Blogthng

Author Andy Perrin
Published

Amazon’s ability to personalize consumer marketing is more powerful than you might realize. Of course there are the prompts on product pages offering items similar to those you’ve browsed and bought. But that’s just the start. The site also uses social info, shopping history and big data to determine if you’ve just had a baby or bought a new car. Once Amazon’s algorithms have determined your latest life change—big or small—the company’s powerful marketing levers will adjust and suggest a diaper bag or an upholstery cleaner that would be “just right” for you.

That level of customized messaging may seem wonderfully helpful—unless you’re a company competing with Amazon. Even if your products are sold on the site, a massive amount of data is collected about your customers and never passed on. Brands trying to develop a nuanced marketing program need to be smart about reaching customers. With QR codes poised to enter the mainstream, brands have a new opportunity to establish more direct customer relationships and access previously uncovered consumer data and insights. But if they don’t go about it the right way, they’ll run the risk of giving up control of their data, their customers and their products.

 

Mobile OS and Social Platforms Bring QR Codes into the Mainstream

As WIRED recently (and correctly) observed, QR codes were “just ahead of their time.” US consumer engagement with codes has been on a steady increase over the last four years, and millennials have proven to be particularly taken with scanning codes to share information. This behavioral trend is now set to skyrocket thanks to new, seismic shifts in the industry: mobile operating systems adding native QR code readers and the rise of codes on social platforms.

This month, Apple’s new iOS 11 will be available to more than one billion devices, which brings a native QR code reader to the Camera app—making it easier than ever for consumers to scan codes. Meanwhile, we’re seeing more and more codes on social platforms. Snapchat, Spotify and Facebook have all begun to utilize a customized QR code—sometimes called a “social code”—to help users connect with one another and pass content between friends.

These social codes bring the exciting potential for brands to connect with consumers. Reebok, for example, created customized exercise playlists that live on Spotify and can be shared with a code. And to celebrate the launch of the “Gilmore Girls” reboot, Netflix printed Snap codes on 10,000 coffee cups, resulting in nearly a million views on “Gilmore Girls”-inspired photo filters.

The advantage of using social codes is that they link to content within the platform, creating a cohesive user experience. Unfortunately, this upside is overshadowed by the many downsides. Like selling on Amazon, brands that use codes created by Snapchat, Facebook and Spotify are denied a direct connection to their customers. The majority of the user data that’s generated is owned by the networks, not the brands, which they can then re-purpose for their own benefit.

Just as important, social codes require that companies give up control of the user experience, diluting their own brands in the process. Each social platform also has its individual rules to follow and walled gardens to hurdle, and with multiple platform-specific initiatives, it’s incredibly difficult for brands to execute an always-on activation for their products. Finally, social codes do not connect to deeper information about the product from the brand’s manufacturing and distribution phases, meaning that brands miss out on significant opportunities such as showcasing provenance and or sustainability credentials of an item.

 

Smart Product Technology Lets Brands Take Back Their Customer Relationships

As brands look to wrestle back ownership of their customer relationships from Amazon and social platforms, it’s clear that they must take ownership of the codes themselves. Emerging smart product technology shows the path forward. By using a single, platform-agnostic QR code across their products, packaging and marketing campaigns, brands can reclaim ownership of their greatest asset—their products—as well as the customer experience and the associated data generated by consumers. Placing these QR codes on products—and connecting them to a cloud platform—allows brands to turn their physical goods into owned media channels that establish direct connections with their customers. In addition to breaking brands free from disintermediation, these smart products also allow brands to unlock new data sets that open up valuable opportunities across the product lifecycle such as supply chain visibility.

Today, direct customer relationships are no longer a “nice to have,” they’re essential for survival. Products serve as consumer goods brands’ best chance at establishing one-to-one connections with the customers—but only if they also own the data. Using their own codes on their products for consumers to scan, brands can reclaim their customers, build brand loyalty and unlock a wealth of consumer insights in order to fuel future marketing, innovation and business value.

In the modern digital age, data is power. It’s time for brands to take that power back.

Check out our tutorial on how you can use iOS native scanning capabilities to increase customer engagement with your products.

Author Alexander Kintner (SVP of Enterprise Sales)
Published

Anyone who’s ever created a marketing campaign with in-store displays knows that designing and placing branded units can be costly, and it’s imperative that every step of the process goes as smoothly as possible. But according to some estimates, between 40 and 80 percent of in-store displays are never activated, resulting in a huge potential loss of revenue.

One of the big reasons many displays are never set up is the old school method used to verify that they’re in place. After delivery, in-market salespeople are required to prove that the store displays have arrived in good shape at the right place and have been properly set up. Most companies ask a rep to take a picture and email it to an admin in the chain, who will then check off a box in a spreadsheet. To put it nicely, this antiquated process is ready for disruption.

The enabler for reinventing in-store displays is smart product and packaging technology. By printing displays with digital triggers (e.g. QR codes), and then connecting each code to a unique digital identity in a cloud-based platform, it’s now possible to track the entire process in real-time, from shipment from the manufacturer to in-store setup and consumer engagement. Not only does this streamline the monitoring process, but it also enables an in-store marketing program that can better increase consumer engagement, generate data and drive sales.

As consumer engagement with QR codes grows—driven by social networks and mobile operating systems—shopper marketing will forever change. The rise in usage brings many potential benefits for brands using connected in-store branded displays, while new technology makes it possible for QR codes in an in-store display campaign—and the associated data—to be viewable in a single real-time dashboard that reports when a display is set up and taken down.

The benefits extend to consumer engagement, as well. When installation on the retail floor is complete, consumers can scan a QR code on the front of a display to unlock special offers, coupons, video, augmented reality experiences and more. Take a look at those marketers who have used QR codes to make a strong impression, and you’ll see how your company can inspire interactions. During the holidays, JC Penney used a QR code to send gift receivers a personalized message from the givers, and Verizon organized giveaways with in-store displays that encouraged shoppers to scan a QR code and share a company ad on Facebook in hopes of winning a new phone, resulting in a $35,000 increase in sales from a $1,000 investment.

Of course, those interactions do more than just connect a consumer with more information or give away new phones. They can also provide a marketing team with important customer data like email, location and buying history. Consumer engagement with QR codes can also help gauge the effectiveness of in-store displays and whether they needs to be repositioned.

Furthermore, with our partners Screenly and Ubuntu we are also able to offer a turn-key solution including the management and deployment of in-store display. As shown at MWC this even allows customers to drive interactive experiences (e.g., checking the stock availability of an apparel item, offering advice on the product, etc.) on in-store displays by scanning QR or NFC codes on products, directly from the Web, without the need to install any app!

As McKinsey notes in a recently launched study, “Winning in consumer packaged goods through data and analytics,” the companies that are connecting better with customers are doing two important things: “analyzing shopper attributes” and “generating more granular shopper insights.” The right in-store marketing program can help do both.

In particular, consumer packaged goods companies taking the lead are getting and analyzing information not only at a national level, but also regional, city, customer and store level. A QR code connected to a digital identity can easily be programmed to align with a specific store, and as a result, a lot of other relevant data can also be tracked for customers who interact with it. Companies that want to be assured a good amount of data can also put trackable QR codes on individual products that, once activated, will yield more in-depth consumer knowledge.

Organizing an in-store display campaign might have once seemed like throwing a penny into a fountain, hoping for a sale increase. Today’s technology makes it possible to track the effectiveness of in-store displays with a turn-key solution that can drive interactive consumer experiences, follow the timing of the campaign, measure interactions with the display and calculate resulting sales increases.

Author Dominique Guinard (Co-founder and CTO)
Contributing Author Joël Vogt (Research Engineer)
Published

After integrating with Sigfox and Things Connected we are now delighted to announce our partnership with The Things Network (TTN), the blazingly fast-growing, community-driven LPWAN provider. Just like Things Connected and Sigfox, The Things Network offers low-power connectivity for devices. As of today, users of The Things Network can seamlessly manage their devices in the EVRYTHNG cloud platform.

Where does LPWAN fit in?
You might wonder: why haven’t we seen more Internet of Things (IoT) initiatives to monitor our environment or supply chains? Key to building IoT applications is easy access to wireless network connectivity. In the smart home, protocols such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are readily available, but for other deployments such as those in rural areas or along the supply chain, you cannot easily rely on a WiFi or Bluetooth network. And even if you could, the power consumption of such protocols might be a no-go for devices needing to run for months or years on a single battery.

All of this is rapidly changing thanks to Low Power Wide Area Networks (LPWAN) such as Sigfox, NB-IOT and LoRa. Within this LPWAN space, a quiet revolution is taking place to democratize LPWAN connectivity and unleash a wave of citizen-driven IoT innovations.

While LPWAN technologies are a good fit for monitoring our environment or pallets and containers along the supply chain, it is also worth noting that LPWAN technologies are also increasingly being used to deploy devices in smart homes and buildings, replacing for instance SIM card-based (3G) smart meters. While they do not support data intensive applications, their advantage over technologies such as WiFi or Bluetooth is that they require no configuration: just drop the device, start it, and it connects to the nearest LPWAN gateway!

The Things Network and its thousands of crowd-sourced gateways worldwide.

About The Things Network
The Things Network is a community-based, global initiative to provide free LPWAN coverage over LoRa. As of July 2017, The Things Network already spans 20,947 communities in 89 countries, with thousands of gateways providing LPWAN access across the world. LoRaWAN coverage is entirely crowdsourced. Members also contribute by providing support or through software development.

We are thrilled that EVRYTHNG is now an official partner of The Things Network. Being at the forefront of the IoT community and technology, we already installed our first The Things Network LoRa gateway in our London office, and our New York office is next!

The Things Network gateway alive and kicking in the EVRYTHNG London office.

We have developed a dedicated service to seamlessly integrate a device connected to The Things Network to the EVRYTHNG cloud, meaning that you can now also power the identity, intelligence and analytics of your TTN devices via the EVRYTHNG IoT Smart Products Platform.

The Things Network gateway gets a digital identity and web API on the EVRYTHNG platform.

Getting Started
If you already have an account with The Things Network, we encourage you to give our integration a try (through our free tier) for your next prototypes. You’ll find a short technical how-to at https://developers.evrythng.com/docs/the-things-network.

Thanks to its increasing coverage, we are seeing more and more commercial applications now using The Thing Network. Please get in touch with us to see how this technology could help your next smart supply chain or smart home project.

Author Niall Murphy
Published

The rise of Internet of Things technology presents a new opportunity for consumer product manufacturers to digitally-enable their physical products, making them trackable, interactive and “smart.” All everyday items, from t-shirts to boxes of cereal, can now be web-connected with a unique digital identity stored in the cloud. These smart products have the ability to generate and respond to real-time data throughout their lifecycle, which can be used to drive cost efficiencies, develop better consumer engagement and create new revenue streams.

This digitization of physical products allows for the seamless flow of data across the entire enterprise, breaking down silos and connecting the dots between the disparate stages of the supply chain management and customer relationship management process. All of this real-time data can then be used to improve each phase of a product’s lifecycle.

 

 

In our new eBook, we introduce the concept of the Digital Product Lifecycle and demonstrate how brands are using smart products to create value—from supply traceability, product authenticity and stock optimization to in-store marketing and loyalty programs.

As connectivity transforms consumer goods, smart products and the real-time data they generate will no longer be just a possibility—they’ll be a competitive imperative.

Download The Digital Product Lifecycle eBook to learn more.

Author Iker Larizgoitia Abad
Published

Since its founding, EVRYTHNG has been actively involved in European R&D as a partner in innovative projects under the European research framework program. This has given rise to a number of initiatives, including the Web Thing Model proposal, the basis of the W3C Web of Things work, from EVRYTHNG and the partners of the COMPOSE European Project.

Recently, as part of the Horizon 2020 EU research program, EVRYTHNG and 14 other entities were awarded a grant to explore the use of functional inks and printed NFC tags with sensoring capabilities to create SmartTags. This research project, called TagItSmart, seeks to understand how these tags will revolutionize product lifecycle management in FMCG.

What Is TagItSmart
The TagItSmart project is a collaborative effort among 15 partners from across Europe, all with a strong background in both research and Internet of Things market and applications.

In a nutshell, TagItSmart is a Smart Tags-driven service platform for enabling ecosystems of connected objects, with a focus on a category of goods that seems to escape the tendency toward full individuating at item-level: fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG).

While barcodes identify types of products, they don’t identify individual items. NFC (Near Field Communication) and RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) solutions are gaining traction throughout the value chain, but they are still expensive for FMCG items. Therefore, TagItSmart is looking into the use of dynamic QR codes—which are printed on the product items and that change according to selected environmental parameters (e.g. temperature, humidity, intensity of lights), potentially enhanced with printed NFC tags and sensors.

Using these codes, we are able to create a value model that allows all stakeholders—from factory to recycling, from producer to individual customer—to not only track and trace any item in the process, but also to provide additional information about the item that can be of use for other stakeholders. This includes giving individual feedback to a producer, requesting a new product based on individual taste and alerting retailers and producers that an item is close to its best before date or that it’s being disposed of (in a recycling bin) as it should.

Building an Ecosystem Around SmartTags
The EVRYTHNG IoT Smart Products Platform is being used to pilot different use cases that explore the creation of an ecosystem around these SmartTags and the lifecycle of products. In our participation with TagItSmart, we are anticipating the full effect of all FMCG being individually addressable and enhanced with affordable sensoring tags, and we are interested in building a large ecosystem, spanning a diverse set of sectors and application domains.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is the key enabler in this: the IoT and the circular economy are both about a complete system reinvention, and they are both about smart, informed management of assets. Pioneering companies used circular design well before the digital era, but now with the use of IoT technology, the game changes entirely: it creates the data- and feedback-rich systems that allow circular designs and business models to thrive.

If you want to learn more about the TagItSmart research project, please visit tagitsmart.eu, follow @TagItSmart on Twitter or join the LinkedIn group.

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