Reflections on NRF’s 2020 Vision: Finding Experience in the Data

Reflections on NRF’s 2020 Vision: Finding Experience in the Data

We’re officially a month into 2020 and the new decade is well underway.

 

NRF 2020 at Javits Center in New York last month provided a double-espresso-in-the-morning style kick-off for the new year. So much so, it is worth reflecting back as it jolted our eyes open and set the stage for what’s to come.

 

To sum it up in a word, data.  Data, data everywhere – how to get it, how to use it, how to see it. Everywhere you looked there were analytics dashboards. But after that first upfront jolt, NRF – appropriately named 2020 Vision this year – fed us a more subtle flavor. Specifically, highlighting the need for winning brands and retailers to crack the code on data-driven consumer experiences.

 

According to the US Census Bureau, brick-and-mortar still accounted for nearly 90 percent of all retail sales in the third quarter of 2019 in the US. Yet, at the same time, all the growth is happening in eCommerce. It is no surprise therefore that Javits Center was all a buzz about the merging of digital and physical.

 

To this end, NRF provided a view of new interfaces, like ‘headless commerce’ where IoT-powered devices such as Alexa allow consumers to make purchases via voice. Similarly, product digitization demonstrated how ‘phygital’ can scale to accommodate the delivery of direct-to-consumer (DTC) experiences pre- and post-purchase through products themselves. PUMA’s Russ Kahn brought this last point to life during a chat we did together on stage. Russ explained how consumers in PUMA’s flagship NYC store are accessing digital experiences as part of the physical store experience but even more interesting, he confirmed PUMA is also reaching consumers post-purchase with DTC experiences through their products. Russ reported some 30% of digitally engaged consumers transact post-purchase creating a powerful new channel for PUMA.

 

In the opening keynote at NRF, Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella shared retail generates 40 terabytes of data per hour. He then posed a very important question to the retailers in the audience, “what will we do with that data?” On this same day, we announced EVRYTHNG’s partnership with Wiliot. I share this because Wiliot’s cutting-edge battery-less Bluetooth tags combined with EVRYTHNG Active Digital Identities™ in the Product Cloud demonstrates the possibilities — how brands and retailers can generate ever-richer real-time data and more powerful dynamic experiences for consumers through their products.

 

Product digitization, AI and connected packaging are no longer ideas being piloted on a few unique product items in select target markets. Connected packaging is becoming the norm as brands strive to meet consumer demand for authenticity, transparency and personalized experiences. Through the digitization of products at scale and the use of AI and machine learning, brands and retailers not only have a powerful competitive weapon to build direct-to-consumer relationships but, also gain access to unprecedented amounts of data. To lead in 2020, brands need to use this data to reinvent business models.

 

The press breakfast at NRF proved to be a fascinating ad hoc debate of the driving forces shaping brand and retailer responses in 2020 and beyond. Fernbrook Capital’s Marigay McKee called attention to the rising importance of transparency to nurture and retain Millennial and GenX consumer relationships, postulating that ‘phygital’ is the macro transformation that will help meet this need, as well as provide the much-needed platform for brands to scale DTC experiences. It was great to be able to point to Ralph Lauren’s announcement in November when the company shared it would be digitizing its entire product portfolio – end-to-end – with EVRYTHNG. Ralph Lauren’s announcement demonstrates how brand owners can use product digitization to create the operational agility necessary to operate in an omnichannel world, provide consumers with rich, personalized and dynamic digital experiences, and achieve visibility across the full product lifecycle. Related to visibility in the supply chain, the theme of sustainability and transparency in the supply chain was also high on the NRF radar including, a panel session I participated in chaired by Marigay McKee. Coincidentally, in January at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in Davos, we also announced our participation in the launch of a global initiative that provides an open blockchain-based platform for supply chain transparency to help businesses across industries respond to consumer demands for ethical and environmentally friendly products.

 

In characteristic fashion, coming back to the theme of consumer experience, at the NRF press breakfast Triangle Capital’s Richard Kestenbaum eloquently reminded us of the importance of store personnel as being the most powerful asset to influence shopper behavior. He challenged retailers and brands alike to think about how digital empowerment could help make these folks even more effective.

 

As a bit of a futurist, I like to look for the inevitabilities in the possibilities of the future that conferences like NRF parade before us. What we saw this year I believe is the maturing of data-driven retail through all channels – physical, online, mobile and through products. Also, the realization that making these experiences effective requires both new operational capabilities, and an ability to design convenient, authentic, personalized on-demand experiences using the massive amount of data now available to brands and retailers. Brands and retailers who embrace this data will win — providing consumers with the transparency, authenticity and personalized experience that they crave.

 

Looking forward to an exciting year ahead!

 

 

About the Author
Niall Murphy is CEO and co-founder of EVRYTHNG, the Product Cloud providing digital identities for the world’s consumer products. A computer scientist by training, Niall is a technologist, serial entrepreneur and angel investor with 25 years of experience innovation and future thinking. He has built pioneering businesses in Internet infrastructure, the mobile Internet and web services in Europe, the US and Africa. Niall is a contributor to the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on Advanced Manufacturing and Production and a frequent speaker at venues around the world, including TED.

 

Press Contacts:
Susan Baldwin

EVRYTHNG
susan.baldwin@evrythng.com
+1 (509)939-1137

It’s real: Data-Driven Product Authenticity™ with Machine Learning

It’s real: Data-Driven Product Authenticity™ with Machine Learning

One of our big goals at EVRYTHNG is to change the way supply chain integrity and product authenticity issues are tackled. Issues like counterfeit products, gray market imports and the production of  backdoor goods. Today most of these challenges are resolved using ‘material science’ techniques: putting ‘hard to copy’ tags on products. For example, tags with patterns that decay when copied or encrypted RFID or NFC tags.  While these tags are valid mechanisms to distinguish counterfeit products from genuine products or detect fraud in supply chains — they also present several disadvantages: 

 

  • These product tagging techniques are significantly more complex than simple QR codes;
  • They often require the use of proprietary tags or printing techniques which equates to vendor lock-in;
  • Consumers need special applications to interact with the tags; and
  • All of these factors together have an impact on cost, scale and usability making these techniques completely impractical for industries like, consumer product goods 

Our approach is to resolve these problems through the new currency: data

 

Data-driven Product Authenticity™ 

The principles of Data-driven Product Authenticity™ are simple: serialize your products using Digital Link QR codes or low-cost NFC tags and gather as much data as you can throughout the product’s supply chain journey and into the hands of the consumer. Supply chain integrity decisions can then be made based on real-time data intelligence. The highest level of integrity is achieved by combining data-driven techniques with material science techniques. In the past however, cost has been an issue in taking this approach.

 

The EVRYTHNG platform until now has delivered Data-driven Product Authenticity™ through either our Reactor  business rules engine or Factory Activation (authenticating products at source)

 

We are excited to announce however, we’ve pushed the boundaries, breaking through previous limitations to cost-effectively add machine learning to our Data-driven Product Authenticity™ offering.   Welcome to Predictor™, our new machine learning engine

 

Read on to get the details…

Why Machine Learning?

If we already have an effective tool for data-driven authenticity, you may be asking — why invest in machine learning? What additional value can it bring to companies in the consumer products industry?

 

Achieving better supply chain integrity begins with the mass-scale serialization of your products on the EVRYTHNG platform. Several intelligence engines are then configured:

 

  • Redirector  – this component uses contextual inputs, geo-location, user’s profile, time, date, etc. to dynamically determine what URL the QR code or NFC tag redirects to after a product scan. This is a very powerful tool, perfect for creating application workflows for expected interactions or usages.  
  • Reactor  – is a Javascript-based rules engine for creating bespoke business logic.  For example, in the case of a product recall due to a safety issue with product packaging, Reactor™ can automatically determine whether a unique item was part of a faulty batch by analyzing the product hierarchy to see component parts and production data. 

Given the number of parameters, rules can become complex. Real world scenarios are difficult to predict and/or react to. The onus is on humans to understand and update workflows as events change.  This is where machine learning comes into play.  

 

  • Predictor  – This is EVRYTHNG’s new machine learning engine. It learns from historical data to predict outcomes and identify anomalies.  With Predictor, the EVRYTHNG platform can adapt on its own, automating the decision-making.   For example, applying the determination; “Based on similar products, with similar metadata, and scan patterns,  this item is likely to be counterfeit.”

 

EVRYTHNG Product Developments 

The possibilities of machine learning are endless. We’ve focused our initial developments on a specific set of use cases where we believe machine learning will play an increasing role. 

 

  1. Counterfeit detection
  2. Gray Market detection 
  3. Spotting data integrity issues with supply chain data
  4. Predicting consumer engagement rates
  5. Dynamically altering brand content and experience delivered to consumers on scanning products

We’re working towards making machine learning easily deployable for our customers, creating off-the-shelf models available via our self-service portal. 

Activating machine learning via the EVRYTHNG dashboard

Think of it like an App Store for machine learning, tailored (initially) for resolving supply chain integrity issues.  It’s all about moving machine learning from the back-office domain of data scientists to become a central component in any connected-product application, accessible and valuable to any business user.    After all, the more products our customers digitize, the more data is generated. The more data generated, the greater the value of machine learning when applied.  

 

virtuous circle, the benefits of which we expect will surprise even us! 

 

Beta Trialists Welcome

We are excited to share we’ve officially implemented an early stage version of Predictor™ and are ready to roll out machine learning pilots in the latter half of 2019. We’re working with several consumer product brands on machine learning initiatives and welcome others. Please reach out directly if you’d like to get involved.  And if you’d like more technical information, check out our developer tutorial and API documentation too.  

 

Thanks for reading!

 

Dom

 

About the authorDom is Co-Founder and CTO of EVRYTHNG.  An IoT expert, he spent more than a decade working on projects for Oracle, the Auto-ID Labs, Nokia and SAP. Currently a faculty researcher for the Blockchain Research Institute, Dom is working on the potential of blockchains for the Internet of Things (IoT). Dom was a Web of Things (WoT) pioneer at ETH Zurich and MIT, and his Ph.D on the WoT was granted the ETH Medal.

EVRYTHNG SmartLabel® DL Unleashes the Full Power of Mass-Scale Product Digitization

EVRYTHNG SmartLabel DL

EVRYTHNG SmartLabel® DL Unleashes the Full Power of Mass-Scale Product Digitization

We’re excited to share that earlier this month, we announced the availability of our new SmartLabel solution—allowing consumer product brands to unleash the full power of mass-scale product digitization with GS1 Digital Link and EVRYTHNG digital identities. More than 826 brands that are either already delivering SmartLabel® compliant transparency—or soon will be—can immediately benefit from EVRYTHNG SmartLabel DL.

Specifically, if you are a consumer goods company, you can now maximize the value of SmartLabel initiatives, connecting on-pack triggers to Active Digital Identities™ in the cloud that are fully compliant with GS1 standards and Digital Link technology.

Why EVRYTHNG SmartLabel DL?

Before diving deeper into the technology, let’s provide some context for why this announcement is so important for brands in today’s complex retail climate:

    • Simplicity & Cost Savings—you can now implement and manage SmartLabel faster, more cost-effectively and with greater ease:
      • Lowest cost of ownership of any SmartLabel program with a predictable, annual flat fee.
      • Hosted SmartLabel landing pages—mobile optimized for the consumer experience while providing a simple and dynamic template for updating product data automatically
    • Direct-to-Consumer Experiences—EVRYTHNG SmartLabel DL brings new functionality not available through other SmartLabel programs, allowing you to connect directly with consumers through dynamic, context-based experiences.
    • Real-Time Data Intelligence—Every consumer interaction with a product generates brand insights and permission-based data intelligence to fuel your marketing initiatives.

Working closely with the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), we recognized a need to make it easier for brand marketing and compliance managers to set up and manage SmartLabel. Manually inputting product information and managing front-end templates can be time consuming and costly, especially with hundreds or thousands of SKUs. EVRYTHNG set a goal to take all that cost and effort away, which is the announcement we are making today.

So with this context, let’s take a deeper dive into the technology.

How Does it Work?

Currently SmartLabel provides consumers a way to digitally access more detailed product information, including ingredients and provenance from 826 brands on more than 36,000 food, beverage, household, pet care and personal care products simply by scanning a QR code on the product’s packaging. But up until now, implementation has not been dynamic, simple or cost-effective.

With EVRYTHNG SmartLabel DL, you can deliver SmartLabel compliance for all of your products at scale, while cost-effectively upgrading the capabilities delivered by the same on-pack code to include real-time product lifecycle traceability and context-based direct-to-consumer experiences.

Specific components of EVRYTHNG SmartLabel DL, include:

  • SmartLabel Product Schema
  • Hosted SmartLabel Landing Pages
  • Dynamic Redirection Service
  • Analytics

SmartLabel Product Schema

So if you are a brand, how do you get product data into the platform?  We created a product schema that contains all the necessary custom fields to surface SmartLabel-compliant product information on each of your SmartLabel landing pages.

For a small list of products, you can use the new EVRYTHNG CLI tool, a simple tool that allows custom product pages to be created on the EVRYTHNG platform by manually entering all the required SmartLabel data fields.

Or for a larger portfolio of products, you can use the EVRYTHNG API, a fast, secure way to automatically upload SmartLabel data from another system.

SmartLabel DL

The above flow shows how the process works. And you can see what an actual landing page looks like through our fictitious brand, Holloway Baking Company.

Hosted SmartLabel Landing Pages

How is SmartLabel information displayed for consumer access? EVRYTHNG hosts dynamic SmartLabel landing pages which are quickly and simply populated with product information stored in a brand’s account on the EVRYTHNG platform. Because the pages are dynamic, information can be updated anytime with speed and ease.

Dynamic Redirection

What kind of experiences or marketing information do consumers receive when they scan a SmartLabel code?

EVRYTHNG has a patented dynamic redirection service so you can deliver context-based consumer experiences. This means each consumer receives targeted, custom information and experiences depending on factors such as time of day, location and even previous brand interactions. For example:

  • Scan the code in store and receive SmartLabel information and a coupon to encourage purchase.
  • Scan the code at home and receive recipes and recommendations for how to use the product and/or suggested future purchases.

All content driven from the same GS1-compliant Digital Link QR code on-pack, using software intelligence in the cloud.

SmartLabel Digital Link

Analytics

Each and every scan creates data for unparalleled consumer insights and gives invaluable first-party data for precision marketing.

For instance, you can access a wealth of real-time analytics, such as product engagement data, to gain visibility into consumer behaviors and patterns. In turn, this information can help inform future product innovation.

Analytics with SmartLabel

The Journey to Full Transparency

GMA predicts that within five years, the SmartLabel initiative will cover 80% of food, beverage, pet care, personal care and household products in the U.S. and Canada. With EVRYTHNG SmartLabel DL, brands can now take SmartLabel initiative investments to a whole new level.

Today, customers demand brands not just provide ingredient information, but full product provenance; where and how a product is made, from which raw materials and its journey through the supply chain into the consumer’s hands. Delivering this depth of traceability requires a platform like EVRYTHNG to connect to supply chain systems, blockchains and other product information systems. To get a glimpse of the possibilities, check out this specific use case with our customer Almond.

In a world where trust is a precious commodity, this level of transparency will fast become table stakes for all consumer product goods.

We’ll be accelerating adoption of our new SmartLabel solution with brands throughout 2019, and have further exciting enhancements planned over the coming months.

You can learn more about EVRYTHNG SmartLabel DL here.

About the Author:

Curt Schacker is Executive Vice President of Business Development at EVRYTHNG. Curt has spent more than 25 years in Silicon Valley, having held positions at Wind River (Intel), Real-Time Innovations and Arrayent. He was the co-founder and CEO of Embedded Solution Partners.

Looking Ahead to a Year of Convergence for the Consumer Products Industry

Smartlabel and EVRYTHNG

Looking Ahead to a Year of Convergence for the Consumer Products Industry

Meeting the divergent needs of GenZ and GenX is challenging the consumer products industry. Responding to the challenge will require a strategy that enables diverse consumer needs to be met on a converged and common product platform. This, we contend, is a defining driving force for 2019 and beyond.

GenZ consumers are making values-based purchasing decisions, demanding transparency from brands. At the same time, GenX and the aging population of retiring Baby Boomers are demanding ever more convenience. Brands that can deliver both transparency and personalized consumer experiences are going to rise to the top.

The good news is that the digital switch-on of the world’s consumer products provides a scalable path to resolve these divergent needs. GS1 Digital Link and EVRYTHNG digital identities has created an unprecedented opportunity to apply data science and intelligence to every product’s journey, and to every product’s experience for the consumer.

The Breakthrough

The breakthrough is in being able to digitize products at mass scale. Brands now have a platform that delivers both:

    • Supply chain visibility and control to provide GenZ consumers with the transparency they seek; and
    • Instrumentation and control of the product journey to deliver personalized omni-channel experiences to GenX consumers.

EVRYTHNG is building out the partner ecosystem required for brands to realize the full potential of the technology. We have set up packaging and supply chain integrations with partners like WestRock, Crown and Avery Dennison to ensure products are produced with digital identities as they are manufactured—trackable across the full product lifecycle and ready to drive consumer experiences.

Several industry developments are also contributing to technology adoption, including:

  • Over 2.5-billion smartphones now capable of automatically interacting with consumer products to access digital services and share data without special apps
  • The rollout of GS1 Digital Link, an upgrade to the global barcode standard, connecting every product to the Web
  • The availability of enabling technologies and consumer activation capabilities

Introducing EVRYTHNG SmartLabel® DL

The newest addition to this ecosystem was introduced last week at ShopTalk 2019. More than 800 consumer product brands have already adopted the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) SmartLabel® methodology to provide consumers with full transparency into the nutritional information and contents of food and beverage products. Now with EVRYTHNG SmartLabel DL brands can do a whole lot more than simply repeat what is printed on the label digitally. EVRYTHNG SmartLabel DL assigns a GS1 Digital Link and EVRYTHNG digital identity to each product so that SmartLabel-compliant information can be delivered with the added bonus of supply chain tracking and rich consumer engagement experiences.

Back in August 2018, EVRYTHNG announced our support for the new GS1 Digital Link standard that upgrades the global barcode standard, adding dynamic intelligence with a web address for every product and making individual products interactive, intelligent and trackable on the Web. GS1 Digital Link works with a QR code or NFC tag on packs or labels, upgrading the traditional 1D barcode used on trillions of products for point of sale with the new ability to support smartphone interaction, supply chain tracking, authentication and many other applications.

For brands already working with GMA’s SmartLabel the integration of SmartLabel with GS1 Digital Link and EVRYTHNG digital identities is huge because now they will be able to maximize the effectiveness of investments they are already making in on-pack digital triggers. Beyond delivering SmartLabel-compliant product information, brands now have the ability to deliver dynamic, direct-to-consumer experiences and capture valuable product lifecycle information all from a single code, whether purchased online or in-store. For brands who have not yet deployed SmartLabel, doing it with EVRYTHNG SmartLabel DL means that they can meet the need to provide transparency to consumers, support rich and dynamic consumer experiences and integrate supply chain traceability—all with one consistent digital trigger on product and with a consistent data management methodology for products in the cloud.

The Brand-Consumer Connection

There is a lot of research that reinforces the value of providing full product information to consumers. Just check out the Atomik Research data shared by GMA, in which 75% of 1,002 shoppers said they would change their buying habits if they were given more environmental impact, safety and usage information about the products they were purchasing. And 71% said they wanted more information about a product beyond the label ingredients, such as what role the ingredients play in the product.

But up until now implementation for brands has not been dynamic, simple or cost-effective. We are working closely with our digital ecosystem partners to change this for brands. Our hope is that EVRYTHNG SmartLabel DL will accelerate adoption of the SmartLabel initiative across the consumer products industry by making it more accessible and scalable for brands. Everyone wins with greater transparency.

EVRYTHNG has supported the Grocery Manufacturer Association (GMA) SmartLabel initiative since 2017. Our development agenda has focused on making SmartLabel more convenient and cost-effective for brands to implement at mass scale, and on helping brands maximize the power of SmartLabel on-pack to create dynamic, context-based direct-to-consumer experiences.

Consumer product brands want to engage with consumers in more innovative and direct ways. The SmartLabel initiative cracked the door open—facilitating consumers’ need for full product information and provenance. EVRYTHNG SmartLabel DL swings the door wide open, amplifying the opportunity for brands to also benefit from real-time data intelligence and full product lifecycle traceability, while turning individual products into owned-media channels. All at the lowest cost of ownership of any SmartLabel program, with a predictable, annual flat fee.

I look forward to sharing exciting developments and updates in the months ahead.

If you’d like to be a part of our growing digital ecosystem, or simply want to learn more about EVRYTHNG SmartLabel DL, sign up for a meeting with a member of our team.

About the Author:

Niall Murphy is Co-founder & CEO of EVRYTHNG, the Internet of Things platform for consumer products. EVRYTHNG has been named as Technology Pioneer 2018 by the World Economic Forum. A technologist, serial entrepreneur and angel investor, Niall has 25 years of experience in innovation and future thinking. He has founded and built pioneering businesses in internet infrastructure, the mobile internet and Web services. Niall is a frequent speaker at venues around the world, including TED, and an experienced mountaineer.

EVRYTHNG Amplifies SmartLabel® Initiatives for Consumer Product Brands; One On-Pack Code, Multiple Applications

SmartLabel

EVRYTHNG Amplifies SmartLabel® Initiatives for Consumer Product Brands; One On-Pack Code, Multiple Applications

NEW YORK & LONDON, March 4, 2019 – EVRYTHNG, the IoT platform that activates every consumer product to make it intelligent, interactive and trackable, today introduced the new EVRYTHNG SmartLabel DL — unleashing the full power of mass-scale product digitization with GS1 Digital Link and EVRYTHNG digital identities. More than 826 consumer product brands already, or will soon be, delivering SmartLabel compliant transparency. With EVRYTHNG SmartLabel DL, brands can simply and cost-effectively upgrade current initiatives to benefit from real-time data intelligence and full product lifecycle traceability, while turning individual products into owned-media channels for context-based marketing experiences, all from a single on-pack code. Let’s discuss how EVRYTHNG can make your investment in SmartLabel® even smarter; sign up for a meeting with a member of our team.

“With the launch of EVRYTHNG SmartLabel DL, brands can maximize the effectiveness of investments they’re already making in ‘on-pack’ digital triggers. Beyond delivering SmartLabel compliant product information, brands now have the ability to deliver dynamic direct-to-consumer experiences and capture valuable product lifecycle information all from a single code, whether purchased online or in-store,” said Niall Murphy, Co-founder and CEO, EVRYTHNG. “Direct-to-consumer relationships and real-time supply chain insight are critical to brands’ survival in today’s divergent retail industry.”

“Web enabled barcodes via GS1 Digital Link offer consumers a direct connection to brand authorized product information and robust content to deliver a rich digital experience,” said Bob Carpenter, President and CEO, GS1 US. “Because every physical product can now automatically be connected to the Web, consumers can experience unlimited product engagement opportunities, which also drives loyalty for brands.”

EVRYTHNG has supported the Grocery Manufacturer Association (GMA) SmartLabel initiative since 2017. “2019 is going to be a year of convergence with two big trends impacting the consumer products industry” said Murphy. “With GenZ consumers making values-based purchasing decisions and the growing Baby Boomer population demanding convenience, brands who can deliver both transparency and custom consumer experiences are going to rise to the top.”

Why EVRYTHNG SmartLabel DL?

Currently SmartLabel provides consumers a way to digitally access more detailed product information, including ingredients and provenance from 826 brands on more than 36,000 food, beverage, household, pet care, and personal care products simply by scanning a QR code on the product’s packaging. But up until now implementation for brands has not been dynamic, simple or cost-effective.

EVRYTHNG SmartLabel DL allows consumer goods companies to maximize the value of SmartLabel solutions, connecting the on-pack triggers to Active Digital Identities™ in the cloud. As a result, brands are able to deliver a range of contextual experiences and content, all triggered from the same code.

Specific benefits for consumer product brands, include:

Simplicity & Cost Savings – brands can now implement and manage SmartLabel faster, more cost-effectively and with greater ease:

  • Lowest cost of ownership of any SmartLabel program with a predictable, annual flat fee
  • Hosted SmartLabel landing pages — mobile optimized for the consumer experience while, providing brands with a simple and dynamic template for updating product data automatically — an additional cost-savings

Direct-to-Consumer Experiences — EVRYTHNG SmartLabel DL brings new functionality not available through other SmartLabel programs, allowing brands to connect directly with consumers through dynamic, context-based experiences.

Real-time Data Intelligence — Every consumer interaction with a product generates brand insights and permission-based data intelligence to fuel brands’ marketing initiatives.

GMA predicts that within five years, the SmartLabel initiative will cover 80% of food, beverage, pet care, personal care and household products in the U.S. and Canada.

“Our hope is that EVRYTHNG SmartLabel DL will drive and more importantly, accelerate adoption of SmartLabel across the consumer products industry by making it more accessible and scalable for brands” said Murphy.

About EVRYTHNG

EVRYTHNG is the market leading internet of things SaaS platform for consumer products, managing billions of unique digital identities in the cloud. Brands and their service providers work with EVRYTHNG to apply data science intelligence on an item-by-item basis, drive new digital applications, gain visibility into supply chains, and engage with their customers. EVRYTHNG led the creation of the new GS1 industry standards that have upgraded the world’s barcodes and product tags to connect every product to the Web.

Contact info:
Susan Baldwin
susan.baldwin@evrythng.com
+1 (509)939-1137

All Scans are Normal, but Some are More Normal Than Others

Scanning anomalies

All Scans are Normal, but Some are More Normal Than Others

A few weeks ago, we told you about the release of a number of machine learning tools in our products in particular for product authenticity. Our overall idea is to implement what we call Data Driven Product Authenticity; in short, we want to move from an industry fighting illicit products by using product tags that are hard to copy (e.g., because of the inks used) to an approach that uses the new gold to authenticate products: data.

Why you may ask? Well first because putting special tags on products bears significant costs. But then also because counterfeiters get better at replicating all kinds of sophisticated tags. Replicating the data footprints products leave throughout the supply chain is much harder.

The tools we are releasing allow us to assess the authenticity of products using the traces of data they generate. We started by applying machine learning techniques to detect gray markets and missing supply chain data. We then announced a system combining using traceability data, master data and image recognition. We are now proud to announce our first application of our patent pending Data Driven Product Authenticity system to detect counterfeit products by using machine learning algorithms on consumer scans data. We call this abnormal scans detection; detecting clusters of consumer scanning products that do not fit usual patterns. These data points are interesting, because they could reveal illicit activities such as theft or counterfeits.

As with the previous applications, our goal is to make machine learning accessible to our customers and hence we are packaging this new model and its process in a way that makes it directly actionable for our customers. Let us explain how this works below.

barcode scanning

Most interactions with digitized products in the EVRYTHNG platform start with scanning a tag (e.g., QR code, NFC tag, bluetooth tags, etc.). For example scanning a QR code gives you access to a product’s unique GS1 Digital Link (the GS1 URL standard co-chaired by EVRYTHNG’s CTO Dominique Guinard). The GS1 Digital link is the unique identifier of a product and the means by which people are able to interact with a product on a digital platform. Let’s look at some examples; you scan the QR code on a new, rather fancy handbag to unlock a promotion. Or, perhaps you scan a QR code on a shirt in-store to verify that it’s genuine. Both of these scans are recorded in our platform as an event, showing the history of a product, when and where it was scanned.

What if we see the same product being scanned many times in short succession and in different countries? Or suddenly a type of product is being scanned a lot more than in the previous weeks? Patterns in scan data are really interesting because abnormal scans could reveal counterfeits or parallel trade. But scans that are a result of illicit activities can be buried deep within normal scans. Which is why writing simple rules, for example with the EVRYTHNG reactor, is usually not enough. What we need is to leverage the power of machine learning, to distinguish between normal and abnormal scans; to learn from the scans and distinguish normal from abnormal pattern.

A machine learning workflow consists of several steps: data selection, data transformation, model training and model deployment and ongoing improvement.  Selecting the data is super easy, we just scoop up all of those scan actions in our platform. We then transform and normalize the data before feeding it to an isolation forest. The isolation forest is a type of unsupervised machine learning.

traceability data

Out of the unsupervised learning we get labelled actions, which in our case means a normal scan label or an abnormal scan label. These labelled actions are used to train a deep neural network, deployed on our machine learning service to classify future scans as normal or abnormal.

Abnormal scan detection

So far so good. This entire workflow is automated. Yet, we haven’t answered the most pressing question: What is normal anyway? That depends on the context, which a human is best suited to provide. As a starting point, the isolation forest will detect outliers. But then we need feedback from users to continuously train the model to reflect the perception of normality that users have. And users need to see progress and understand why a model came to a given conclusion. I must admit, we don’t have all the answers. We’re working with our fantastic UX team to develop a truly enjoyable and productive user experience identifying those illicit activities hiding in the forest and protecting your brand.

Our tests of the system so far have been really positive and we are looking forward to implementing this system with our first customers. We will report about the results here soon. Meanwhile, contact us if you are interested in deploying this workflow for your products. And remember: the future of product authenticity isn’t in complex inks but in data. Data is the new gold and at EVRYTHNG we are developing ways of extracting this gold using the power of machine learning!

EVRYTHNG’s New Mobile Web Scanning Toolkit

Scanthng by EVRYTHNG

EVRYTHNG’s New Mobile Web Scanning Toolkit

Frictionless Scanning of Products from the Web

Consumers scan products these days for any number of reasons—to access product contents and provenance, claim rewards and special offers, or get some kind of brand experience. This engagement with the physical product is enabled by a simple smartphone scan of an on-pack trigger such as a QR code, DataMatrix code or common GS1 U.P.C./EAN barcode, which can be spotted on most products available in shops and supermarkets.

But one of the obstacles to this seemingly simple process has been the necessity for consumers to download an app. Any added ‘friction’ to the consumer experience results in lower engagement rates and less value to the brand.

This is why EVRYTHNG has launched a new, improved version of our mobile scanning SDK, called scanthng.js. It no longer needs a native app but can run from within the browser, which means for consumers ultra fast and frictionless scanning from a web-based application, such as a campaign landing page or longer-lived part of the brand website. For brands and agencies, it is now faster and simpler to build mobile-centric scanning experiences for consumers—things like a ‘scan to win!’, ‘get provenance details’ or ‘scan to authenticate’ call to action on the brand’s website, which have been shown to significantly boost engagement rates in the post-purchase part of the product’s life cycle.

Barcode scanner

Digital product lifecycle

Mobile QR code scanning

Introducing Scanthng.js

With EVRYTHNG, this sort of application is built with one of the most innovative web SDKs, scanthng.js, which allows developers to augment their web apps with the ability to take a photo of one of around 20 different kinds of 1D or 2D barcodes, and find out which EVRYTHNG product or Thng it is associated with. This can then power an experience with details about that product (for provenance, authenticity or informative purposes) or perform a static or dynamic redirection to some other brand page or resource. The benefits of using our SDK for this purpose are threefold:

  1. No need for native applications to scan products—product recognition can be done directly from a (mobile) web browser.
  2. No need to write code for scanning, uploading or matching products from scratch—our library packages it all.
  3. Automatic querying and discovery of the full product item the barcode refers to using the EVRYTHNG Platform.

Mobile scanning

The good news from this announcement is that we are launching a brand new version of scanthng.js with a major enhancement: the ability to scan all the existing kinds of barcodes and to perform image recognition from the user’s camera in video mode (instead of simply a still photo).

Product QR code scan

Example scanning web app displaying a video view

This makes it much easier for consumers as they can expect much the same experience as a 3rd party native barcode scanner app (a match once the video contains a valid code), but it is also good for developers as it uses a virtually identical API for both inputs and outputs. This means that existing users of the old evrythng-scan.js SDK can easily upgrade their apps and offer video-based scanning to their customers starting from today with the same deep integration and automatic recognition with the data contained in their account.

Scanning code

Simple example showing how few lines of code are needed for powerful video scanning.

Get Started Today

The easiest way to start taking advantage of this new capability is to follow the walkthrough which will show you how to build a simple web app that uses the SDK to identify any product codes that it scans if they exist within your EVRYTHNG account.

For developers who already use evrythng-scan.js in their apps, the path to creating an improved experience with scanthng.js is as simple as:

  • Use the new scanStream() method instead of scan().
  • Provide some container for the camera view (called containerId) as shown in the image above.

That’s all that’s required! You can read more about this SDK in the Developer Hub Documentation

Data-Driven Product Authenticity Using Machine Learning

Product authenticity using machine learning

Data-Driven Product Authenticity Using Machine Learning

The problem of counterfeit goods in the consumer products industry continues to grow unchecked, with 2018 bringing revenue losses of $1.2 trillion*. It is abundantly clear that current anti-counterfeit measures aren’t able to address this hugely damaging trend. At EVRYTHNG we’ve been busy developing a brand protection solution which harnesses the power of machine learning to finally give brands the weapons they need to win the fight.

We are proud to introduce a new, Web-native way to authenticate products. It doesn’t require dedicated software, proprietary tags or changes to manufacturing processes. We leverage state-of-the-art machine learning technologies and a user-centric product authenticity toolkit to examine both physical and digital characteristics of a product to determine its authenticity.

Data-Driven Product Authenticity by Hand   

The best way to understand how data-driven product authenticity using machine learning works is to conduct a simple test of how it would work without machine learning in the EVRYTHNG platform, that is how it would work if you were manually checking the authenticity of a product.

Step One: Purchase or find a recently purchased piece of clothing in your closet. Ask yourself this question—Is the brand authentic? How can I be sure?

Step Two: Examine the label. Is it intact? Have you seen this type of label before? Examine the label more carefully. Does it look genuine? Is it written in the local language, containing the usual instructions and warnings?

Step Three: If you’re satisfied the label is genuine, examine the clothing. For example, look at the stitches. Are they properly aligned?

Step Four: Don’t put your garment away just yet. Examining the physical product can only take you so far. Counterfeiters can tamper with the physical product, they can make near-perfect copies or produce backdoor goods. Parallel importers can circumvent local regulators by reselling products originally destined for another market. But… one thing they can’t do is re-create or modify the product-related data stored online by consumers, retailers and manufacturers.

Step Five: Information is power, so let’s use this to our advantage. We want to find out if others in your region bought the same garment. Take a picture of the clothing and do an image search. Are you getting results that match your garment? Also take a close look at the barcode number or item number on the label. Does it match the barcodes on the clothes you are finding online? Does the search result return online shops in your area that sell this product?

You’ve just manually completed your first data-driven product authentication! And all this using off-the-shelf software and without using any proprietary tags or markers, simply by using the power of various available data sources. The combination of multiple authentication factors provides assurance the garment you purchased is genuine, even if in isolation each data point is insufficient, when combined, we have a very powerful indicator of authenticity.

Now let us explain how we automated this process with machine learning in the EVRYTHNG platform.

Data-driven product authenticity

So How Does It Work?

If the garment has a QR code with GS1 Digital Link (the GS1 Standard co-chaired by EVRYTHNG’s co-founder and CTO Dominique Guinard) and an Active Digital Identity in the cloud managed by EVRYTHNG, consumers can very simply access the data-driven product authenticity Web app by scanning the garment’s QR code with a mobile phone. The Web app will ask the consumer to take a picture of the garment and submit it to the app. A few seconds later, the app provides notification of authenticity. It’s really that simple!

Diving Deeper into the Technology

The unique item-level identity forms the backbone of data-driven product authenticity. The GS1 Digital Link is a standard product URL that can be decoded by industrial scanners as well as ordinary smartphones. Brands using the EVRYTHNG platform to manage products can produce items #borndigital. Each individual product item comes with a GS1 Digital Link encoded in a QR or NFC tag and an Active Digital Identity in the cloud. This is a key advantage of the EVRYTHNG platform. The fact that most smartphones either come equipped with native QR code reading capabilities (e.g. the iOS Camera app) or a widely adopted app which can read QR codes (e.g. Twitter, WeChat, etc.) installed, means brands can anticipate a large adoption rate. With the EVRYTHNG data-driven product authenticity app, consumers simply scan the QR code on the item they would like to authenticate.

QR code scans

Scan Mapping

Information is stored in the EVRYTHNG Platform every time a product QR code is stored. Over time, this creates a map of related scans including, frequency and context—for instance, the location, market segment, or time of day in which the scans occurred. Using unsupervised machine learning techniques such as, isolation forests for anomaly detection, penalizes product scans that differ too much from scans of related products. This is useful information because parallel imports, backdoor goods or counterfeit products would reflect this lower score, since products are being scanned in the wrong location and in the wrong context.

Creating a Digital History

Next, we consider an individual product’s digital history. Each item has actions, or events created through steps in the manufacturing and supply chain. For example, a manufacturer scans the item, or internal attributes of the item like, temperature resulting in an action. EVRYTHNG’s rule-engine “Reactor” automates business rules for these actions. For example, an item must first be scanned by its manufacturer to be activated. A product that has not been activated by the manufacturer will result in a very low authenticity score, because it is likely to be a counterfeit.

Machine learning product authentication

Product Authentication

Finally, we also want to authenticate the physical product. Conceptually, the fingerprint of the item you have in your hands is compared to the reference fingerprint of its product type. The closer they match, the more likely the product is genuine. It is important to mention that each product item has a unique code. By scanning the QR code, not only do we know it is the correct item but also its product type.

How does physical authentication work on the EVRYTHNG platform? We developed a computer vision component that allows brands to train a convolutional neural network with authentic product images. The model learns to classify images of products based on different visual characteristics, such as color, stitches, texture, or label placement. When a consumer submits an image, the model classifies the image and returns the product ID and prediction probability. The higher the probability, the higher the overall authentication score. If the model returns the wrong product ID with a high probability, we can expect a counterfeit product.

Real-time product authentication

The final step is to inform consumers whether the product they purchased is authentic. For brands, each time a consumer registers a product to verify authenticity, they receive valuable lifecycle insights and alerts to help analyze and react to gray market and counterfeit behavior.

By using the EVRYTHNG platform and our new machine learning tools, brands can leverage data to directly engage with consumers while combating counterfeit and gray market imports. EVRYTHNG calculates the probability that a product is authentic by combining multiple factors from the digital supply chain. Authentication factors include: checkpoints along the supply chain, product profile data and anonymized feedback from users who bought similar products. With patent pending technology in this field, EVRYTHNG provides consumer product brands with the tools to leverage powerful real-time data in their digital supply chain, while empowering consumers by giving them the tools to make informed decisions about the products they buy.

(*Source: Global Brand Counterfeiting Report, 2018 – R Strategic Global 2018)

EVRYTHNG Propels Consumer Goods Industry into the Circular Economy with New Era of Product Digitization

EVRYTHNG Propels Consumer Goods Industry into the Circular Economy with New Era of Product Digitization

NEW YORK & LONDON, September 25, 2018EVRYTHNG, the IoT platform that activates every consumer product to make it intelligent, interactive and trackable, today announced the EVRYTHNG platform is powering a first of its kind recycling scheme providing consumer product brands and retailers with vital insights to consumer recycling habits and behaviors. Debuted in Spain in July 2018, this innovative recycling program is helping the retail industry meet sustainability and green targets, and includes participation by leading brands — Carrefour, PepsiCo, Henkel, Unilever and Procter & Gamble, industry bodies and local authorities.

How does it work?

The first app, powered by EVRYTHNG and launched at Carrefour supermarkets in Spain, is called Reciclaya. The new app allows customers to determine how to recycle individual products by simply scanning the barcode on their supermarket receipt. More specifically, the app separates products into virtual recycling bins so that customers can place them into the closest corresponding containers.

It doesn’t get much simpler. With the new app, consumers follow three steps:

  • Scan shopping receipts to import purchased products into a mobile recycling app.
  • Sort at home. Through the mobile app, consumers can access information on where, when and how to recycle the different parts of each product based on local schemes.
  • Recycle items in street bins or preferred recycling centers. Consumers can earn rewards by registering where they are recycling by scanning or tapping identity tags on recycling units.

“For the first time, consumers can receive detailed information on how to recycle all products and packaging using a single app, and be rewarded for their participation,” said Niall Murphy, Co-founder and CEO, EVRYTHNG. “Its convenient and simple, and through a gamified experience, it drives a new style of behavior.”

“As part of our commitment to the environment we launched Reciclaya in collaboration with EVRYTHNG and Recycl3R,” said Maria Quintin, Director of Corporate Social Responsibility and Environment, Carrefour Spain. “Our customers can now very quickly and simply determine how to recycle the products they’ve purchased by scanning the barcode on their receipt.”

“While this initiative launched in Europe, we anticipate similar recycling programs to be rolled out worldwide over the next year,” continued Murphy.

The Circular Economy

The World Economic Forum (WEF), European Union (EU) and United Nations (UN) are all driving circular economy initiatives. The EU for example, has a target to recycle 75% of packaging waste by 2030. (Source: EU Action Plan for Circular Economy)

To achieve this goal, government, industry bodies, technology companies, brands and retailers have come together in an industry-wide collaboration to drive up recycling, and find effective and frictionless ways to increase consumer participation and reduce waste.

“Brands are looking for creative ways to hit recycling targets,” said Murphy, also an active member of the World Economic Forum’s ‘Accelerating Sustainable Production’ committee. “Our work with Carrefour is among the first deployments at scale but other brands are jumping on board in real-time.”

“P&G is delighted to participate in this initiative that encourages recycling and motivates to have a more sustainable lifestyle,” said Elio Estevez, Corporate Communication, Scientific Communications and Environmental Sustainability, Procter & Gamble. “Orienting consumers about where to recycle the packaging of the products they buy, positively impacts in our communities and the environment. We want to promote responsible consumption by helping consumers to be informed and make more sustainable purchasing decisions.”

The Technology Behind the App

EVRYTHNG gives every product item a unique digital identity, called an Active Digital Identity™. This digital identity provides brands with item-level tracking and business intelligence throughout the product lifecycle, from sales and distribution to use and disposal.

EVRYTHNG teamed with Recycl3R to transform the way consumer packaged goods are recycled —specifically with connected packaging — making recycling easier, and more transparent.

“Let’s face it, recycling is not as easy as it should be,” said Iván González, CEO, Recycl3R. “The recycling scene is fragmented, and regulations are typically not uniform or standard, even within the same region. Brands do not have a unified way of communicating with consumers about how to recycle, making it hard for individuals to engage in the task. Our work with EVRYTHNG is changing this dynamic through a scalable smart recycling ecosystem.”

By combining the capabilities of EVRYTHNG’s IoT SaaS platform with the recycling information service developed by Recycl3R, brands and retailers are able to deploy recycling programs at scale, boosting consumer engagement and trust, by delivering clear recycling information to consumers through smart packaging, and then rewarding socially responsible consumption.

The work towards a recycling solution for the circular economy has in part been made possible thanks to the TagItSmart research project (www.tagitsmart.eu), where EVRYTHNG takes an active part as the Smart Products Platform provider.

“We are continuously exploring ways to apply IoT technology throughout the product lifecycle, from sustainable production to more efficient transportation to responsible recycling post-purchase,” said Murphy. “Today’s announcement ushers in a new era of product digitization to drive circular economy initiatives within the consumer goods industry.”

About EVRYTHNG
EVRYTHNG is the market leading internet of things SaaS platform for consumer products, managing billions of unique digital identities in the cloud. Brands and their service providers work with EVRYTHNG to apply data science intelligence on an item-by-item basis, drive new digital applications, gain visibility into supply chains, and engage with their customers. EVRYTHNG created the new GS1 industry standards that have upgraded the world’s barcodes and product tags to connect every product to the Web. Learn more at: https://evrythng.com and @EVRYTHNG

Contact info:
Susan Baldwin
susan@leappr.com
+1 (509)939-1137

Smart Recycling Propels Consumer Goods Industry into the Circular Economy

Recycling

Smart Recycling Propels Consumer Goods Industry into the Circular Economy

Recycling. We all know it’s important but the reality is — it isn’t always easy. And when things aren’t easy for busy consumers on-the-go, even the best intentions get lost in the rush. After all, time is precious.

With this in mind EVRYTHNG has prioritized initiatives in support of a more sustainable future including, recycling.

Drumroll…
We’re excited to bring you a much anticipated update to the news we shared last April about our collaboration with Recycl3R. Specifically, our mutual quest to transform the way consumers recycle products. After months of testing and perfecting the app in TheCircularLab, we officially launched a first-of-its kind recycling program in Spain.

For the first time, consumers can receive detailed information on how to recycle all products and packaging using a single app, and be rewarded for their participation. It’s convenient and simple, and through a gamified experience, it drives a new style of behavior.

How does it work?
The app, powered by EVRYTHNG and launched by Carrefour at supermarkets in Spain, is called Reciclaya. The new app allows customers to determine how to recycle individual products by simply scanning the barcode on their supermarket receipt. Consumers follow three simple steps:

  • Scan shopping receipts to import purchased products into a mobile recycling app.
  • Sort at home. Through the mobile app, consumers can access information on where, when and how to recycle the different parts of each product based on local schemes.
  • Recycle items in street bins or preferred recycling centers. Consumers can earn rewards by registering where they are recycling by scanning or tapping identity tags on recycling units.

It Takes A Village
This new recycling scheme wasn’t born in a vacuum. As part of the European Union’s TagistSmart-Horizon 2020 initiative, EVRYTHNG teamed with industry bodies, local authorities and leading brands including, Carrefour, PepsiCo, Henkel, Unilever and Procter & Gamble, to bring this innovative recycling program to market. By simplifying recycling for consumers, we help the retail industry meet sustainability and green targets.

Our work with Carrefour is among the first deployments at scale, but other brands are jumping on board in real-time.

What’s Next
We’re continuously exploring ways to apply IoT technology throughout the product lifecycle, from sustainable production to more efficient transportation to responsible recycling post-purchase. We’re ushering in a new era of product digitization to drive circular economy initiatives within the consumer goods industry. If you’re a consumer product manufacturer, now is the time to catch the wave. To learn more about EVRYTHNG’s sustainability initiatives visit (insert link).