The global COVID-19 pandemic has turned lives, businesses & industries upside down, but it has also highlighted the power that can be unleashed by a truly connected and digital world through the use of technology.
Now, a Hirt & Carter Digital Solutions and EVRYTHNG partnership enters this space with unique technology to bring consumer goods into the connected world.
With EVRYTHNG’s industry-leading Product Cloud™ powering our Smartcodes™ every product can now be #BornDigital™; transformed from a static object into a data-gathering, consumer-facing platform whose applications are limited only by imagination.
Our solution enters the market as companies grapple with an accelerated digital adoption journey to respond to a pandemic that has reshaped how we work, live, learn and shop. What might have changed slowly over a decade has now occurred over only a year.
As leading South African trend analyst, Deon Chang, reflects on the pace of technology changes during 2020 in his most recent Flux Trends report, (https://www.fluxtrends.com/trend-release-the-state-were-in-6-trend-pillars-for-2021/) “objects in the mirror are closer than they appear”.
Indeed, they are, as the World Economic Forum’s State of the Connected World December 2020 report (https://www.weforum.org/connectedworld/report) underscores, honing in on how the Internet of Things (IoT) has come of age amid the virus crisis. “COVID-19 has highlighted the essential role the internet of things (IoT) has come to play in our lives,” the authors observe. They point to how connected thermal cameras, contact tracing devices and health-monitoring wearables are providing critical data and how temperature sensors and parcel tracking will ensure the awaited vaccines are distributed safely.
As those technologies provide new weapons to fight the virus, so too does the Smartcode™ offer innovative solutions for manufacturers responding to lightning-fast changes in consumer habits and expectations.
Smartcode™ provides unique and dynamic consumer engagement opportunities, supply chain traceability, product authentication and the ability to deliver on any sustainability agenda.
Simply explained, Smartcode™ is powered by EVRYTHNG’s Active Digital Identity, which is aligned to global GS1 Digital Link standards (which EVRYTHNG also assisted in drafting).
It is represented on packaging by a QR code, RFD tag or other on-pack identifiers, which then triggers content or data collection when scanned by a smart device whether it be a scanner or a mobile phone.
But this is no static code. The power behind the Smartcode™ is its contextual awareness.
It can, for example, provide an engaging experience if scanned by a consumer in a store. That experience can be tailored to geography, season, time of day or a range of other contexts.
Scanned in a logistics context, the Smartcode™ can provide data and signals of value to tracking the product’s journey or provenance.
The range of applications opens opportunities for powerful new consumer campaigns by brands, whether it be building direct-to-consumer executions or gathering more robust, useful and actionable data about their consumers’ interactions with their products.
Chang, for example, cites in his outlook for 2021, the Financial Times’ observation that “many companies have little choice but to begin some revamping of their business models: the pandemic has made sure that either their customers are no longer where they were or have no need of what they are selling”.
Other data powerfully reinforces this. As BusinessLIVE (https://www.businesslive.co.za/redzone/news-insights/2020-12-10-online-shopping-the-delivery-conundrum/) reported “for FMCG brands, a complete rethink of digital marketing strategies is now a must”.
The article cites the Nielsen New Shopper Normal study of December 2020, which said that the percentage of South Africans who now shop online had risen by 300% during the pandemic.
These powerful trends, which are predicted to continue and indeed strengthen into the future, underline the need for brands to rapidly unlock new opportunities to speak to consumers when visits to brick-and-mortar stores can no longer be primarily relied upon.
Chang points to “closing the green gap” as a strong trend in retail in the coming year. “Sustainability is no longer just a consumer issue and becomes the responsibility of retailers and manufacturers as every link of the supply chain is scrutinised.”
The Smartcode™ is uniquely positioned to help close the “green gap” with documented executions already in the market and powered by EVRYTHNG.
For example, retailer Carrefour in Spain launched an app powered by EVRYTHNG which helps its consumers identify what and how to recycle goods and also rewards them for recycling.
EVRYTHNG’s unique digital identity allowed items to be tracked and validated through the “circular economy” of the campaign.
Hirt & Carter Digital Solutions believes the smart pack is the platform of the future – which has now arrived.