The Power Behind the QR Code

July 7, 2021

The Power Behind the QR Code

Tapping into the big consumer and business benefits of granular-level product data

By Ty Schroeder

Much has changed in the world since the COVID-19 crisis began—and many of these changes are here to stay. Take the QR code, for instance. Since the pandemic began, QR codes have seen an 11% increase in new U.S. users. Why has QR code adoption increased now? And, more importantly, what does the future of smart packaging technologies like QR codes look like?

Quick response (QR) codes are machine-readable barcodes that contain information about a product. First invented in 1994 by a Japanese automotive company to track vehicles and parts during the manufacturing process, QR codes today have penetrated into the consumer world, where they are seen everywhere from restaurant menus to vending machines.

One of the greatest benefits of QR codes is that

they place data at a user’s fingertips.

In the supply chain, this is critical for businesses from a traceability & compliance perspective.

One of the greatest benefits of QR codes is that they place data at a user’s fingertips. In the global supply chain, this proves highly critical for businesses from a traceability and compliance perspective. In addition, it is having a transformative impact on the consumer. As individuals become more comfortable with scannable elements like QR codes, they are increasingly seeking out opportunities to use their smart devices to scan and learn more about a particular item.

The movement by businesses and consumers alike to seek out product-level data has led to a rise in smart packaging options like the QR code—and this movement is predicted to continue. According to a Grand View Research report, the global smart packaging industry is anticipated to reach $26.7 billion by 2024.

At Ashton Potter, we’ve observed the shift to the data-driven company and the actively engaged consumer, and have played a vital role in breaking down data silos for greater transparency. Through our ProLinc® product traceability platform and secure labels, we empower companies to establish digital identities for every product and use scannable elements to authenticate product legitimacy and provide user-tailored insight. This leads to big benefits for businesses and consumers.

The Benefits for Businesses

Businesses have millions—and sometimes billions—of products in circulation. Maintaining records for each product across the supply chain can be challenging; and yet, it is increasingly becoming necessary in order to uphold standards for quality and compliance and to maximize efficiency and profitability for a business.

For instance, in the event of a food recall, a lack of data may result in all items being removed from a shelf when only one lot number needed to be removed. This reduces consumer confidence in the integrity of the product and can be highly costly as the company must refund the retailer for all products thrown out—even if only one lot needed to be disposed of. When product data is stored in a QR code or similar scannable element, retailers can quickly identify and dispose of the specific products that were compromised. This decreases the time to recall resolution and leads to large savings for manufacturers.

However, when using QR codes, there is the concern that malicious agents can lead users to unreputable sites that infect devices. Through secure, tamper-evident labels, such as those that ProLinc® offers, businesses can ensure that scannable codes are safe for consumer use. Further still, these elements are near impossible to replicate, and so can be used for in-field enforcement by businesses and governments to ensure product legitimacy.

The Benefits for Consumers

From supporting ethically sourced products to seeking allergen information, today’s consumers have a vested interest in the products and brands they support. In fact, 81% of shoppers say transparency is important or extremely important to them. As such, they are increasingly looking for greater insight from companies into their supply chain practices.

With a rise in familiarity with digital elements like QR codes, consumers are seeking out scannable codes to provide greater information. Technology platforms like ProLinc® empower companies to securely embed product-specific data directly onto the label and assign different permissions levels. For example, when an individual scans a label in store, they are provided consumer-level data on the product’s authenticity and genealogy. When an operator scans the same label in a manufacturing environment, they can surface data relevant by job function (e.g. quality, operations, compliance). If a compliance officer then scans the product on a store shelf, they can access historical data to verify legitimacy. This allows businesses to empower their customers by tapping into the same forensic traceability solution used to securely manage and monitor products in the factory and by regulatory agencies.

See How Product-Level Data Can Transform Your Business

Data insight is key for businesses and consumers today. Through secure labeling, organizations are able to make this data more accessible for all stakeholders throughout the supply chain.

At Ashton Potter, we combine nearly a century of high security printing with a forensic traceability solution to empower organizations to achieve greater visibility and control over their products. Scalable to the billions, ProLinc® establishes unique digital identities for every component, product, and batch, which can be securely accessed at a single scan of the product label.

Speak with an expert today to learn more about how our secure labels and traceability solution help organizations maintain product transparency and leverage the power behind the code.