What Is Smart Packaging? Types, Benefits and Tips

What is smart packaging?

Packaging helps to protect products, convey important information and enhance branding. Smart packaging goes one step further with interactive technology that improves the customer experience. With more companies discovering the value of this technology, the smart packaging market will likely reach 38.3 billion US dollars by 2033 — that’s a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.5%.

Our guide will help you discover the different types of smart packaging and the benefits they offer your business. We also highlight some of the best tips for integrating these innovative packaging solutions within your processes.

What Is Smart Packaging?

Smart packaging features quick-response (QR) codes, barcodes or radio frequency identification (RFID) technology. These digital identifiers provide a convenient way for companies to track the location of a product within their supply chain. In addition, smart packaging enables customers to access valuable product details in real time.

Benefits of Smart Packaging

From large corporations to individual e-commerce sellers, businesses across all industries are leveraging smart packaging technology. Here are some of the most notable reasons why: 

  • Better product quality: Some companies ship products across state lines and country borders. Smart packaging maintains the product quality throughout transit, minimizing product loss. 
  • Improved inventory management: Barcodes, QR codes and RFID tags enable companies to track their inventory, ensuring warehouses have enough stock to meet demand. 
  • Product authenticity: Smart packaging allows customers to certify their products are genuine, ensuring greater peace of mind. In addition, brands use intelligent packaging to showcase a product’s journey and build customer trust. As 60% of online shoppers consider trustworthiness the most important brand feature, it is worth promoting transparency. 
  • Enhanced customer experience: With so many products on the market, brands need to offer the best customer experience to maintain their competitive edge. Enabling your customers to access useful online content, such as recipes, quizzes and tracking information, provides more value to consumers. 
  • Greater sustainability: Enabling clients to access additional product information online helps increase their awareness — without unnecessary paper printouts. Similarly, some smart packaging options are reusable, further minimizing your brand’s carbon footprint.

Types of Smart Packaging

There are primarily two types of smart packaging to suit various applications. After all, a tray of apples and an Apple iPhone will have vastly different packaging needs. Here’s a brief breakdown of the various types and their uses.

Active Packaging

Active packaging interacts with the contents of a package, helping to extend its shelf-life. It’s a popular option for food and beverages as these products are more susceptible to environmental conditions. An example of active packaging is fruit punnets with integrated ethylene absorbers. Some other common elements of active packaging include:

  • Light filtering materials
  • Oxygen absorbers
  • Moisture-control inserts
  • Antimicrobial coating

Intelligent Packaging

This type of smart packaging relies on intelligent sensors and indicators to provide status updates on a product. In other words, intelligent packaging communicates vital information such as the product’s temperature, storage time and if it’s been tampered with during transit.

One common type of intelligent packaging is time-temperature indicator labels. As the name suggests, these labels record the temperature of a food item or pharmaceutical product over time to ascertain its quality upon arrival.

Smart Packaging Applications

With abundant products on the market, there’s no limit to the number of smart packaging applications. Here are some of the most common uses:

  • Track and trace packaging: RFID technology helps brands and customers locate the position of a product within the supply chain.
Smart packaging labels
  • Smart labels: It’s not always possible to fit every product detail on a single piece of packaging. Smart labels allow customers to access additional information with QR codes or near-field communication (NFC) tags.
  • Security seals: These smart packaging solutions confirm that a product has not been tampered with during export. This is particularly beneficial to ensure product warranties.
  • Connected packaging: A QR code on packaging is a typical example of connected packaging. Customers use their mobile devices to scan these graphic design elements and gain access to a tailored digital experience. They’re likely to discover digital content such as review pages, interactive games and competitions.
  • Fresh food packaging: Packaging that ensures the quality of perishable products at each stage of the supply chain.
  • Reusable packaging: With more businesses striving for sustainability in their practices, reusable packaging is on the rise. These packaging solutions offer multiple uses and sometimes integrate technology to track their life spans.
  • Shelf life extension solutions: This smart packaging option helps transport products like antibiotics and other drugs to ensure their efficacy on arrival.

Tips for Adopting Smart Packaging

Whether you’re a long-established business or a start-up, smart packaging technology helps to streamline your operations. Use these tips for successful implementation. 

  • Add QR codes: QR code generators are widely available, making creating a unique smart code for your business easy. They offer a cost-effective way to transition your current packaging into smart packaging.
  • Leverage NFC tags: These intelligent functions are similar to QR codes, yet they offer larger data capacities for video content. Customers access product information by tapping their mobile devices to the NFC tag on your packaging.
  • Choose recyclable packaging: Many customers favor brands that follow sustainable practices, and recyclable packaging is one way to promote this value. Providing information on recycling or reusing your packaging enhances your corporate responsibility.
  • Track your data: Whether you use QR codes, RFID tags or another smart packaging technology, you must analyze the data you collect. These real-time customer insights will help you better understand your target audience and maximize your brand positioning. 

In the business world, adapting to new technology is beneficial and essential for your success. However, implementing technology like smart packaging doesn’t need to happen overnight. A final tip is to implement a trial where you use smart packaging in a segment of your business for a defined period. The data from your trial will help you determine the best way to embrace intelligent packaging across all sectors. 

Get Specialized Packaging From Custom Boxes Now

Smart packaging goes beyond providing protection and branding capabilities. It enables you to offer your customers more value and gain the data you need for continued success.

Custom Boxes Now helps customers in all industries create one-of-a-kind smart packaging solutions. As experts in structural design, we’ll work with you to determine the best packaging for your products. We’ll also help you optimize your existing artwork for printing, ensuring an eye-catching packaging solution that reflects your brand! Discover why customers choose us for customized boxes and packaging, or contact our team today for personalized support! 

Personalized smart packaging