Packaging industry professionals play a major role in supporting companies’ brand reputations by developing innovations to promote product security. A well-designed package offers protection during transit and aligns with a company’s image and values. However, it can also do much more by featuring thoughtful, high-tech features that bolster the product’s security.

Promote Visibility with Connected Sensors

What happens between when a package leaves the manufacturer or distribution center and arrives at a customer’s doorstep? The answer wasn’t always clear, but now it’s much easier to see. The progress is primarily due to Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, which tell manufacturers, logistics companies and others whether a parcel and its contents stay within the required temperature range, are handled roughly or become misdirected in transit.

Numerous companies have developed creative ways to apply the IoT to packaging. For example, one business model involves biodegradable container alarms that sound when packaging and relevant supplies start running low. People can also use a platform to track all the supplies currently in use or packages in transit. Another startup uses the IoT to simultaneously improve visibility and anti-counterfeit measures. All users can track parcels’ movements through the supply chain.

Discouraging Theft

In an era where “porch pirates” make it unwise to leave parcels on a customer’s doorstep, packaging professionals and others must evaluate the most feasible theft deterrents. One possibility is for the external packaging material to prominently feature phrases such as, “Warning: This package is monitored in real time to ensure security.” A neighborhood criminal planning to swipe an enticing and just-delivered parcel might think twice about going through with it.

Logistics companies could also increase customers’ peace of mind by allowing them to track parcels’ locations with IoT sensors. Many providers are already enhancing last-mile delivery with forward-thinking strategies. Some cities have lockers that keep items secure and allow couriers to streamline their workflows by delivering multiple packages to centralized places.

Improving Tracking and Customer Safety

Providing IoT functionality for customer tracking is a great way to increase satisfaction and tell people precisely when their goods arrive at lockers, doorsteps, office building reception desks or anywhere else. Reliable tracking via smart sensors also provides another type of product security.

Imagine if someone orders perishable goods and can look back through the IoT tracking history to verify the products stayed within the required temperature range. Some medicines can become ineffective due to spoilage. Additionally, people can get sick from food that tastes fine but is unsafe to eat due to bacterial contamination.

Many parcels go through multiple countries, states and supply chain partners before reaching their destinations. That creates product security risks by increasing the chances things could go wrong along those long, distant journeys. Fortunately, packages equipped with IoT sensors can remove or substantially reduce issues. Logistics professionals who get immediate feedback about potential problems can follow up with the supply chain partner to resolve the situation and prevent matters that could otherwise compromise product security and safety.

Protect Privacy and Emphasize Plainness

The internet has made it hassle-free for people to buy many things they might prefer not to shop for in person. Individuals would understandably prefer not to broadcast their purchases of goods that could violate their privacy, fuel the spread of rumors or cause other undesirable effects.

Some examples include:

Medical devices

Cannabis-related goods

Paternity test kits

Adult toys

Many companies now ship products in discreet packages, using generic options that give no clues about the contents or recipients. Additionally, some enforce security by requiring people to sign upon delivery. That ensures no one but the intended person gets the package. Creating a system where the recipient can add a signature using their finger on a tablet or smartphone is a practical way to digitize the delivery confirmations and maintain excellent recordkeeping practices.

Reducing Appeal

Sending items in plain packages is another theft deterrent. Suppose a sharp-eyed thief drives through a neighborhood and sees one box bearing a familiar name and logo and another with nothing on the exterior. The former choice is almost certainly more appealing because it sets the criminal’s expectations about the contents.

Radio frequency identification (RFID) tags are so small that they enable discreet monitoring of items people may otherwise be tempted to steal. Some art galleries equip pieces with RFID tags or labels that warn staff members if gallery patrons are trying to walk off with art in their bags. Similarly, some higher-value alcohol products at supermarkets often have small but effective security tags that cashiers must remove so customers don’t set off alarms by leaving with the goods.

Museums, art galleries, supermarkets and other locations full of valuable goods using bulky and immediately visible tracking technologies would detract from the products that require protection. People might inadvertently find their eyes drawn to the package’s security tag rather than the displayed items.

Packaging professionals have devised various targeted ways to enhance product security while creating few or no downsides. Consider a tamper-evident label on pharmaceutical packaging. It looks like a branded sticker and shows clear changes after someone opens it for the first time. The packaging will also show a residue if someone tries to remove and replace the label.

When would-be tamperers learn about the innovations behind such packaging, they’ll realize any attempts at product compromise are not worth trying. Consumers stay safer, and brand leaders get peace of mind by knowing that the choice of package retains security.

Packaging Innovations Support Product Security

Although packages can entice and inform potential purchasers, protect items in transit and increase items’ shelf appeal, they can also improve product security. Professionals who design and manufacture products should remain informed about trends that could impact their work and increase client interest.

Matching the packaging innovation to reflect the product type or its branding can also maintain security without adding downsides. Some barcodes feature artistic designs that look like blades of grass or otherwise fit with a brand’s style. The packaging design could work similarly, such as by blending QR codes or other identifiers into the graphics, making them less conspicuous.

Listening to client, customer and other stakeholder feedback is an excellent way to ensure modern packaging supports emerging needs — whether increased security or other requirements.

Emily Newton is the Editor-in-Chief of Revolutionized. She regularly covers trends in the industrial sector.