Product-level serialization has traditionally been linked to regulatory requirements in heavily regulated industries such as pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and tobacco. Its primary purpose was to prevent the infiltration of counterfeit goods into these markets.
Nevertheless, organizations operating in these sectors have come to realise that achieving complete traceability within the supply chain offers advantages beyond mere compliance. It opens up opportunities for increased visibility, data exchange, and information sharing, providing a significant competitive edge to brands.
Furthermore, with the increasing availability of more advanced labeling and serialisation systems at lower price points and improved integration into existing lines and systems, organizations of all sizes and across various sectors can now enjoy these benefits. Lee Metters, Group Business Development Director at Domino Printing Sciences, delves into this exploration.
Until recently, the perceived complexity and high cost of implementing serialised solutions acted as a deterrent to widespread adoption. Organizations embracing serialization were mainly those with regulatory compliance obligations, such as pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and tobacco, as well as high-value luxury goods manufacturers aiming to protect their brand and reduce the risk of counterfeits.
Despite the initial implementation costs, these manufacturers quickly discovered that serialization brought about significant business benefits beyond brand protection and compliance. As the foundation for data sharing and enabling digital capabilities in physical products, serialization has created opportunities for improved supply chain management, personalized consumer engagement, and enhanced brand positioning.
Today, the cost of serialization through 2D codes is no longer a barrier to implementation. The technology is readily available and accessible across various markets, including low-cost sectors like fresh produce and even postage stamps. Additionally, as the benefits of serialization beyond compliance become more apparent, specialised companies like Second Thought and Neurotags have emerged to provide ready-made support for serialization, reducing costs and making the technology more appealing.
In summary, the world is recognizing the opportunities associated with serialization using 2D codes. The time is ripe for data sharing, and those lacking technological capabilities may soon find themselves falling behind.
Benefits of serialisation
Gateway to the future
Certainly, while these opportunities are crucial for current operational efficiency and competitive distinction, they arguably only scratch the surface of what might be accomplished using 2D code-enabled serialization in the future.
In recent years, supply chains have become more efficient but also more intricate and volatile. Products are shipped through channels at an accelerated pace, and there is a growing global demand for supply chain traceability. Unique 2D codes act as a digital gateway linking any physical product to its supply chain signature. This facilitates brands in collecting and sharing supply chain data, which can be utilized to identify global trends and support planning to minimize waste.
In its most visionary capacity, product-level serialization may pave the way for a future where individual products come with their own product pedigree. This includes imagery depicting the product’s lifecycle, starting from its source components or raw ingredients through every step of the supply chain to the consumer, and even to its decomposition.
Beyond reinforcing a brand’s credentials, this approach, from a recall or waste management perspective, aids in pinpointing the precise location where issues may have arisen or determining if customer complaints are unfounded. It also provides brands with a unique capability to actively contribute to environmental and sustainability targets by identifying wasteful processes, eliminating causes of waste during manufacture, and taking steps to reduce packaging waste at the consumer end of the supply chain.
Internationally, manufacturers are recognising the potentials of 2D code-enabled serialization. Cost is no longer a hindrance, as more advanced labeling and serialization systems are available at more affordable price points. Additionally, many manufacturers may discover that their existing coding and marking technologies are already suitable for this purpose. With only minor upgrades, a skilled coding and marking provider can assist you in identifying the most reliable option for your business.
However, for numerous organizations, the advantages of this technology within the supply chain are yet to be fully realized. The time to take action is now. Companies should embrace the next exciting phase in supply chain management to stay competitive and unlock innovative opportunities for differentiation.