Blogthng

Author Ryan McManus (SVP Partnerships)
Published

Photograph of shelves with promotions in a supermarket

Increasing Sales, Compliance and Real-time Data Management with End-to-End Traceability of In-Store Shopper Marketing Displays

The store remains a critical touch point for brands to reach and influence consumers, with 76 percent of all purchase decisions made in-store, and 68 percent of all in-store purchases driven by impulse. This is precisely why brands have found point of sale marketing (POSM) campaigns to be so effective—accounting for sales increases ranging from 121 percent (unplanned displays) to 193 percent (planned displays). However, due to the currently limited visibility into POSM distribution, many brands are leaving money on the table.

While thousands of displays are produced each year, less than 40 percent of global POSM campaigns are compliant, meaning the promotions are not displayed in-store as planned. And for every display not properly set up, brands are wasting money and losing sales.

It doesn’t take much to solve this problem. A new solution is available right now that uses existing technology and doesn’t require any hardware or network infrastructure to be implemented at retail locations or within a brand’s IT infrastructure. It’s as simple as using a smartphone to scan a QR code that’s connected to an IoT cloud platform.

Here’s how it works

Display units (and pallets) are manufactured with QR codes, each associated with their own unique digital identity stored in EVRYTHNG’s data management platform. At each point in its journey, the display’s QR code is scanned with a smartphone to verify its location and status. (The scan takes just a fraction of a second and can be done through either the iOS Camera app or a QR code scanner on the phone.) This simple process allows brands to track and trace the entire lifecycle of a unit—from manufacturing to warehouse receipt, distribution, setup, takedown and recycling—to ensure proper compliance. This end-to-end traceability provides visibility and accountability like never before. Marketers can also associate individual merchandisers or retailers responsible for each display, thereby understanding why campaign deadlines are being missed and being able to trigger compliance actions in real time.  Furthermore, this same approach can be complimented by more sensor-based solutions, as retail infrastructure continues to evolve.

This solution offers additional consumer capabilities as well. The same code on the display unit that enables traceability can also be scanned by the shoppers themselves, powering direct-to-consumer experiences that drive engagement, loyalty and further sales.

Going further, brands can not only connect displays to enable traceability and offer consumer engagement experiences, but they can also tag the individual items in the unit, turning their physical products into digital assets that power these same end-to-end digital product lifecycle applications—making supply chains smarter and customer relationships stronger.

POSM campaigns can be incredibly effective at influencing behavior and driving sales—but only if they’re active. Using readily accessible smart product technology, brands and marketers can implement a simple solution for gaining end-to-end traceability of their in-store displays—decreasing losses, increasing revenue, and generating real-time insights and consumer engagement.

 

Author Dominique Guinard
Published
 
There are very few domains that blockchains and generally distributed ledger technologies (DLT) have left untouched in the past few month. In particular, blockchains have made a lot of noise as potential solutions to a number of trust issues in the IoT and in particular in the supply chain. As a consequence, the Innovation team at EVRYTHNG has been at the forefront of experimenting with IoT and blockchains. For instance we delivered a report and a decision framework for our customers thinking about using blockchains, as well as several PoCs looking at the integration of blockchains with the EVRYTHNG platform.
Today, we are proud to announce that EVRYTHNG is joining the Blockchain Research Institute as a Blockchain Pioneer. This is a great opportunity for use to work alongside a number of big key players such as IBM, Microsoft and SAP as well as pioneering blockchain startups.
Our role within the Blockchain Research Institute is to evaluate decentralized technologies focusing on what they can bring to the Internet of Things. Furthermore, we look at piloting blockchain integrations with our customers to seek improvements in various areas such product provenance and authenticity, smart contracts to reduce inefficiencies in supply chains as well as immutable transactions and improved security for connected devices. However, as we previously discussed, blockchains and DLT also bring their share of significant challenges and hence our role is also to scratch the surface of the blockchain hype and report on what works today and what simply does not.
We thank the Blockchain Research Institute for inviting EVRYTHNG to join the effort and look forward to reporting on our results.

 

Author Andy Hobsbawm (Co-Founder & CMO)
Published

In 2015, 90 percent of consumer products companies lost market share, and 62 percent suffered declining sales, much of it to agile, digitally native companies like Amazon, a company that has long been focused on using data to build personalized experiences and customer loyalty innovations (from Wish Lists to Prime shopping). The imperative for brands to innovate with IoT smart product technologies and access proprietary sources of 1st party data from their owned physical assets to drive greater customer engagement, sales and loyalty couldn’t be more urgent.

The key question raised by a new academic report launched today, “Digital Emotional Intelligence” (DEQ), commissioned by EVRYTHNG and Avery Dennison and led by Dr. Philip Powell from the University of Sheffield, is what role emotion plays in all this? One answer lies in unlocking the power of Personalization which always been at the heart of the value exchange promised by the Web.

Better personalization is essential for emotional brand connection. By understanding our preferences and behaviors – with our permission – brands can deliver things that are uniquely appropriate, relevant and timely because they know us. Research has shown this leads to: “more meaningful consumer attention (Malheiros, 2012), more effective brand recognition/recall (Koster et al., 2015), and a stronger impact on consumer behaviors, leading to higher engagement rates and producing higher sales (Bragge et al., 2013).” In short: the greater the personalization, the greater the emotional connection.

Only a few companies like platform giants Amazon, Netflix, Facebook and Google have successfully used personalized engagement at scale, but now product manufacturers can use a more powerful form of personalization tied to their physical products as a key way to competitively differentiate their brands. Once products can ‘talk’ directly with consumers and brands, the data from these interactions and other connected sensor and physical environments can be analyzed to deliver more personal content, services and experiences, by having a more empathetic understanding and real-time anticipation of a shopper’s emotional response.

Leading brands are already responding to these shifts. The majority of the apparel industry, for instance, has either implemented or is in the process of implementing RFID, while 30 of the largest CPG manufacturers, from Mondelez to Unilever, are enrolled in the Grocery Manufacturer’s Association’s ‘SmartLabel™’ initiative (which EVRYTHNG is also partnered with), and Nike has just launched their ‘smart’ NBA jersey with an NFC chip in every tag.

ALWAYSON# handbags from Rebecca Minkoff

We’re super excited that our smart product partnership with designer Rebecca Minkoff has resulted in the launch this week of a new range of handbags containing digitized smart labels, incentivizing owners to scan it with their phones and unlock exclusive partner experiences, and highly personalized offers, complimentary accessories and style recommendations from Rebecca herself.

The new “Digital Emotional Intelligence” (DEQ) study outlines a framework for building more personalized, ampathetic connections with buyers by orchestrating rich, real-time brand experiences across merged physical and digital channels. Understanding DEQ can help power this new personalization imperative with data collected from smart product interactions, plus connected devices and environments. The data is activated and automated using rules-based software and machine learning in the cloud to trigger emotion responses that drive conversion and influence loyalty.

Thanks to a combination of smart packaging technologies from NFC tags to QR codes and printed electronics, more than 800 billion digitally capable consumer products are expected to ship by 2020. Now iPhones have opened up to natively recognize NFC tags and also QR codes via the camera with no app required – driven by the phenomenal success of QR powering commerce, payment and product engagement at scale in Asia – will make it easier for millions more consumers the ability to digitally interact with physical packaging.

EVRYTHNG’s partnership with Avery Dennison to make it possible for virtually every type of product to be #BornDigital™ at point of manufacture with a uniquely coded smart label paired with a corresponding digital identity in the cloud. Once activated, the personal, emotional connection with consumers enabled by these smart products can lead to impressive business results. Research by EVRYTHNG and reports in the Harvard Business Review have found that smart products have an 85 percent lower cost per engagement and a 152 percent lower cost per lead. A customer experience focused on emotional connection led to a 23.8 percent decrease on attrition rates.

Using Internet of Things and smart product technologies, physical and digital interactions can now be merged into a unified set of connected brand experiences that form more empathetic connections with people as human beings. Brands that use this to connect more emotionally, personally, and contextually with consumers will gain a competitive advantage.

 Download our Digital Emotional Intelligence report to learn more.

Author Dominique Guinard (Co-Founder & CTO)
Published

EVRYTHNG became a GS1 US Solution Partner a few months ago, as we excitedly announced in a blog post at the time.  This news may have made you wonder: Who exactly is GS1 and what does this have to do with the Internet of Things?  We’ll be explaining what this all means in a series of blog posts over the coming weeks.

So first, a bit of background

GS1 is a standards organization that facilitates industry collaboration to help improve supply chain visibility and efficiency through the use of GS1 Standards. It’s the most widely-used supply chain standards system in the world. The organization was launched in 1974, a few years after a disruptive technology appeared on the market: the barcode. GS1’s mission was—and still is—to improve supply chain efficiency and help members grow. Over the years, it has evolved from core barcode standards into a language that supports the identification, capture and sharing of critical business information at every step of the commerce journey.

It’s important to note that  the term “Internet of Things” and many of its foundational ideas came out of joint research between GS1 and the MIT Auto-ID Labs that began in 1999 when researchers were looking for a term to describe the vision of global networks of tagged goods.

Today, GS1 serves more than two million companies in more than 25 sectors (in particular consumer packaged goods, apparel, healthcare and foodservice), across 150 countries and is organized through 112 regional organizations that distribute identifiers and promote product identification standards among their members. GS1 identifiers are scanned more often every day across the globe than the number of searches on Google (5 billion +). The massive worldwide adoption of GS1 standards is why EVRYTHNG’s status as a solution partner matters: It means that businesses using GS1 standards (almost every business selling or producing goods) can now take their products to the next level by connecting them to the web and making them smart.

A primer on GS1 standards

A deep dive into all of the standards GS1 manages would make this blog post rather difficult to digest, so let’s first focus on a number of the most important GS1 Standards. (We’ll dig more deeply in upcoming blogs.)  As shown below, GS1 Standards cover three broad categories: identifying, capturing and sharing.

Figure 1: GS1 System of Standards from identification to capturing and exchanging data along the supply chain.

Identification is the core of GS1’s story. GS1 identifiers can address several things, including locations and services, but most important, they identify products. There are two major categories of GS1 product identifiers: GTIN (Global Trade Item Number) and SGTIN (Serialized Global Trade Item Number). A GTIN identifies a company as well as a type of product, whereas a SGTIN identifies a specific instance of a product. GS1 not only standardizes these identifiers, it also licenses them to businesses. Companies license the exclusive right to use ranges of identifiers from their GS1 regional office so that GS1 IDs are managed uniquely on a worldwide scale.

Next up is capturing. GS1 standardizes the way identifiers are encoded in ‘data carriers’ and captured by readers. These carriers can take many forms, such as a barcode like the EAN (European Article Number) and U.P.C. (Universal Product Code), which appear on most products around the world. EANs and U.P.C.s are both GTINs represented in barcode form. GTINs  and other GS1 identifiers may also be serialized in accordance with GS1 Standards—for finer identification granularity. For instance, the GS1-128 barcode has enough capacity to contain a unique number for an item as well as other information about the product.

Additionally, with the EPC (Electronic Product Code), GS1 also provides a construct to write and read these unique identifiers in RFID tags. The tags communicate their identifiers via (standardized) radio protocols (UHF) and, unlike barcodes, can be read from a distance without line of sight.

Last but not least, GS1 provides a number of standards for sharing data from and about these identifiers encoded in different types of carriers. This is where standards like EPCIS (Electronic Product Code Information Services) help: They define a standardized information format for describing and sharing  events within the supply chain, recording the what, when, where and why of an event. For example, an EPCIS event can record that a pallet is composed of several items and that it was seen at Gate E of a distribution center at a particular time.

Figure 2: The EPICS along the supply chain

GS1’s most recent standard demonstrates its evolving focus on data: GS1 SmartSearch is a standard using semantic web technologies to describe the metadata of products. Concretely this means that it can describe products in a standard way that machines can understand so that, for example, search engines know what a product is and therefore can deliver better search results.

Another good way of grasping the breadth and potential of GS1 Standards is to have a look at its interactive journey page, where you can see the use of standards following a product along the supply chain.

And now that brings us to EVRYTHNG and GS1

If you are familiar with EVRYTHNG, you probably understand that we share the value of GS1’s vision. EVRYTHNG is all about giving products a digital identity on the web and powering applications across the product lifecycle, which include supply chain, direct-to-consumer and connected products solutions.

EVRYTHNG’s position as a GS1 US Solution Partner now means that the millions of companies already using GS1 Standards can now very easily integrate their products into the EVRYTHNG platform and give their products life on the web at massive scale, enabling new value creation across the product lifecycle. We’ll detail this in a number of follow-up posts, but here is an overview of where we support GS1 Standards:

Figure 3: Support for GS1 standards in the EVRYTHNG platform

Identification standards: While we generate item-level and unique IDs for products, we are not fussed about our customers using our IDs. What we really want is for all “thngs” to have unique IDs, regardless of who generated them, because this helps unlock their digital value. Thngs, Products and Collections can be addressed using any identifier, including GS1 GTINs.

Capture standards: EVRYTHNG is carrier agnostic and supports 1D barcodes (e.g. EAN, UPC, GS1-128), 2D barcodes (QR, GS1 DataMatrix), NFC tags and UHF RFID tags (e.g., EPC Gen2). We support these formats through our platform but also through our SDKs such as SCANTHNG.

Sharing standards: EVRYTHNG supports EPCIS through our Action Types mechanism. This enables the ability to capture events from and about products using the EPCIS vocabulary and the structure of EPCIS events, allowing for better data interoperability. We also support the new GS1 SmartSearch via our custom fields mechanism, allowing the addition of standard metadata to Thngs and Products. The semantic web is an area where our innovation team is developing new tools, so stay tuned for better support of GS1 SmartSearch.

Figure 4: The lifecycle benefits of combining GS1 Standards and EVRYTHNG.

Today, EVRYTHNG is one of the few fully managed Platform-as-a-Service implementations of GS1 Standards. By leveraging this position, we aim to join GS1 in the push to extend the reach of GS1 Standards far beyond the supply chain. This means that while brands and businesses can keep using the standards they worked hard to put in place, they can also benefit from the innovation EVRYTHNG offers and work to future-proof their smart products efforts. GS1+EVRYTHNG means that products not only get an identifier that can be used for supply chain tracking, they also get a standard web-enabled identity that can be used to serve many applications—from inventory tracking and product authenticity, to mobile payments and direct-to-consumer marketing applications. Thanks to EVRYTHNG’s Web of Things framework, products become first-class citizens of the web with a secure web API that can be used to integrate them into any web application, experience or analytics system.

Authors Curt Schacker (SVP, Connected Devices) & Matthew Shorts (VP, Product)
Published

At this point in the evolution of IoT and the smart home, it has become abundantly clear that when it comes to managing our smart devices, we have too many apps—way too many. As any semi-serious enthusiast can tell you, once you start down the smart home path, your smartphone real estate will quickly fill up with discrete apps for managing each of the devices you adopt. While a few of these apps are truly useful, we’ve really lost the forest for the trees (as so often happens with the introduction of new technology). In an effort to provide convenience and utility, we are achieving quite the opposite by inundating consumers with an avalanche of bewildering apps that have left many feeling cold toward the smart home. So, with the exception of a few apps that have added value to our daily lives, our new mantra is, there’s NO app for that.

To appreciate the practical applicability of this, we need to parse the smart device landscape. Devices fall into one of two categories: those that sense and those that actuate. Sensing devices detect things like motion in your home, the state of physical things such as doors and windows and the presence of environmental conditions such as water, smoke or mold. Actuating devices perform a function: lock a door, sound an alarm, close a valve. (For completeness, some devices combine both capabilities, e.g. a motion sensor with a built-in alarm.)

If the point of having a smart home is convenience, efficiency, safety and well being, then it’s a pretty quick conclusion that the propensity of devices will lean heavily toward sensors rather than actuators. Sensors monitor our complex environment and tell us when something’s not as it should be. As such, most of the time, they have absolutely nothing to report—there’s value in not hearing from them. We predict that of the dozens—and maybe eventually hundreds—of devices in one’s home, 90 percent will be sensors, for which a mobile app is likely overkill. It’s fine to get a simple text message that you left your garage door open; you don’t need three years of analytics on what time you opened and closed it every day.

Actuating devices are another matter. If you’re initiating an action like unlocking your door or turning on your lights, then presumably you need an app of some sort. Of course, emerging voice services like Alexa and Google Home are going after the same problem. That said, it’s hard to escape the feeling that even voice is a stopgap for many situations. Shouldn’t a truly smart home anticipate your desires and carry them out automatically, thereby further weaning you from your phone? For example, many of us now manage our home’s environment with smart thermostats that learn our preferences and set them automatically with no additional direct input.

If we could synthesize this perspective into some advice for product manufacturers, it would be this: Remember that, as cool and useful as your device or app may be, it doesn’t exist in a silo. It is, in fact, part of a system of devices called the smart home. If that system is unusable, then your product will suffer commensurately; if a rising tide floats all boats, then an ebbing one has the opposite effect. So for your next product, start by considering how your device fits into your customer’s overall smart home and how much value your device can deliver sans mobile app. Or perhaps make the app an opt-in for a higher grade of features. Sometimes, less really is more.

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