The Physical-Digital Seal: The New Way to Seal Your Packaging

29 Aug, 2022
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The Physical-Digital Seal

With the advent of new technologies, IoT solutions, and smart devices, the line between the physical and digital world is blurring. But, in the realm of supply chain visibility, product traceability and tracking, and authenticity verification, this is all but negative! The connection between digital and physical twins makes it easier for producers to safely record transactions on the blockchain, gain insights, and safeguard the supply chain from adulteration and diversion attempts.

With the Authena Shield™ – the end-to-end solution for tracking and authentication across the supply chain and beyond – consumers and manufacturers can track items in real-time and ensure the authenticity, safety, and originality of each item.  Here is what you need to know about the digital-physical seal – or electronic seal – with the power to enhance your packaging solution.

What is the Physical-Digital Seal?

Thanks to emerging technologies, companies are becoming increasingly reliant on smart packaging solutions. Smart packaging refers to a category of technology-enhanced packaging strategies, which aim to track the product, check its status, temperature, and quality, and prevent counterfeit attempts.

Undeniably, solutions such as RFID tags, QR codes, and barcodes are some of the most popular types of smart packaging technologies. But despite how widely used these solutions are, they are even more efficient technologies worth exploring, including physical-digital seals.

Physical-digital seals are electronic signatures which are applied to a product’s packaging and create a copy (or twin) of the item in the digital world. Once the digital representation of an item is created, manufacturers and consumers can enjoy a range of benefits including:

  • Easily recording transactions on the blockchain
  • Easily accessing information about the product and its journey through the supply chain
  • Streamlined access to proof of verification and reliable information

Unlike QR codes and barcodes, digital-physical seals play a vital role in making the entire distribution network safer, more trustworthy, and protected from tampering attempts.

What’s more, thanks to Authena Smart Contracts, transactions, interactions, status, and location of the product are consistently monitored and immutably recorded on the blockchain.

Why use a Physical-Digital Seal?

While barcodes, QR codes, and serial numbers represent the most common attempts to keep a product safe, there is more than one reason to switch to Authena’s physical-digital seals. Some of these include:

  • Physical-digital seals are designed to be cloning-resistant
  • Physical-digital seals deliver and store encrypted information, which is protected from hacking attempts
  • Physical-digital seals carry evidence of a product’s status, temperature, and packaging quality, meaning that any fraud or counterfeiting attempt can be easily identified.
  • Physical-digital seals become unusable once removed

Why use a Physical-Digital Seal

Benefits of the Physical-Digital Seal

Physical-digital seals represent the equivalent of a digital signature, or a stamp placed on each item to confirm its authenticity and originality.

But while physical-digital seals are useful to protect a product from counterfeiting, fraud, or diversion attempts, they also offer a wide range of benefits. Some of the advantages that digital signatures can offer over basic QR or barcodes include the following ones.

Reduce Costs With a Physical-Digital Seal

Reduce Costs With a Physical-Digital Seal

Introducing a physical-digital seal system in your packaging solution undeniably requires a significant initial investment. However, this system can lead to significant savings over multiple aspects of your business, including:

  • Preventing the financial losses associated with counterfeit and fake products – the trade of counterfeit goods amounted to a whopping $449 billion in 2019, and the rise of eCommerce is steepening this trend. Safeguarding your goods from counterfeit attempts can protect your sales and profits.
  • Preventing reputational damage – having fake goods or adulterated products in circulation under your brand name can significantly affect your reputation, customer loyalty, and market share which, in turn, can stunt the growth of your business.
  • Gaining insights into your product’s journey to the end user – smart digital twins of physical products play an important role in delivering data about the product’s interactions, location, and consumption, which can help you craft a more efficient sales strategy.

Increase Security With a Physical-Digital Seal

Unlike QR codes and barcodes, the exchange of information that a physical-digital seal enables is secured and encrypted. NFC- and RFID-powered physical digital seals enable the exchange of data between the package and an enabled device, which can read the smart label from a short distance away, thus keeping it protected from bad actors.

Physical-digital seals also play a vital role in helping manufacturers pinpoint their products through the supply chain, visualize fraud attempts, and address suspicious activity in real-time.

Some of the information that the digital identities of a product will deliver to manufacturers and consumers include:

  • Details about the product
  • Security measures
  • Use and opening instructions
  • Warnings
  • Useful information such as expiry dates and allergens

Improve Efficiency With a Physical-Digital Seal

Physical-digital seals are a crucial aspect of an end-to-end traceability system designed to deliver information about the products through the supply chain in real-time. These seals can significantly boost the efficiency of the entire chain, while also reducing waste and limiting the risk of counterfeiting attempts.

What’s more, products can be managed through a streamlined producer dashboard and customer interface.

How does a Physical-Digital Seal work?

How does a Physical-Digital Seal work

Physical-digital seals make use of emerging technologies such as:

Physical-digital seals also leverage a two-part technology, which requires an enabled device (such as a smartphone) to read the information stored and delivered. Thanks to the information collected each time the smart packaging is scanned, physical-digital seals deliver:

  • An end-to-end communication system
  • Management of product information
  • Real-time information about the product and users
  • A two-way communication system with consumers

Limitations of the Physical-Digital Seal

Investing in physical-digital seals is a great way to boost supply chain visibility nationally, internationally, and even in remote areas. This system works for the most straightforward B2C framework and complex B2B relationships.

What’s more, the Authena Shield™ technology is a plug-and-play system that will not require significant IT efforts for implementation and upkeep.

However, this system does have its limitations. Among these, are the fact that no two businesses are exactly the same, and what might work for a competitor might not be the best choice for you. That is where partnering with a product authentication expert at Authena can help you pinpoint the best solution for your unique needs.

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