Three Ways Labels Are Getting Smarter: Technology That Goes Beyond The Barcode


Just as our gadgets and apps are making it easier for us to communicate with each other, they also make it easier to talk to our homes, vehicles, the products we buy — and the brands who produce them. And that’s a good thing. Specifically, the connection of things to the Internet is creating the opportunity for consumers to engage in a new kind of conversation with brands that could result in more transparent commerce. Labels have always conveyed important information like barcodes or instructions to refrigerate after opening. Now advances in technology are increasing a label’s capacity by making it a portal to a wealth of information – downloadable product details, ingredient information, coupons and promotional offers, recipes, tutorials, service manuals, health and safety information, videos and more. These advances are also enabling retail brands to more efficiently track items through their supply chains and take inventory much more rapidly and accurately. They also provide proof of authenticity and increase transparency. The addition of intelligence and interactivity to packaged goods promises to change retailing and package design more dramatically in the next five years than it has in the past quarter-century.

Radiofrequency Identification (RFID)

RFID technology is enabling retail clothing brands to manage inventories and supply chains much more accurately and efficiently than barcodes. Knowing precisely what’s on hand and what’s been sold allows retailers to replenish their shelves much faster and ensure that items are in stock and available. Shoppers are more satisfied as they can find items in the size and colour they’re looking for, and retailers are better able to manage costs and increase sales. RFID tagging began with clothing, but as retailers have seen the benefits, they are moving to tag other items, including jewellery, cookware, food and cosmetics. In fact, some retailers have announced they plan to tag nearly every item in their stores.

Quick Response (QR) Codes

You can scan a QR code with your smartphone to access product information and receive promotional offers via an app. This technology is now being taken further by introducing a labelling product with a QR code printed on paper with unique fibre patterns. Combined, this label has a unique “fingerprint” that verifies a product’s authenticity, which is intended to curb counterfeiting of high-end goods.

Near Field Communication (NFC)

NFC-equipped labels take the concept of interactive packaging a step beyond the QR code. With an NFC-equipped smartphone, you can receive package information, coupons, videos and other digital media simply by tapping the smartphone to the package. All without an app. NFC-equipped labels allow for longer interaction and richer engagement between you and your favourite brands. So labels and labelling have come a long way and will continue to evolve and improve the customer experience and interaction with brands in-store over time. Producers, distributors and retailers all benefit from these developing technologies also. For help with your labels and to see what’s best for your brand, contact Label Tech on 01-842 1700

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