Tracking demands for e-commerce parcels are and other parcels are continuing to increase. A recent SOTI Bricks to Clicks report found that last-mile delivery remains the most inefficient part of the entire e-commerce supply chain for 59% of U.S. transportation and logistics companies. Yet for the consumer, that piece remains a critical part of the online buying experience.

A survey of 6,000 consumers by Arlington Research for mobile technology platform SOTI during Q4 2020 found that 67% of consumers said they wanted real-time visibility into the location of their Christmas gifts from the moment the online order was processed. Delays in delivery exceeding two days turned off 38% of consumers, who said they would look elsewhere for the product in those cases.

The Smart Label, developed by Sony and leveraging AT&T’s global cellular network, helps track packages and update shipment conditions, including temperature monitoring. (Photo: AT&T)

These same demands are infiltrating the business-to-business marketplace as well. While Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) is able to accurately track most packages down to the front porch, for most shipping companies – not just e-commerce brands – that level of visibility remains elusive or expensive. Sensors are one option, but even $1 added to the cost of tens of thousands of packages adds up quickly.

AT&T (NYSE: T) has unveiled a new solution that it believes can solve this problem.

The company, in work with Sony Semiconductor Israel (Sony), has launched a Smart Label that leverages Internet of Things (IoT) technology to track every package anywhere on the planet. The label features technology that once affixed to the parcel, activates tracking and other monitoring capabilities.

The Smart Label connects to AT&T’s secure LTE-M cellular network and sends data to the Smart Label cloud, powered by Sony’s cloud gateway, to enable decision-making and tracking while packages are in transit. AT&T’s IoT Professional Services Organization is able to support the entire process from design and integration to deployment and ongoing project management.

“All large enterprises in the world dealing with finished goods are seeking comprehensive functional and technical solutions to solve one of the top use cases: real-time channel inventory. “The Smart Label indicates how much product is in the market, from the packaging line to the end customer,” said Christof Backhaus, digital lead of product supply and Smart Label project lead at Bayer. “Due to the technical composition, we do not require any additional infrastructure, manual scanning or other expensive tools.”

Bayer Crop Science Division sought out AT&T and Sony for the project, looking for a way to track its agricultural seed products once they entered distribution channels.

“We are proud to take a leading position in revolutionizing the digital supply chain with a disruptive solution, utilizing Sony’s Altair low-power cellular IoT technology based on its ALT1250 chipset,” said Aviv Castro, vice president of business development, who is heading the Smart Label business at Sony Semiconductor Israel. “We created this solution in partnership with leading innovative producers of flexible electronics and printable batteries – increasing end-to-end transparency in the supply chain and making actionable decisions possible thanks to massive amounts of data.”

According to AT&T, the Smart Label has functionality in almost any business in which tracking and monitoring shipment location and condition are critical. This would include manufacturing, raw materials, consumer products, cars and trucks, logistics, electronics, pharmaceuticals, retail, health care, food and agriculture. The labels can help monitor temperatures, tampering and movement.


Read: Shipping speed, transparency continue to trip up e-commerce brands

Read: DTC logistics provider FlavorCloud seeks to demystify global networks for e-commerce brands

“Working with Sony, we are providing full visibility of every item shipped via the end-to-end integrated IoT Smart Label solution,” said Robert Boyanovsky, vice president of mobility, IoT and 5G for AT&T. “Smart Label promises to help businesses like Bayer realize the full potential of the IoT and global tracking to deliver improvements in revenue and cost savings and make their supply chains more efficient. Our sales team is prepared to engage with prospective customers now.”

Click for more Modern Shipper articles by Brian Straight.

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