as unique consumer facing interactions.
The company is looking forward to the upcoming release in 2019, of an innovative feature-addition to our platform, which will let retailers and manufacturers design and create APIs to customize data acquisition methods into their systems.
The QLIKTAG IoT Connected Smart Products Platform is seeing a rising number of takers from the CPG, Health, Beauty and FMCG industries across the globe for its scalable and fresh approach to redefining supply chain operations and customer experiences. Read the complete article by CIO Review here.
QLIKTAG Software Inc. is an innovator of software solutions that bridges the gap between brands and buyers, fostering trust, stronger relationships and more personalized connections between the two.
Headquartered in Newport Beach, California, the QLIKTAG IoT Connected Smart Products Platform is a one of a kind platform raising everyday consumer products as “Smart Products” through an internet identifier and a “digital twin” for each batch, product or serial instance. This allows the product to send or receive information over the internet through its lifecycle enabling a wide range of smart applications & business processes from traceability, authentication, personalization, activation, customer engagement, re-order and more.
Neil Sequeira Director of Product Management & Marketing, Qliktag Software Inc. firstname.lastname@example.org +1 949-360-3888 Website: www.qliktag.com Twitter: @qliktag
Every organization knows the value of product information management systems in order to manage and track their product data for optimum product lifecycle management. But is that enough? With IoT in Retail gaining traction and more and more enterprises looking to digitally transform their supply chain operations, it is time to look beyond the traditional PIM functions and applications.
Current PIM systems exist largely for internal use within the enterprise, available to employees with varying degrees of access privileges and interactions. They help in storing and retrieving product information and attributes of every item within an organization’s product catalog. PIMs contain heaps of valuable data, which when provided context, can transform it into a powerful tool for enterprises to elevate their businesses.
While, PIM systems are inward facing systems to power internal applications, in order to become outward facing systems that can serve attributes to external systems and applications, there are a host of features and changes required. By connecting PIMs to the cloud through powerful middleware IoT platforms like the Qliktag IoT Connected Smart Products Platform, brands can pull data from their PIM systems and feed external internet applications and systems securely in the required formats that drive IoT systems and internet applications online.
The question that brands need to be asking right now is how can they further leverage the data existing within their internal PIM systems to power external applications to improve supply chain efficiency, provide consumer transparency, deploy electronic labels, traceability data, improve consumer experiences and more. They need to realize that the product information that employees have access to is equally valuable to customers if not more so. The purpose of IoT connected products or smart packaging solutions is to convert real time data into actual business value. With a large repository of data already sitting in their PIMs, combined with a cloud platform and appropriate middleware to expose it to customers via secure APIs, customer-facing data can have a wide range of valuable applications.
Reinforce Consumer Transparency
The data in PIM in combination with an IoT cloud platform can elevate everyday consumer products into smart connected products with digital twins capable of telling their own story. Digital twins for each product on batch and SKU level can be used to feed electronic product labels like SmartLabels that can be activated on the packaging via a smartphone or any other scanning device. Brands can not only offer complete and accurate information like provenance, expiry dates, ingredients and allergen lists etc. to customers, but also create easy-to-read, attractive and interactive interfaces to do so while leveraging a familiar and ubiquitous technology platform.
The ability to read and write data back to a digital twin when the physical product moves from one point in the supply chain to the next means customers will be able to track and trace the entire journey the product they are contemplating on buying has taken from its source to the shelf.
Enable POS interactions
Personalization is the trend that will dictate competition in the retail industry in the coming years. Personalized and curated content like promo codes, discounts, offers and loyalty programs become easier to implement with smart connected products on the shelf which are autonomously communicating with their digital twins. Collating and organizing information for a vast number of consumer items according to individual customer preferences involves the generation of a large amount of data, something which becomes possible with a database based on a cloud platform connected.
Drive omni-channel retail experience
Data is at the heart of superior customer experiences across multiple channels. What separates e-retail from brick and mortar stores is the extent of the personalized features and experiences offered by the former, which become possible due to their ability to collect and store a large amount of data at every stage of the customer’s journey from point of consideration to an actual sale.
Brick and mortar stores can gain an equal footing through IoT Cloud / PIM hybrid applications to implement omni-channel retail experiences in order to provide a seamless, integrated and consistent experience to customers. By converting product information sitting in their repositories into meaningful stories, thus creating context, they can deliver rich, meaningful and insightful experiences through digital product labels.
Every enterprise needs to keep an eye on technology trends giving direction to their respective industries. They cannot stop at simpler and leaner supply chain operations, but innovate to future-proof their businesses in order to maintain a competitive edge. IoT enabled smart packaging and smart connected products are the future of retail with data being its core. Enterprises can leverage their existing PIMs by reining in this power of data and giving context to the product information stored in their respective PIM solutions. By exposing product data to customers, previously only available to employees, through IoT middleware and smart packaging to enable multiple IoT applications that deliver intelligent and delightful customer experiences, enterprises will have ensured their place in the future of retail.
With the rise of hardware and software platforms to connect every object in the physical world to the internet, Internet of Things is a technology trend that has come a long way. It is molding how people interact with their environment and how they have come to rely on smartphones and the internet to fulfil daily tasks and requirements. And similar to a lot of industries, it is also making its way into the food and beverages industry. IoT is making every aspect of the food industry smarter through a combination of IoT smart connected products gathering data throughout the supply chain and intelligent algorithms converting them into smart insights. Let us take a look at some applications within the industry that are already transforming how we think about food manufacturing, processing and safety.
A combination of digital tags on everyday consumer products and tracking sensors on transportation facilities can enable manufacturers to keep track of their products at every stage within the supply chain, leading to more efficient and leaner supply chain operations. Zeroing on and connecting to the source of production to initiate product recalls in case of damaged goods becomes simpler and faster by connecting every item on a batch and serial level to the internet. Brands can ensure ingredients for finished food products are all sourced ethically and responsibly while providing this information to their customers if individual ingredients are also hooked to the web.
IoT empowers brands and manufacturers with improved visibility into the journey of a particular food item from source or manufacturing plant to the shelf of a retail store. Qliktag is an IoT platform that enables brands to connect everyday consumer products creating digital twins or counterparts for each item on the internet, allowing them to deploy them as connected smart products, sharing each of their actions across the supply chain.
2. Consumer Transparency
In this digital age, not only are modern consumers used to being able to access vast quantities of information through their smartphones, the information has made them more aware of their world and the consequences of their consumption and lifestyle choices on the society and environment.
Through means of scannable digital tags like QR codes, NFC stickers, datamatrix codes, barcodes and RFID tags, brands have the opportunity to leverage the smartphone technology by choosing smart packaging as the medium for digital disclosure product information. The SmartLabel initiative, created by the Trading Partner Alliance (TPA), is a prime example. With the aim to digitize label content and champion increased consumer transparency, the SmartLabel QR code enabled products on the platform allow consumers to quickly assess important information like expiry dates, provenance, certifications and promo offers apart from an ingredients list, in attractive, interactive and easy to read formats.
3. Improved Food Safety
IoT is already being harnessed by smart kitchens and restaurants to monitor the temperature and other storage conditions of food items to heighten and maintain product quality. In fact, there are quite a few innovative projects that are developing solutions that combine smart sensors and cloud based predictive analytics to predict certain pathogens before a potential outbreak occurs. SugarCreek Packing Co.’s plant in Indiana is a one of the many manufacturing facilities that’s hooking up each piece of machinery on the factory floor to the internet through smart sensors. These sensors that can detect biochemical and chemical reactions during the harvesting, manufacturing and transportation stages, allowing identification of certain pathogens and their removal before they move down the supply chain.
4. Leaner Inventory Management
Smart connected products can also be a game changer for IoT solutions in retail. Digitized products through smart packaging connecting to the cloud and updating their status autonomously will give rise to smoother and more efficient inventory management operations. Employees working in warehouses will have an accurate idea pertaining to the number of units per item and products nearing their expiry dates. IoT will enable simpler, smarter and more intelligent inventory management solutions that are cost effective, efficient and reduce wastage due to overstocking.
5. Reduction in Food Wastage
Smarter inventory management process will result in faster detection of expiry dates as well as more efficient stocking operations, reducing food wastage due to spoilage. Smarter storage and transportation facilities make it possible to control and maintain ideal conditions for food items so that they do not spoil. Smart connected products will be able to update details regarding their quality on their own in their digital counterparts, making it easier for warehouse employees to quickly identify any food item nearing its expiry date. IoT enabled intelligent processes can also help retailers to contribute more to food banks.
Zest Lab’s innovative ZIPR code (Zest Intelligent Pallet Routing) was developed with the aim to improve the efficiency of logistics post harvest and identify critical points across the supply chain where wastage occurs. ZIPR allows live tracking of the freshness of each pallet of produce using a combination of wireless IoT sensors and cloud based predictive analytics and machine learning, making it simpler to make decisions regarding how far a department store should a particular pallet be transported to, depending on its freshness.
6. Fighting Counterfeit Food Products
Enabling every single food item to have their own individual identity in the form of a digital twin on the internet does not just make it simple to track and update, but also makes it possible to separate from counterfeit items. Both consumers and distributors down the supply chain will benefit hugely by being able to scan digital tags on food packaging to confirming their authenticity, eliminating large blocks of substandard and fraudulent food products in the market. IoT enabled smart connected products are powerful tools for brands to establish trust with their consumers by ensuring the genuineness and quality of their products.
7. Better Control on Food Quality
Smart transportation containers and refrigerators make it possible to control the environment for food storage remotely. Any changes to the storage conditions can be detected quickly making troubleshooting a far simpler process. Advanced and intelligent storage and transportation containers make it possible to maintain the consistency of a food product’s quality.
Technology is the key to smarter, leaner and safer food processing systems that help brands create more intelligent and sustainable supply chain events that are transparent, cost effective and promote higher quality and safer consumption of food products.
According to the estimates of World Health Organisation (WHO), 1
million people globally lose their lives due to falsified medicines. It is the
most lucrative of all counterfeiting businesses, netting in 150-200
billion euros per year. In order to put a stop to this trend, the EU introduced
a scheme, which went live on 9 February 2019, for the identification and
serialisation of individual packs of medicine. The serialisation scheme has
been initiated under the EU’s Falsified Medicines Directive (FMD) of 2011 in an
effort to fight counterfeiting of drugs through regulation (1) which was issued
in 2016 and establishes safety features for packaging on medical products and
devices. The primary focus for the regulation was that all packaging on
pharmaceutical products need to carry a unique identifier for individual packs
This is an example of how packaging can do much more than their traditional roles of dispensing product information and protecting the contents from external environmental conditions like changes in temperature and moisture. With the EU defining standards for serialisation of pharmaceutical packaging, there is an opportunity for the industry to go a step further and use this serial item identifier to exchange more information via smart packaging and IoT connected smart products. The serialised identifier and data matrix code on the packaging can be used to power other innovative digital interactions and applications. Here, we will take a look at some extended applications for product serialisation and smart packaging that can help brands, manufacturers and consumers alike.
Supply Chain Integrity
Product serialisation on batch and individual levels offers more than just compliance to regulations. When combined with digital twins, it is an excellent means to keep track of all supply chain operations, track and trace data and more. Serialisation will involve establishing a unique identification for each individual pack of medicine and communicate the same to all participants down the supply chain. A digital twin works in a similar fashion, maintaining a unique identity and an associated digital record of each product throughout its lifecycle. This means that manufacturers can access information regarding products more quickly, including their associated distribution records, and easily track a product to the source during any product holds or recall situation.
Smart packaging will not just involve the upgrading of all packaging, but dedicated investments into a data aggregation system and software solutions in order to identify, maintain and connect serialised numbers and label content to the aggregator. These investments are an opportunity for brands and manufacturers to develop and implement smart packaging solutions for their pharmaceutical products as well as enjoy simpler, more transparent and cost-effective supply chains and stock control.
Interactive Packaging For Safer Medical
Product serialisation and smart packaging can go beyond
enhancing supply chain operations. They can transform the way healthcare
professionals and patients interact with their medicines and medical devices.
Smart packaging with digital labels on them, that can be scanned by smartphones
and other similar devices, can contribute immensely to better health literacy
and patient compliance. It is estimated that non-adherence to medication
annually costs the EU 125 billion euros and causes 200,000 deaths.
A product’s digital twin can easily store relevant information
without any space limitations, information which is easily accessible through a
smartphone app. This information can range from dosage, expiry dates, number of
tablets left, reminders to take medicine and additional instructions from
doctors to detailed and easy to understand IFUs. It can also provide an
interface for healthcare professionals to remotely update any changes or
collect reliable and richer data such as side effects and efficacy of product
from patients for research purposes.
We need to think and reinvent how we can extend the abilities of
packaging to adapt to future requirements as we see a rise in cases of poor
compliance to medication and an ageing population in the developing world.
Smart intelligent packaging can bring healthcare professionals and patients
closer, promote safer consumption of medicines and improve the overall quality
of healthcare and clinical trials.
The primary reason for the introduction of the mandatory
regulation for product serialisation by the EU has been to counter threats to
drug integrity due to the vast number of falsified medicines floating in the
market. Counterfeit medicines pose a serious public health risk as even a small
amount of substandard ingredient in a product can harm or potentially kill a
patient. According to the new EU regulation, the unique identifiers should
comprise of a product code, a serial number based on a randomised algorithm, a
reimbursement number according to the countries which the medicine is marketed
in, a batch number and expiry date. These numbers should be encoded into a
2-dimensional barcode within a machine readable data matrix which can be easily
and accurately deciphered using simple scanning equipment.
Similar to this process, a unique identity in the form of a
digital twin for each product can also be maintained on the internet. The
digital twin stores information pertaining to its authenticity throughout the
supply chain, being scanned and verified by each participant, from manufacturer
Serialisation and digital twins ensure that each saleable
package of medicine is accounted for by all possible participants within a
supply chain, allowing stores selling them as well as consumers to verify the
authenticity of each individual product.
In fact, tracking data at serial item and batch level can help
combat counterfeit products. Smart packaging with expanded abilities can allow
consumers to scan and then report counterfeit products, allowing brands to keep
an eye on locations and sources for them.
The new regulations for product serialisation and technological
advancements together provide an opportunity for brands and manufacturers to
upgrade packaging into more than a covering with basic product information for
its contents. Apart from adherence to regulations for accountability of
individual packs of medication as well as optimized logistics, they open up a
wide array of possibilities to deliver delightful and intelligent interactions
to consumers. Smart packaging holds the potential to bridge the gap between
healthcare professionals and patients. It is the key to making supply chain
events more transparent and much more easy to track and trace at all points of
action. Extended actions of smart packaging combined with serialisation such as
these need not be restricted to just pharmaceutical products. We’re already
seeing significant efforts to serialise everyday consumer products such as
foods, groceries, cigarettes, cosmetics and more.
What was the last thing you bought online? Why didn’t you go to a store to buy it? Was it for the vast number of items you could scroll through before making a choice or the recommendations that the website or app pulled up for you, remembering your choices and interests from a previous visit, or the ease with which you paid for it with a card whose details were already stored with the website?
The online shopping experience is leaps and bounds ahead of the traditional experience in terms of using data and technology to provide unique and personalized customer experiences. While brick and mortar stores also have their own upsides, the move towards omni-channel retailing today is key.
So what does an omni-channel experience really mean? The term refers to merging of services and features of multiple channels in order to provide a seamless, integrated and consistent experience to users. It means bringing the best of online shopping to the physical store to enrich customer experiences and create new channels for revenue generation.
The reason that e-retailers are able to provide a vast number of superior and personalized features is because of access to a larger volume of data and analytics. Their algorithms are constantly monitoring your every step, from consideration to the point where a sale occurs. Traditional retailers need the same approach and connected products under Internet of Things provide a way to do exactly that.
A digital transformation of store assets by connecting them to each other and the internet through means of sensors or digital tags (barcodes, QR codes, Datamatrix codes, NFC & RFID tags) working together with AI and cloud computing, will result in smart connected products at every point within a customer’s journey, collecting and analyzing data.
Many brands already have an online presence as well as applications from where one can directly buy their products. However, a true omni-channel retail experience is one where it works in tandem with, influences and enhances the in-store shopping experience.
A number of leading brands are also coming up with innovations to improve customer engagement and play to their expectations born from online buying habits regarding a seamless and hassle-free shopping experience.
Here is a look at the areas within a brick and mortar store that could see incorporation of connected products to facilitate an omni-channel retail experience.
Analytics and personalized services and features go hand in hand together. Brands need to know about their customers in order to curate services for them. Data on a customer’s journey across the store, products they pick up or put back, keeping track of their past purchases and recommending more according to that, and extending coupons and offers specifically for them; feeding data of such nature into algorithms that perform analytics then deliver insights upon which personalized services can then be built.
Kroger has partnered up with Microsoft to roll out EDGE Shelves (Enhanced Display for Grocery Environment). Equipped with digital displays, these shelves promise to provide a unique guided customer experience. The solution will also utilize in-store sensors to identify individual shoppers and extend custom recommendations, promotions and offers as well as other personalized content.
Customer’s in-store journey:
The journey of a user buying things online is not too complex; browse, select, pay. If they are a regular customer, chances are the app already knows their delivery points and payment details. A similar journey is far more difficult to emulate inside a retail store. The popularity of Endless Aisles technology is a step in this direction. This technology is based on the observation of how some people fail to find a particular product in their size or colour. No problem! They can simply place an order with their specifications using an endless aisle in the form of an interactive kiosk within the store itself, and the product gets delivered at their doorstep in a couple of days. It’s a win-win situation; customers don’t leave the store unsatisfied and the retailer does not lose out on a sale.
Another feature gaining traction is “click and collect/return”, where customers can place orders through the brand website or mobile app and collect their items from a store at their own convenience.
Smartphones are everywhere and 71% of consumers use theirs to conduct research on products before buying them in-store. Retailers can capitalize on this medium’s ubiquitousness and familiarity to create a similar experience inside retail stores. Modern consumers are also more conscious of how their lifestyle choices, including products they buy and consume, impact the environment and society. Electronic labeling practices incorporating scannable QR codes, RFID tags or NFC stickers, let the customer pull up expanded product information instantly on their smartphones, presenting more than a simple ingredients list, and allowing the brand to display the entire journey of the product from its origin to the shelf. These tags can be further utilized to enrich customer experiences by providing tailor made content for a particular customer such as promotions and offers.
In-store navigation services are another example where connected smart products can contribute to unique multi-channel experiences. Retailer Target has installed store fixtures like LED lights which have built-in bluetooth beacons. Their app takes advantage of these beacons to locate users inside the store and guide them to their desired locations by pulling feed from shopping lists stored by the user on it. French Retail giant Carrefour in partnership with Philips has implemented a similar system, however using Visible Light Communication (VLC) technology instead. VLC enabled LEDs emit a code that is readable by any camera on a smartphone, connecting customers to the digital experience provided by the store through their app.
Beating the Queue
Amazon Go is the true embodiment of what a connected retail store of the future will look like. Customers in these cashierless stores need not stand in long queues for checkout as they can just grab what they wish to purchase and walk out. The exit turnstiles trigger an automatic payment from the customer’s credit card, which is already stored on the app, on leaving the store. Not only are these stores getting rid of one of the most annoying bits about shopping in a a brick and mortar store, they are also combining multiple sensors across the store to collect a treasure trove of valuable data. Weight sensors on shelves know exactly when an item is removed from the shelf, or when it is put back. Multiple cameras track and record each customer’s movements within the store. Computer vision along with intelligent algorithms combine to create a unique identification for each customer and separate them from others.
Traditional brick and mortar stores are in an urgent need to innovate in order to maintain a competitive edge by keeping up with consumer expectations and habits, which are constantly evolving thanks to e-commerce. They need to look towards Internet of Things and establish a connected and digital ecosystem within their stores which collect valuable data on their customers, data that can then be converted into smart insights, on the foundation of which smart decisions can be taken to provide sophisticated, delightful and engaging customer experiences.
Here is an infographic showing “Implementation and National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard Timeline and Items Checklist”
With concerns rising amongst citizens, the USDA issued the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard (NBFDS) last month intended for manufacturers, importers, retailers and other entities in retail space for the disclosure of bioengineered food and ingredients on product labels. The move was made with a view to bring in more transparency and provide consumers with standardized formats to disclose information pertaining to bioengineered food products.
Earlier referred to as Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), the new Standard has come up with the term “Bioengineered” (BE) for genetically modified food products. The USDA defines bioengineered food and ingredients as food that contains genetic material that has been modified through in vitro recombinant deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) techniques, and for which the modification could not otherwise be obtained through conventional breeding or found in nature. Under the new Standard, highly refined foods and ingredients like syrup, sugar and vegetable oils, without any detectable genetically modified material, are exempt from disclosure as food items that contain them will not be considered as bioengineered.
What does this mean for food brands & manufacturers in terms of compliance with the regulation?
The USDA has laid down four channels that concerned entities can use for BE disclosure:
(1) text, (2) symbol, (3) electronic or digital link or (4) text messages.
Out of these, electronic labels or digital links appear to be the quickest, possibly the least disruptive method of quick compliance with the new regulation. Electronic BE foods disclosure can have some upsides; It is a sustainable, efficient and cost-effective method to dispense valuable product data to consumers while leveraging the smartphone technology and its ubiquitousness. It also supports changes to label content instantly without reprinting or having to change the entire packaging every time there is an update that needs to be shared with consumers, a useful feature to accommodate future changes in labeling standards.
Electronic or digital disclosure can be achieved through a digital link or a scannable QR code placed on the product packaging, which on being scanned will take the user to the appropriate landing page containing the product data.
NBFDS stipulates that the BE symbol be placed in an immediately visible spot on this page, potentially looking something like this:
The SmartLabel program presents an excellent scope to comply with these regulations. The SmartLabel initiative spearheaded by the GMA is already bringing in QR code-based digital labeling practices, having added over 25,000 products under its helm. Not only does it provide expanded product information, but it also ensures content is delivered in a standardized format which is easy to break down and absorb by consumers.
The clock is ticking as concerned entities have till January 1, 2020 and January 1, 2021 for small food manufacturers, to comply with and implement the new Standard, with the mandatory compliance date set at January 1, 2022. The urgency to begin exploring solutions for BE regulations compliance before the NBFDS takes full effect has begun and the time to act and implement a viable strategy is running out.
FinancesOnline (December 2018) – QLIKTAG SOFTWARE INC, innovator of an IoT platform for everyday consumer products, is elated to announce that its ‘QLIKTAG – IoT Connected Smart Products Platform’ has been reviewed by FinancesOnline, bagging two awards: Great User Experience 2018 and Rising Star 2018. The FinancesOnline research measures and scores SaaS platforms, including top IT development software solutions, on the basis of a combination of insights from internal experts as well as real users. Their assessment balances functionality of products with user satisfaction.
“QLIKTAG’s purpose-built IoT platform helps seamlessly maintain a digital representation of products—a digital twin—as they go through the lifecycle from manufacturing to consumption. We are proud to be featured by a leading outlet like FinancesOnline for our vision to digitally transform and disrupt the IoT for Retail Space and bring ordinary everyday consumer products under the Internet of Things and use that to develop smarter applications.” comments Dilip Daswani, CEO, QLIKTAG Software.
Particularly highlighted in the QLIKTAG IoT Connected Smart Products Platform overview prepared by FinancesOnline was its exceptional user experience, which allows users to quickly design and deploy interactive digital labels and SmartLabels through a simple drag and drop interface, and establish a two-way communication channel with consumers buying in retail stores to gather rich insights into customer behaviour. Being highlighted among FinancesOnline’s 20 IT development tools this 2019, the QLIKTAG platform was commended for its ease and accuracy in creating digital twins of consumer products, ensuring complete visibility into each product’s journey from manufacturer to consumer as well as allowing them to fulfill functions like product information collection, authentication and warranty activation to make smarter decisions to drive business growth and applications.
About QLIKTAG Software QLIKTAG Software Inc. is an innovator of software solutions that bridges the gap between brands and buyers, fostering, trust, stronger relationships and more personalized connections between the two.
Headquartered in Newport Beach, California, the QLIKTAG IoT Connected Smart Products Platform is a one of kind platform raising everyday consumer products as “Smart Products” through an internet identifier and a “digital twin” for each batch, product or serial instance. This allows the product to send or receive information over the internet through its lifecycle enabling a wide range of smart applications & business processes from traceability, authentication, personalization, activation, customer engagement, re-order and more.
Media Contact: Kim Simonalle Director, Client Experience Qliktag Software Inc. Kim.Simonalle@qliktag.com 203-583-9350
Approximately 1.3 billion tonnes or one-third of the food produced in the world for human consumption gets wasted every year, amounting to a loss of roughly $680 billion in industrialized countries. More than 40% of this waste and loss occurs at the retail and consumer level.
There are a multitude of ways to tackle this problem. On analyzing where food wastage occurs at the retail level, one of the factors that comes up is overstocking. Overstocking generally occurs as a result of inaccurate demand forecasting resulting in the accumulation of unused stocks. Under the aegis of the Industry 4.0 movement, we are seeing a revolution in big data and analytics as more and more brands and manufacturers are employing IoT powered demand sensing technology to better anticipate demand and streamline production and supply chains. But what if we take this one step further?
The Industry 4.0 espouses a connected and automated ecosystem which was first undertaken in the manufacturing sector. Going by the term Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), it involves incorporating sensors and AI into the physical assets on the manufacturing floor, collecting, storing and transmitting a wide range of data. Level sensors are being used for management of liquid asset inventories, the working condition of a machine being monitored with sensors analyzing its temperature and vibrations as well as sensors instantly tracking and alerting to a breakdown or malfunction. Sensor technology has reshaped industrial manufacturing by creating seamless and automated intelligent systems.
However, applications of IoT and sensor technology need not be bound to the confines of the manufacturing sector. For the Retail sector and CPG industry, IoT suggests possibilities beyond just an enriched shopping experience at a brick and mortar store. IoT powered technology possesses enormous potential to solve inventory management issues, especially overstocking and waste reduction.
Currently, a lot of brands are using predictive analytics on the basis of demand sensing which involves collecting and combining data from multiple sources in real time throughout the supply chain to better assess the demand for certain products. Smart shelves equipped with sensors to detect the addition and removal of items placed on them are also gaining momentum with retailers to monitor and update their inventory in real time. These smart shelves are also capable of recognizing cases of low stock and alerting management, thus freeing up store employees to engage with customers.
But what if the data collection does not stop at the shelf? What if brands could have access to real time data on the consumption habits of its consumers?
A crossover of level sensors from industrial plants to food packaging could provide a solution for this purpose where smart food packaging can play a major role in providing the interface to gather more information of such nature. A liquid level sensor implanted into the packaging of a juice bottle could detect when the bottle is empty and store that information against a digital twin or instance of the bottle stored online. The particular brand can access all this information in real time through the digital twin. Data of this nature opens up new perspectives into understanding consumer behaviour and consumption patterns. It can then be used to more accurately predict demand and pinpoint locations where this demand will occur. Having a clearer picture of when a particular product will be in demand, manufacturers will be able to better plan production cycles as well as manage distribution channels. Stores will be able to have the right product, in the right amount, at the right time, avoiding overstocking and thereby reducing wastage due to spoilage.
However, the main barrier to adopting connected products on such a large magnitude is the lack of cheap and small sensors in the market. For an operation of this nature to be successful, we would require sensors that could be embedded into packaging without altering or affecting the properties and appearance of the product in any manner. These sensors would also need to be very affordable to be mass produced for millions of everyday consumer products.
Nonetheless, current research in sensor development looks promising. Rvmagnetics has already come up with what they claim to be the world’s smallest sensor. Based on microwire technology and magnetic fields, the thin as hair sensor is capable of sending accurate and real time data regarding physical quantities like temperature, pressure, torsion, position etc. Even though these sensors have been developed for the industrial sector, it is an encouraging start towards the idea of adapting IIoT sensor technology for the retail atmosphere.
Technology bolstered by the IoT platform can not only improve business practices, but positively impact the lives of everyday people, reduction of food wastage being a part of it. Within the broader context of the Industry 4.0, sensor driven technology is just part of the journey towards the digital transformation of the physical world, but a part that holds limitless potential and scope for waste reduction and streamlining demand-supply chains in the retail sector. But it is the manufacturing sector where the ideals of the Industry 4.0 have flourished the most. Retailers could take a leaf out of their book and bring sensors used in factories into the brick and mortar stores for smarter inventory management solutions. For this to become a reality, we need to see a bigger shift in existing beliefs and ideology in order to prioritize research into industrial level sensors that can be applied to the packaging on food products sitting on the shelves in retail stores.