Last week, I received a notice from the manufacturer of my car that the front passenger side airbag of my make, model and year had an issue and recall notice. However, the replacement part would not be available until Spring. Until the part is replaced, nobody can sit in the front passenger seat due to the significant dangers if this airbag were to deploy. What an annoyance, but how great is it that the manufacturer found me to provide the information and warning?
The dealership where I bought the vehicle has closed. Per the documentation that came with the letter, they used the vehicle’s VIN to match it with my state’s automobile registration database to locate the most likely current owner to send this information. Not a guarantee, but it certainly allowed them to find me and get me this critical information.
The power of one
Automobiles are serialized with a VIN for reasons exactly like this. Recalls and other notifications are extremely common in a big-ticket item like a car. Plus, it enables aftermarket resale evaluations to find that exact VIN’s accident history in insurance databases. Knowing that exact automobile via its VIN has a great deal of power and capabilities. That’s the “power of one”.
Companies today are looking at “connecting” their products and packaging to the data-driven world. This largely relies on printed internet addresses or QR barcodes on a product that, when scanned, redirect the device to a static website. This is “generic” connectivity. It is very limited, and does not allow for a high degree of engagement or richness of experience. What if the “power of one” could facilitate an exceptionally deep and robust interactive experience between the purchaser and the brand?
Think of the opportunities if we could establish a unique identity for each and every product a manufacturer produces. Could we track and trace it throughout its entire supply and distribution chain journey? Would we be able to authenticate it, and validate its legitimacy in the marketplace at any time? This can be done today for automobiles, can it be done today with any product?
An industry example
One industry that is looking to take advantage of its customers’ desire for a richer product experience is wine. Wine companies are at the forefront of implementing technologies that customers can use with their smartphones to get deeper information from the winery about their wine. These companies are also looking at technologies that will help stop the growing global issue of counterfeiting. A recent study found that 2.3% of all wine sold in legitimate retailers in the EU was counterfeit.
Imagine establishing this unique identification for each bottle coming off a bottling line. We would then be able to immediately authenticate that bottle in the marketplace. Second, metadata about that bottle could be associated with its unique identifier. This would enable the user to discover rich detail about that wine that is not physically able to fit on the bottle’s printed label. Finally, the user could communicate back to the winery with information about their tasting experience and their own individual tasting notes and reviews. Uniqueness and the “power of one” enable a strong anti-counterfeiting solution as well as a data-driven enriched customer experience.
Now, most will be thinking “What do we have to add to the bottle to make this happen?” Many might be thinking “Well, just add a serial number in a printed code.”
The answer is “Change everything without changing anything!”
Systech’s UniSecure creates a unique signature, or “eFingerprint”, for each bottle based on the retail barcode that is already on the wine’s label. These printed barcodes, though looking identical to each other, have microscopic variations that can be analyzed to derive the eFingerprint. Each bottle now essentially has its own automobile VIN that can be leveraged.
With a simple smartphone app, customers can start by validating that their bottle is authentic. Then, they can see as much information about the contents as the winery wants to provide, including vintage details, appellation, terroir, varietal percentage, harvest date, crush date, sugar levels, ABV, barreling statistics, cases produced and any other data elements.
This eFingerprint cannot be reverse engineered or duplicated. If counterfeiters are trying to distribute fake product, any attempt to authenticate will turn up as “suspect” 100% of the time due to these printing realities.
As alluded to earlier, UniSecure then allows the purchaser to comment, and send information back to the brand. Comprehensive tasting notes can be shared, allowing every purchaser to provide essential feedback as to whether (or not) the winemaker is meeting its expected flavor profile and level of quality. Other information like cork quality, aroma and pricing can also be sent back to the brand.
If a brand has its own existing mobile application, UniSecure’s Mobile Software Development Kit (SDK) can be used to add these exciting authentication capabilities to the app. This can help drive focused offers to those who authenticate, leveraging all the metadata surrounding the bottle. Remember, authentication captures the GPS location, so offers can be very localized to both the product and the market.
Brand owners can now analyze this extensive data. Not only do they know the specific wine in question, but gain valuable insight into the customer experience with that wine–at crowdsourcing scale. The entire supply and distribution chain journey can now be tracked, so the winery can investigate bad experiences to see if certain mid-tier distributors are consistently having issues. The company can track certain retailers and geographies who have a higher or lower rate of physically authenticating. The data-driven opportunities are endless.
Think of the possibilities with other products and industries as well!!!