Why you must digitize your products for today’s complex global supply chains

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Your brand may not know where the majority of its products are right now. And it’s not alone.

This lack of insight poses a significant business problem. Beyond the pandemic-related challenges, supply chains now must answer a consumer population whose preferences and expectations are increasingly complex. Customers want more sustainability, safer products, proof of authenticity and the ability to see where their goods are made or their food is harvested.

In a world where brands have digitized or automated almost every process and byte of data, most of their products still can’t provide a digital footprint – or much information at all – after they leave the loading dock. And that’s why product digitization can become a brand’s best friend.

“For at least three decades, companies have invested in new software and systems to get through the digital transformation process,” says Ken Sickles, Chief Product Officer at Digimarc. “But the things those companies were created to sell – their products – haven’t been part of that digital transformation.”

In this article, we’ll define product digitization and outline its benefits for brands ready to embrace a new level of insight and automation.

What is product digitization? 

In the simplest terms, product digitization means giving physical products and packaging (such as a bottle of lotion or baby formula) a digital life. This digital life allows products to interact with the digital realm and provide valuable data to the brand. 

We’re all used to living in a digital world these days. We know when our grocery delivery driver leaves the store and when they’ll arrive at our house. But the products we buy and use are, for the most part, not included in that digital ecosystem. A clamshell of berries, for example, can’t interact with you or your smart devices, tell you whether it’s been recalled and can’t communicate with sorting machines about what to do when it reaches a recycling center. But digitized products can communicate with the world around them. They can inform machines how they should be handled, as in recycling centers, or give the end customer important information such as installation and usage instructions.

Top uses for product digitization 

Giving formerly analog products this ability to communicate with a digital world has powerful benefits throughout the supply chain. In the case of a clamshell of berries, digitization allows brands to track:

  • Where the contents were picked.

  • When the contents were picked.

  • Whether the contents are safe to eat.

  • Which food product it contained and which kind of plastic it’s made from, so recycling sortation machines know how to process it.

That means you have information about the product throughout the supply chain – before it leaves your possession to when it is recycled. In practical terms, that information opens a world of possibilities for making your supply chain more efficient. You can see, for example, how long it took for those berries to get from the farm, to the store, to the customer and to recycling. By better understanding the duration at each stage, you can find ways to optimize the journey, processes and packaging.

Product digitization solves supply chain challenges

Adding your products to that digital mix is crucial for completing your digital transformation. After all, if you don’t know where your products are, the millions of dollars you’ve invested in supply chain management software isn’t going to deliver as much value as it could.

By adding digital watermarks or serialized QR codes to your products, connected to a cloud-based record of their journey and interactions, you can see where the bottlenecks are in your supply chain. Maybe a particular distribution partner holds your product longer than another. Digitized products allow you to make better, more informed and proactive business decisions. Add value, data, automation and optimizations across your supply chain by digitizing your products today. 

Up next: Your product needs a digital twin. Here’s why.

Product digitization done right

You need actionable data across the entire product lifecycle. See your products through their eyes when you digitize products and packaging with Digimarc. Get started >

About Digimarc

Digimarc is a global leader in product digitization, delivering business value across industries through unique identities and cloud-based solutions. A trusted partner in deterring counterfeiting of global currency for more than 20 years, Digimarc uncovers a product’s journey to provide intelligence and promote a prosperous, safer and more sustainable world. With Digimarc, you can finally see everything. And when you see everything, you can achieve anything. For more information, visit us at digimarc.com.

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About the Author

Jervie David Montejar
A food lover who wants to try every delicious dishes around him and spread the news to everyone to try it as well. Finding the latest trends about food and restaurants around Cebu and the rest of the world :) "Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first." -Ernestine Ulmer
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