The benefits of product digitization and traceability


by Christine C. Akselsen

Mature warehouse worker using touchpad and scanning cardboard boxes at storage compartment.

Building more resilient supply chains and consumer engagement with end-to-end product traceability data.

By digitizing products at the point of manufacture, where the upstream meets downstream, companies can collect and assemble critical and useful data for building and maintaining sustainable supply chains. In my recent article on building sustainable supply chains through product traceability, a number of benefits of product digitization and traceability probably became clear. One of the most valuable benefits is data

This data – from the point of product manufacturing through the entire supply chain all the way to when it reaches the hands of end consumers can, for instance, be used to:

  • Understand and make projections about supply chain operations and potential issues for improved efficiency, reduced costs, and intelligent insight into more effective ways to respond to disruption and change.
  • Calculate the carbon footprint of the manufactured product. 
  • Generate data through product tracking and tracing that can help companies reduce waste in their supply chains. For example, enabling brands to do targeted recalls, instead of blindly recalling an entire batch, which is a matter not just of waste reduction but also of better product food safety. Why not recall only the products on the jeopardized pallet or container? By extension, efficiency and trust are gained by being able to inform the end consumer about the recall directly through the product with an on-package QR code.
  • Educate consumers using digitized products, which can inform and incentivize on different levels. Consumer engagement and connected products can deliver a wide range of benefits, from recycling information and encouragement for circular-economy initiatives to providing raw materials provenance and authenticity guarantees, to generating consumer loyalty. Digitizing makes it possible to provide more information on the package itself than there is room for. Likewise, this engagement also provides an opportunity for companies to use digitized products to collect user data for a better understanding of consumer demand, habits, and preferences and feed that back into better product development and distribution. 

This isn’t, of course, a complete accounting of what traceability data offers but begins to reveal the potential for not just more robust and transparent supply chains but also for sustainability itself – in terms of supply chains and in the broader environmental and ecological sense. 

Learn more about full end-to-end traceability, download our FRISO case study below:

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