Barcodes, Colour and branding, Communications, Labels, Shrink Sleeves

Although it isn’t always visible, the product identification landscape is changing quickly, right in front of us.

Take UPC codes, for example. They’ve been around for a long time. As long as many of us have been alive. But the good old Universal Product Code is now making way for a wave of futuristic product identification innovations. Driving this wave is the customer’s stronger requirement for transparency, the supply chain’s need for greater accuracy as well as everybody’s need to get more value out of a given product. How about a couple of examples of these innovations?


The SmartLabel initiative which, thanks to a QR code allows customers to access vast amounts of online information about ingredients, origin, nutrition allergens and more. Did you know that all of Unilever’s food and personal care products, totalling about 1800 SKU are now SmartLabel ready?

GS1 databar barcodes

Many retailers are now transitioning away from standard Universal Product Code numbers to item-specific unique UPC codes. These GS1 databar codes provide information such as item batch numbers, expiry dates, and other attributes. They also increase traceability.

Without necessarily aiming to be at the cutting edge of technology, it would be wise to consult with a specialist to make sure your company isn’t missing out on a technology it could implement and could profit from.

The need for a product identification strategy

It could be argued that any company that doesn’t carefully plan its Identification strategy will be left behind in these vast changes. Not convinced? Ask yourself these questions:

  • Are you making the most out of your package’s real estate by highlighting the information that is most valuable to customers? Is your packaging highly organized and visually impactful?
  • Do you have the necessary and most sought after certifications on your packaging? The kind that inspire trust and convert customers, such as CSA, UL, the recycling label, Energy Star® and others?
  • If your distribution partner or major customer suddenly needed a change to your packaging that involved adding information, changing the layout or the format of your packaging, would you be able to do so quickly and cost-effectively?

We at IMS can help you answer these questions. We’re product identification specialists. From Branding to Production, we can help you through these exciting changes and on to a more profitable future.