The inability to track goods as they move through the supply chain is a problem for many enterprises. In a survey by EY, only 6% of supply chain executives expressed high confidence in their companies’ systems and capabilities for end-to-end supply chain visibility.

At the same time, businesses are struggling to gain granular insights into consumer behaviour. KPMG and Forrester Consulting found that consumer and retail companies have difficulty tracking and sharing “customer interactions across multiple channels and countries.” However, such insights are crucial, especially with more consumers expecting brands to create messages and offers that are personalised to their interests.

One way to address these problems is by adopting product identity solutions.

How product identity works

To create a digital identity for a product, a physical unique identity tag is embedded either into the item itself or its packaging. This tag is connected to a digital asset that is encoded in a database or blockchain.

Physical unique identity tags come in various forms, including:

  • Quick Response (QR) Code
  • Barcode Tag
  • Near-Field Communication (NFC) Tag
  • Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) Tag

Let’s take a bag of coffee beans as an example. A warehouse manager might scan the QR code on the bag to gain access to a blockchain ledger, which automatically records the scan. The manufacturer will then be able to see when and where the tag was scanned.

Once that bag reaches the retailer’s shelves, a consumer can use their own smartphone to scan the same QR code. Scanning the code can launch a website or app explaining how the beans have been ethically and sustainably sourced.

These tags enable manufacturers to track their products at every step of the supply chain. They also enable brands to gather consumer insights based on how buyers interact with their products.

Gaining visibility into the supply chain through product identity

Companies recognise the benefits that end-to-end supply-chain visibility can bring. With a product identity platform, they could:

  • identify where bottlenecks and damages take place,
  • predict and reduce the likelihood of future delays,
  • identify how stock-flow to unauthorised channels,
  • stock level or movement across distribution channels,
  • improve alignment between demand and supply,
  • and improve regulatory compliance.

Each of these capabilities helps a company reduce risks and costs. Product identity tags are important for business planning, and help strengthen relationships between supply-chain partners.

When these solutions are connected to the blockchain, they become even more valuable: records stored on a blockchain are inherently tamper-proof and confidential.

As product identity solutions gather enough data, they will be able to identify trends in goods movements. Over time, they’ll be able to quickly pinpoint specific scenarios and factors that lead to bottlenecks and delays.

In the past, manufacturers would lose visibility of their products once they left the warehouse—they’d have to depend on distributors and store owners for additional data such as the number of units sold. But with these tags, they can now track their goods at retail stores and even past points of sales.

That means manufacturers will be able to get a better view of the demand for each product in different locations. Through analysis of the historical data, they’ll gain insights on consumer appetite for their products and align their supply accordingly. Not only does this prevent over-stocking—by identifying the weakest products, manufacturers can improve or even reduce poorly performing product lines to adapt to fluctuating demand.

How brands can glean consumer insights through product identity

The digitalisation of products provides companies with granular consumer insights. It also gives manufacturers a new channel for sharing information about product deals or new launches.

For example, a product identity platform can enhance manufacturers’ understanding and gather insights of their consumers in the following ways:

Who scanned what products, and where

Which consumers scanned what products at a certain store? Which items were scanned, but not purchased? By learning the answers to these questions, brands can understand which of their products are more popular in certain locations, or among certain demographics. They can then adjust their supply and promotional campaigns to suit demand in each area, targeting different audience segments.

How promotions and product information affect sales

Manufacturers can learn how promotions and product information affect product scans and sales. For example, adding provenance information might improve sales for certain types of products or groups of consumers.

Armed with such insights, brands can identify their most effective marketing strategies and use this knowledge to launch campaigns that bring in new customers.

Why consumers scanned the product

What does the consumer do after they scan the product and see the webpage or app that’s launched on their phone? Some might try to learn more about the item’s ingredients or provenance, while others might look for proof of authenticity.

How extended digitalised customer services play an impact on customer loyalty

Product identity platforms can also help brands improve customer loyalty. For example, a product identity solution created by i-Sprint for a global automotive and industrial supplier allows consumers to log in to the platform for authentication and warranty registration. It also allows consumers to claim their rewards through the platform.

Ease in warranty management through digitalised platform, automatic reward system by scanning unique identity code encourages continuous patronisation from customers.

Optimising consumer insights through profiles

Enabling customer profiles on the product identity platform can lead to even more valuable data.

For example, consumers within the same age group or with the same lifestyle preferences might exhibit the same product preferences. (Note that insights like these will depend on what data you ask consumers to share on their profiles).

Consumer profiles can also enable marketers to send more targeted marketing messages and promotions based on the consumer’s past purchases, scan history, and demographics.

Product identity for valuable insights

From the factory floor to the consumers’ hands, product identity solutions provide companies with valuable, granular information on not just their goods, but their customers too.

On the supply chain side, these solutions improve traceability and supply-demand alignment, among many other benefits.

On the marketing end, product identity solutions provide a closer look into individual consumer behaviour, as well as wider consumer trends—all while in compliance with privacy laws and regulations. And by analysing this data, marketers can tailor their campaigns and messages to specific consumer segments for more effective results.

Contact i-Sprint Innovations to find out more about our product identity solution.