Smart Packaging in eCommerce

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Millions of people across the globe receive, purchase, and create packages every single day. From food packaging to beauty packaging, each packaging has a unique need for their materials and performance. As 2020 keeps moving along, so does the introduction of custom, smart packaging inventions. 

But what is “smart” packaging? A highly technical solution for specific uses. Smart packaging implements Sensors to tell you if your food has gone bad. These tech-enabled, reusable boxes are just some of what’s ahead. See what else is in store for the perfect pairing of smart technology and the eCommerce industry.

New Types of Smart Packaging

While smart packaging is seemingly still in the early ages of adoption throughout the industry as a whole, many companies are eagerly looking to implement these new materials into their products; and for good reason. These innovations can drastically change the way we approach packaging, both sustainably and practically! And though new variations are on the horizon, what we’ve seen so far is incredibly impressive.

The Box

From E Ink and LivingPackets, The Box is one of the recent products to emerge in smart packaging. It’s a reimagining of the shipping cases we know and love, and the changes could dramatically shift how things are done. 

According to Packaging Digest, some of the features include a ruggedized exterior to last up to 1,000 trips and digital ink labels that only use power to change information and not maintain it – a great way to run on low power. This also gives users the ability to apply new shipping labels, right on the device itself. Even further, The Box will include sensors to track temperatures, humidity, and shocks, as well as a completely customizable interior to eliminate any additional plastic or other packing materials. The coolest part? Because The Box includes an internet connection and smartphone app built-in, all of the data can be accessed on your phone. And this could mean big things for how goods are sent to us. 

According to Alexander Cotte, CEO of LivingPackets says, “We can see The Box as the foundation for a circular ecosystem, which means a dramatic shift from one-way deliveries to a more sustainable model.” And because it’s a service, eCommerce companies will only pay for using them – saving on traditional packaging purchasing costs like cardboard boxes. Plus, the display by E Ink means that even more convenient services can be integrated depending on a company’s needs. But we can’t help but ask…what’s in the box?

Wireless Chargers Turned Induction Heating

If you have a wireless charging pad adorning your desk, you may be surprised to learn what Inductive Intelligence thinks they should also be used for and how it relates to packaging – especially single-serve items. According to Greg Clark, Co-founder, and CEO, “This is about sitting at the intersection of those two trends and delivering a consumer experience that’s more convenient, consistent, safe, and sustainable.” But how exactly do the two relate? Imagine if you could heat up your lunch on the same device that charges your phone. 

By combining food and beverage packaging with loT technology, your package of food and the induction heating device can communicate directly to each other. And in explaining how it works, Clark said, “The package requires two things to work, data and metal. The data comes in the form of radio-frequency identification (RFID) or Near Field Communication (NFC) tag, which tells the device exactly how to heat the product. The package, in turn, is telling the device about the heating progress based on a temp sensor in the tag. In the case of cans and flexible foil packaging, there is enough metal in the existing package to heat the product.  In the case of paper, plastic, and glass, a metal insert needs to be added to the package either in the base or in the cap.” 

They hope to have the solution be 100% recyclable which, if done, could mean a huge step in a more sustainable way of living. According to Clark, using the package for heating with low-medium inductive power is roughly 90% more efficient than a traditional microwave. It also eliminates the mess, helps with portion control, and may increase the consumption of shelf-stable foods by the ease of use. Hot stuff, indeed!

Shelf Life Indicators

It’s immensely disappointing when you go to grab an ingredient from your pantry or fridge, only to realize that it’s gone bad before you could use it. And it’s even more frustrating when you feel like you just purchased it days before! But, what if we told you that not knowing could be a thing of the past thanks to a new packaging technology? A food sensor, developed by scientists and engineers at Imperial College London, can tell you everything you need to know through an app on your phone before you’ve even purchased the item. 

BlakBear, a company formed by the ICL scientists, in partnership with TPG Rewards has developed a cheap alternative to “best by” dates and it costs only 2 cents apiece. By printing a cheap sensor on cellulose paper customers can track ammonia levels because food emits nitrogenous gases as they spoil. All that a consumer would need to do is download the app and scan the code on the outside of the product to see exactly how much shelf life is left. And the CEO of BlakBear, Mac Grell, says the invention is ready for trials in the U.S., Asia, the UK, and all of Europe – and they’re continuing to research and improve upon their product and its capabilities. We’ll be scanning the shelves awaiting this amazing technology!

Pioneer Packaging

We know that packaging needs are constantly evolving, and we are committed to exceeding all of your expectations at Pioneer Packaging! Our state-of-the-art facilities offer a broad range of packaging products, from corrugated boxes to foam and chipboard. We also can’t wait to see what new, sustainable materials become available as even more smart packaging solutions are invented! Contact us today to partner with Pioneer Packaging.

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