By Lee Patty, NiceLabel Americas
One might not realize it, but the labels on a product play one of the biggest roles when deciding whether to buy it or not. In fact, it’s likely one of the first things you see but often don’t think much about. They convey critical information like cost, instructions, warnings and what we can expect to find inside the packaging. This makes them an invaluable tool for end users trying to learn more about a product, and of course, making a purchasing decision. But labels are also crucial in manufacturing, logistics and the supply chain because they contain necessary information to manufacture, track and process goods.
As Auto ID Channel partners are familiar with, a label ensures a product is traceable, compliant and identifiable. On an automated production line, for instance, a reliable label is a necessary part of the assembly process. The label is also necessary to identify and track items during all stages of the journey to and from factories, to distribution centers or customer locations. But ensuring the best labeling technology and processes are in place comes with a few hurdles individual businesses must overcome.
Common Challenges With Labeling
Labels are a necessity for countless industries – from automotive to retail, pharmaceutical, healthcare, food & beverage, electronics, manufacturing, transport/logistics and much, much more. But when trying to maintain accurate and up-to-date labels, there are many common challenges a company can face regardless of industry, such as ensuring compliance, quality and accuracy. Achieving these goals requires handling massive amounts of data, guaranteeing the best procedures are adhered to for tracking and updating labels and making sure the technology simply works.
Failing to properly manage labels on outdated tools is an expensive mistake waiting to happen. However, labeling often goes unnoticed and functions behind the scenes until something goes wrong. This mentality often leaves organizations with legacy barcode and RFID labeling practices and software that fails to meet the needs of changing business requirements.
Another issue results from siloed workflows. It’s common for each factory, distribution center, or other facility in an enterprise to create its own labels for manufacturing, inventory control, shipments, and other processes. This type of sprawl leads to a system that supports a multitude of label templates and increases inconsistencies. As a result of this disorganization, confusion arises and, ultimately, customers can become dissatisfied.
Digitally Transforming Labeling
The term digital transformation has become commonplace in the business community. While the exact meaning of the term can vary depending on industry and solution, the crucial elements remain the same — it’s about digitizing infrastructure and processes and using technology to streamline operations, improve processes, and increase ROI.
When considering label management, this means implementing a modern label management system so data can be stored, traced and updated in a central location. This makes collaborating on label designs from any location simpler, while ensuring that all label updates are saved and tracked in a central repository.
When a method for producing labels becomes standardized across an entire enterprise, the whole organization can automate quality assurance and ultimately produce higher quality labels while making design and printing processes much nimbler. Additionally, one of the most nefarious pain points, human error, is taken out of the equation because manual label change and approval processes are replaced with digital quality assurance workflows. There’s also an audit trail of all labels detailing who made changes and when they were made. This guarantees the ability to track labels and meet compliance standards.
Complex legacy labeling systems, which may utilize tools like hard coded label templates or forms design software, may also overly depend on the IT department, which makes simple tasks like completing label change requests a time consuming and costly process. To help solve this issue, a centralized and standardized label management system simplifies the user interface and makes it more intuitive. This empowers different business users to access the system in a timelier manner, reducing bottlenecks, eliminating downtime and saving costs.
Additionally, some intelligent systems can integrate with a wide array of hardware and applications. For instance, the software can be compatible with a number of printers, regardless of manufacturer. This lowers costs and enables a more seamless implementation.
Labeling Challenges For The Channel Community
The business of selling label printers, supplies, label design software and repair services is mature and margins are under severe challenges. Reseller channel partners struggle to sell value. End users buy on price. Channel partners can’t invest in the expertise needed to support and sell complex label printing solutions.
However, end users continue to demand expertise from their suppliers. If a channel partner can add value to a client’s business by helping the client achieve cost reductions and greater efficiency within their labeling process, the channel can become a vital resource and a trusted business partner. Now there is the opportunity for channel partners to transform labeling digitally with a configurable label management system. It doesn’t require huge investment in new technology, but it does enable the channel partner to deliver the benefits that clients need at a healthy margin, while engaging clients in a long term, profitable relationship.
Advantages Of A SaaS-Based Label Management System
Implementing a SaaS-based digitized label management system is an effective way for the channel to introduce advantages such as lowered costs, decreased errors, minimized downtime and enhanced agility to its customer base. Additionally, an integral component to the SaaS model is that a cloud-based label management system can be sold as a subscription service. This means customers don’t have to make massive capital expenditures and partners are safeguarded from negotiations that involve large initial start-up costs. Other benefits of the SaaS model are that the channel is assured of a repeating revenue stream, there is a lower total cost of ownership and the customer can gain from a solution that is future proofed and scalable.
Ensuring The Channel Benefits From Label Management Solutions
Digitally transforming labeling operations provides immense benefits to the end user.
However, those working in the channel must find a software manufacturer partner that is committed to the channel’s profitability and growth, as well as end user satisfaction. Channel partners are choosing the software manufacturer partners who help them evolve from a label printer reseller to a value-adding labeling solutions provider. These software manufacturer partners offer channel partners the opportunity to develop and secure recurring revenue streams and significantly better margins without the need for high up-front investment. That adds up to more value per project, and more profit to the bottom line.
About The Author
Lee Patty is VP and General Manager at NiceLabel Americas. In this role, Lee oversees the company’s sales, project delivery and operations in the Americas. Prior to NiceLabel, he cofounded Niceware International, LLC, a NiceLabel distributor, where he was responsible for marketing, healthcare product development and professional services. NiceLabel acquired Niceware in 2013, adding Lee to the global executive team. Lee has over 20 years of AIDC industry experience and also has held sales, marketing and technical roles at Brady Corporation and Innovatec Communications.