Number’s up: How product identification coding is changing for the better

  • By Luigi Pistilli
  • February 10, 2016
  • General
  • Beverage
  • Food
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What is Unique Product Identification and who can benefit?

Today’s production line technologies have opened up new possibilities for manufacturers. It’s never been easier to assign, apply and verify unique codes to individual products. And Unique Product Identification (UPI) can benefit practically every industry, from cosmetics to automotive and food and beverage.

Here’s how.

Open up a new marketing channel, get new market insight

Smartphone-readable codes

The smartphone revolution shows no sign of abating. As of June 2015 there were 2.6 billion in use. By 2020 that figure is predicted to surge to 6.1 billion. Adding smartphone-readable codes to product packaging gives you a new platform, a new model, a new way to strengthen brand loyalty and increase sales through personalized interactions with consumers. It’s accountable. It’s direct. It cuts through the digital noise.

And, increasingly, consumers expect it.

Consumers want a personalized experience

Let’s talk numbers. According to a study by O2, 56% of consumers say they would be more inclined to use a retailer if it offered a good personalized experience. And a survey by Planet Retail and GS1 UK found that 24% of shoppers would use their smartphone scanner app to view more information about a product.

Consumers want to be able to research and verify their purchasing decisions. They want to know where their product comes from, what it’s made of, how it was manufactured, how it can be used. That depth of information simply cannot be added to packaging, where space is already at a premium. With smartphone-readable codes, however, you can feed consumers the information they seek while maintaining your unique package design.

Start a one-to-one dialogue

Like we said, consumers want marketing that’s personalized. With UPI you can add smartphone-readable promo codes to your packaging to start a one-to-one dialogue between you and the consumer. A pro-active way to develop engagement and build brand loyalty. And no more keying in long alphanumeric codes into websites for busy consumers.

Gather invaluable data and plot consumer trends

It’s not all one-way traffic. With UPI you manage your promotions so that when a consumer scans a code, you automatically receive information. Information such as what product has been purchased, where it was made, where it was purchased, and demographic data and so on. This allows you to gather invaluable market insight and helps you plot consumer trends. Knowledge is competitive advantage.

Improve your supply chain management

The implementation of item-level serialization in the pharmaceutical industry has highlighted the benefits of being able to track each individual product on a supply chain, from the point of manufacture to the point of purchase. The technology is there. It works. And there’s no reason it can’t be rolled out to other industries.

Know exactly where your products are, in real-time

UPI takes product traceability beyond standard aggregation. Code-driven, item-level ‘track and trace’ systems – where your product is scanned by every stakeholder – enables you to build efficient and secure supply chains that provide real-time performance data. With this transparency you know exactly where your products are at any time, right through the supply chain to the end customer.

Consumers can track their orders

High-level traceability benefits your customers too. Instead of waiting all day for deliveries that never come, they can use UPIs – shared by you in an email or text – to track the status of their order and when it will be delivered. Ideal for winning extra customer service points.

Insight into production line performance

UPI systems give you an unexpected window into production line performance. On food and beverage packaging lines, for example, including a number, letter or symbol that identifies specific sealing or filling heads allows you to quickly identify and repair costly defects such as incorrect fill levels.

Fight back against illicit trading

A widespread problem

Counterfeit products, piracy, and product diversion. Illicit trading is rife. The International Chamber of Commerce estimates that the global cost of counterfeiting and piracy was $1.7 trillion in 2015. Fraud in the food and drink industry costs UK manufacturers £11.2 billion per year alone.

Illicit trading damages brand reputation, erodes consumer faith in supply chains and sucks revenue out of legitimate businesses. It siphons tax revenues from governments. And it funds international crime organizations.

Fighting back with UPI codes

Illicit trading is a global problem. Stopping it is a significant challenge. But UPI codes give manufacturers an easy and effective way to fight back. Smartphone-readable codes in particular give retailers and consumers a fast way of validating a product’s authenticity by carrying data that helps to guarantee provenance – leaving brand integrity intact.


How do you make it work for you?

UPI coding is not possible without the necessary technological infrastructure to assign and apply unique product identification mechanisms. Choosing the right technology for your business depends on a number of factors: the type of product you manufacture, your packaging substrates, your existing production line infrastructure and more.

Our white paper has crucial information on how you can use UPI to build customer loyalty, verify product integrity, improve the efficiency of your production and logistics operations and cut out falsification of your products.

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