As fashion and retail recover from the tumultuous events of 2020, a sharp focus on the fashion supply chain has emerged. And as companies retool and recalibrate, the longstanding issue of transparency is at the top of their agenda.
That’s why technology firm Avery Dennison is tackling supply chain transparency—and its new connected product cloud, atma.io, is a wholly unique platform primed for a market that is looking for disruptive technologies that can enable end-to-end digital transformation.
The firm globally known as a leader in digital ID and RFID technologies centered its focus on supply chain visibility to address an age-old problem for modern brands and consumers seeking sustainability, transparency and circularity.
Demand for product visibility has undoubtedly increased: Consumers may be willing to pay up to 10 percent more for products from companies that provide greater supply chain transparency, according to researchers at the MIT Sloan School of Management. And for brands, transparency can help raise the visibility of operational initiatives to help improve the company-at-large: The same study said that consumers valued information about the treatment of workers throughout a product’s supply chain, and in effect, would champion the seller’s efforts to improve working conditions.
For Avery Dennison, the solution is atma.io: a cloud-based platform that creates, assigns and manages unique digital identities that persist throughout the value chain for any physical item. Named after the Sanskrit word for “soul,” its clever epithet feels apropos.
The company’s solution is highly creative. “atma.io completely reimagines how supply chains operate, how brands connect with individual consumers, and how global organizations can achieve their sustainability and transparency goals,” the firm said. Essentially, it hands businesses and brands the reins of the supply chain and concurrently informs consumers of highly relevant product data that was previously inaccessible.
To date, atma.io manages more than 10 billion unique items and adds over 50 new connected products to its platform every second.
“Our approach enables us to combine the best of two worlds: Be nimble and leverage the scale and staying power of a global corporation,” said Max Winograd, vice president, connected products, Avery Dennison. “Flexible and agile, atma.io is built on the shoulders of giants, benefiting from Avery Dennison’s Fortune 500 global footprint, pioneering research and development, expertise, and reliability. ”
Easing market pains
The atma.io platform alleviates the “market pain” of supply chains using different digital triggers such as QR codes, ultra-high frequency RFID or near-field communication (NFC). “[Our solution] enables all item-level data to be connected in one end-to-end platform. We now believe that what we are bringing to market is the first solution of its type anywhere and will finally bring the end-to-end supply chain visibility that organizations and consumers have been asking for.”
And already, atma.io has been creatively integrated by global brands such as adidas, with its initiative called ‘Infinite Play.’ The adidas Infinite Play program allows consumers to sell products back to the brand.
“Each individual adidas product is tagged with a digital trigger and is associated with a unique digital identity stored in the atma.io connected product cloud,” Winograd said. “The unique item-level information that atma.io manages makes it possible for leading brands like adidas to achieve their sustainability goals, give already-sold products a second life, and empower consumers to participate in the circular economy.
“Our platform enables companies to track on a very rudimentary level which raw materials are used for production and capture the full genealogy of their products.” Max Winograd, vice president, connected products, Avery Dennison
Technology talk aside, atma.io is conceptually unique because of its cohesive, elegant simplicity. “atma.io has the widest suite of use cases in the market, covering the true end-to-end journey from raw materials to the consumer—and all the way back,” Winograd said. “atma.io’s product design philosophy makes the solution modular and interoperable with any existing business infrastructure, giving flexibility for the business owners to use the platform that truly speaks to their specific needs at the moment, and expands their use of it as they find new ways for it to benefit the business.”
Winograd added that atma.io’s app store will enable brands to tap into “an ecosystem” of applications to unlock every connected product use case imaginable. “We are encouraging and incentivizing developers and partners to build on top of atma.io’s end-to-end platform and tap a new channel for mutual growth,” he explained.
atma.io’s traceability features extend far beyond the ability to track finished goods across the supply chain, Winograd said. “Our platform enables companies to track on a very rudimentary level which raw materials are used for production and capture the full genealogy of their products. Also, we enable brands to capture and track the carbon footprint for each product individually.”
But “item-level visibility,” as Avery Dennison refers to it, is not yet a globally recognized term—and the firm believes that unique digital IDs for everyday items are the way of the future. “We are going to enable organizations to join up their supply chains as never before. With this visibility and control comes limitless possibilities,” Winograd said. “The end goal is offering transparency and a more sustainable and connected world.”
Unique digital IDs indeed raise visibility throughout a brand’s supply chain—and, they simultaneously inform consumers of insights and data that have historically never been gathered, or readily available.
“By making each product and the raw materials that go into it uniquely identifiable and fully traceable, it will engender best practices throughout the supply chain and give businesses and their consumers greater insights than ever before,” Winograd said. “By giving every product a unique digital ID, you gain increased visibility across your supply chain, and brands can keep control of how and where their products are sold and be able to provide the origin assurance that today’s consumers expect.”
“Businesses can start small and scale up quickly,” he added. “By activating specific modules and leveraging our pay-per-event pricing, they can tap into a platform for learning, experience rapid time to value, and have the flexibility to turn on new connected product use cases seamlessly.”
atma.io’s beauty is in its breadth—its technology applies to any company or industry—even inclusive of perishable products. “Also in industries like beauty, food and pharma, brands can efficiently tackle the logistics of perishable goods,” Winograd said. “A unique digital ID for every product enables brands to keep track of each item—when it was produced and when it is going to approach its ‘Best-Before’ or ‘Use-By’ date, so there is a huge potential to reduce waste and enable faster, targeted recalls for damaged goods.”
Winograd explained that atma.io has a distinctive ability to connect sensors that monitor a product for issues such as temperature, humidity, weight, etc., with a product’s item-level track-and-trace history. That means atma.io can map the end-to-end status of a product’s condition and generate real-time alerts if a condition is outside of acceptable parameters, Winograd said. “This more granular level of condition visibility and real-time notification enables supply chains to be proactive instead of reactive and achieve more accurate resolution.”
atma.io, naturally, is prized for its enabling of product circularity. “atma.io is going to empower organizations with true transparency and from this comes sustainability,” Winograd said. “For instance, transparency means new relationships with suppliers that go into a high level of granularity about how goods are made.”
Granularity, in the case of atma.io, means that brands are held more accountable “to uphold the highest standards and source materials sustainably,” Winograd said. “By giving each product a ‘digital birth certificate’ it will mean more re-use and recycling of products, again contributing to sustainability. This is just the beginning, as the use of atma.io grows and developers build new apps for the platform, new sustainability initiatives will launch that we haven’t thought of yet.”