Article contributed by Kurt Webber, Marketing Manager, Blanco Labels
Smart packaging is becoming increasingly popular with businesses of all sizes. From food and beverages to high-end electronics, companies are using this innovative technology to instill confidence in consumers and keep track of their products. If you’re looking to make the right impression on your consumers, track your products in real-time or extend the shelf life of your perishable products, smart packaging may be the right choice for you and your business.
Smart packaging can take many different forms. Regardless of the size of your business, you can reap the many benefits of this innovative technology. Here are just some of the ways your business can incorporate smart technology into your product packaging.
If you sell perishable products that could start to stink after a few days, you can use odor-eliminating film in the plastic packaging to prevent these smells from affecting the rest of your shipment or stinking up the store while your products are on display. Zeolite–cellulose nanofibril films help you lock in odors and create a pleasant shopping experience for the consumer.
Special Liners and Barriers
Perishable products have a limited shelf life, but you can extend their shelf life if you improve the integrity of your product containers and packaging. Using special liners and barriers to restrict airflow insulate your products and prevent them from going sour. You can extend the value of your products and reduce the overall number of shipments. Consumers will also like the idea of buying products that won’t spoil after a few days.
Intelligent Packaging for Tracking Freshness
While perishable products already come with expiration dates, you can take things one step further by adding intelligent packaging to your products that communicate with customers in real-time. If a product is past its expiration date, the package will change colors or send a message to the consumer telling them they should avoid this item. Retailers can also keep an eye out for these products to avoid selling expired goods to consumers.
If you’re worried about the spread of bacteria such as E. coli, germs and other pathogens that can be detrimental to your products and consumers, you can use antimicrobial packaging to inform consumers if a product has been compromised. This special packaging is designed to detect and prevent the spread of bacteria and, if detected, the packaging will send a message to consumers and retailers, telling them to discard these products. You don’t have to worry about accidentally infecting the civilian population, which can result in a costly lawsuit.
Anti-Counterfeit and Anti-Tampering Labels
You can use special labels and sensors to make sure third parties don’t tamper with your products and replace them with counterfeit items. If the product seal or label has been damaged or tampered with in any way, smart sensors will send a message to your company, the retailer or the consumer, alerting everyone that the product may be illegitimate. Typically reserved for high-end products, these sensors help consumers and retailers spot a fake, which is critical if the product costs several hundred dollars or more.
Some product sensors and packaging materials will also communicate the location of the product in real-time. You can make sure your shipment reaches the retailer as scheduled. If there’s a delay, you can take corrective action immediately by informing consumers, your business partners or shareholders. Just like anti-tampering sensors, these trackers can help you keep an eye on valuable or irreplaceable items.
Scannable QR Codes
Many smart packages feature scannable QR barcodes that let consumers learn more about the products on the shelf. If they have a smartphone, consumers can scan the product label in the store and learn about how or where the product was made, get access to special discounts or recipes or leave product feedback. These barcodes tend to be full of valuable information that strengthen the consumer-brand relationship.
Cloud-Connected Product Sensors
Companies have started inserting small chips or product sensors into their product packaging that send information directly to the cloud. You and your consumers can access information about these products by logging into the cloud or scanning a code. These sensors can track the location of products, maintain their integrity and provide information to consumers.
Consumers love to be entertained. Like the QR barcodes mentioned above, interactive packaging encourages the consumer to take an active role. Long after they’ve purchased a product, consumers can scan these special barcodes with their smartphone or download an app that lets them play games, engage in fun activities or become part of an online community. You can make a lasting impression on the consumer by giving them more information about your products or getting them to engage with your brand.
Augmented Reality Packaging
Taking things a step further, augmented reality packaging fully immerses the consumer in the product. Using scannable barcodes, consumers can move their smartphone or tablet over the product or around the room to see their reality change before their eyes. They may see animated objects or characters, a branded message or an interactive game that alters their perception of reality in some way.
At the end of the day, all of these experiences enhance the relationship between the consumer and the manufacturer, driving sales and building customer loyalty. You can use some of these tools to improve the quality of your products, increase your bottom line and change the consumer’s relationship with your brand. From a PR standpoint, you’re showing your customers that you’re doing everything you can to keep them safe and make sure they’re satisfied with your products.
While some of this packaging technology can be expensive, investing in smart packaging can help you grow your business by setting your products apart from those of your competitors. You can capitalize on these features to make an indelible impression on your consumers they won’t soon forget.