The consumer products and retail industry has undergone an evolution from mall to mail over the past decade. Brick-and-mortar retailers have aggressively sought out ways to remain competitive against the rising popularity of online shopping. E-commerce outlets are able to take advantage of a variety of tools to tag a consumer’s purchase history and autonomously analyze their buying patterns, but with limited exceptions, brick-and-mortar retailers have been unsuccessful in gathering consumer insights to the same degree. The solution to achieving longevity in retail lies in technology. The immediate feedback loop of consumer data that currently drives e-commerce can be available to any retailer, thanks to nanotechnology.
How Next-Gen Smart Labels Work: Management, Data Security and Transparency
High-speed digital label printers can now produce unique certified quick response (QR) codes for any type of label — i.e., each individual product has a unique code, unlike most QR code implementations to date that involve using the same code repeatedly. Smart label technology offers value from both an operational and consumer standpoint when applied to retail transactions. Scanning QR codes taps into a cloud-based network that instantaneously connects manufacturers, distributors, retailers and consumers. The system is complex in theory, but simple in practice for a retailer.
Implementing this technology can grant consumers access to real-time insights never-before-seen in traditional retail. Consumers can simply scan the code with their smartphone to reveal product authenticity, contents or ingredients, and past ownership history to show the full lifecycle of a product. Thus, the risk of buying counterfeit goods becomes nonexistent.
As the world becomes more dependent on cloud- and Internet of Things-powered systems, protecting private data is of paramount importance. However, security parameters can eliminate concerns over data privacy. Consumers can trust the next generation of smart labels, especially if they utilize a certificate authority. Each smartphone scan prompts the web browser to open a secure connect page that verifies a brand’s authority. A Certified Blue Label (CBL) security framework allows several cloud-based data transfers to occur at the same time without leaks. This type of smart label technology provides revolutionary retail applications along with the peace of mind among users concerned with data protection.
How Smart Labels Benefit Both Retailers and Consumers
Business success in the retail sector is founded upon an understanding of consumer behavior. Retailers can leverage insights from smart label scans to lower overhead costs and increase customer loyalty. Ultimately, retailers could use this data to offer geo-targeted coupons, increase product transparency, and make personalized recommendations to consumers. These companies can make special offers for in-store purchases, facilitate cross-brand promotional opportunities, optimize alert or recall systems for distributors and customers, and conduct more accurate monitoring for counterfeiting and diversions.
Furthermore, this solution gives end users the ability to make more informed purchase decisions than ever before, thanks to a simple phone scan. The consumer sees the greatest value in the form of increased traceability and transparency. Damaged labels will no longer obstruct their ability to confirm expiration dates or allergens, for example. Language barriers to critical product data would disappear with the help of translation tools. Smart label technology establishes a direct line of communication to the manufacturer regarding product quality, reviews and even low inventory. The end user can also share scans on social media, which further heightens the customer experience.
The value added by smart labels is two-fold, and it compounds, making it a powerful technology for everyone involved.
Scott Fletcher is president and CEO of LocatorX, a technology company using nanotechnology to create flexible tracking solutions.
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