Blockchain lets packages communicate with the web: Gaurav Jalan

“The dynamics of packaging are changing. Now, people are seeking sustainable options,” Gaurav Jalan, founder of Packman Packaging, tells Aultrin Vijay. He shares the latest trends in packaging and how the industry could leverage from blockchain ...

10 May 2022 | By Aultrin Vijay

Please tell us about Packman and its operations in India
The company was initiated in 2002 as Swastik Packaging, and later changed its brand name to Packman Packaging. We operate from Greater Noida, New Delhi, and in several cities in India, due to the franchise-based models.

What are the latest trends in packaging, both offline and eCommerce?
The dynamics of packaging trends are changing rapidly everywhere. Now, people are looking for more sustainable options. However, the packaging trends that are visible currently are digital printing, sustainability and eco-friendly packaging, personalised packaging, and clean and transparent labels.

Almost all brands are scrambling to make their packaging sustainable and circular. How is Packman addressing this?
Packman has already started working on it and has been manufacturing sustainable packaging products for a long time. Corrugated boxes were already our top product. They are sustainable, as they can be recycled and reused. Similarly, instead of plastic bags, Packman has been producing paper and jute-made bags for a long time, because recycling plastic bags is a big issue. Besides, Packman also manufactures packaging boxes made of kraft papers. These are some of the steps that Packman has been following to address sustainable packaging.

Any new products in the pipeline?
As of now, no new products are there in the pipeline. Currently, the focus is more towards recovery of the business, which had suffered during the pandemic.

Any plans for new investments or expansion?
Packman is looking to expand the franchise model across India. And that is one area where we are working day and night.

What is digitised packaging and how to use it to entice online buyers?
Digitised packaging is one that is made using digital technology, 3D software, printed electronics, and digitally controlled manufacturing protocols. It is a packaging that features connected technology such as QR codes, augmented reality, and phone scanning. Online functions such as 3D animations and computer-formed imagery (CGI), 360 product views, zoom features, and video assist create rich, immersive product experiences. These are good enough to entice online buyers.

With eCommerce booming, there have been changes in the packaging design, which now needs shelf appeal along with “screen appeal”. What elements are key to striking that balance?
Good packaging consists of several elements that need to win customers’ attention. It needs proper labelling and branding. The package must display the information clearly. Colour and graphics play a huge role, thus implement them properly as per your brand. And give a personalised look to the packaging that a customer can relate with.

According to you, which are the sectors that have started adopting green packaging heavily? What are the reasons?
As of now, several sectors including FMCG, eCommerce, food and beverage, and healthcare sectors have started implementing green packaging heavily and the reasons were multiple, one of them being government guidelines. Apart from that, customers are more focussed on giving priority to those products that are environmentally friendly. End users do not just look at a company’s revenue or reputation. Nowadays, buyers put emphasis on those companies that are equally concerned about securing nature as well.

What is the impact of blockchain in the packaging industry?
Blockchain technology might be closely linked with cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin, but the technology is also having a good effect on the supply chain. Packagers use blockchain to enhance package tracking, boost security, and better accommodate the call for supply chain transparency.

Blockchain is a decentralised distributed ledger using a peer-to-peer (P2P) network, letting users add “blocks” logging actions and transactions. There could be several ways how blockchain might affect the packaging industry. It is estimated that there could be three areas where the packaging industry could feel the impact of blockchain – tracing and tracking packages, facilitating consumer awareness, and safeguarding brands from counterfeit production.

It is believed that blockchain technology is poised to have a rapid adoption rate, as advances seem to make it simpler to access the technology. Historically, keeping tabs on packages depended on physical paperwork and security measures traveling with the products. Blockchain alters the paradigm, letting packages communicate with the web, end-users, and the supply chain itself.

Instead of packing slips and bills, serial numbers, barcodes, RFID, additional security features, and other steps are now used to convey authenticity. As technology continues producing capabilities, QR codes and smartphones are also greatly doing direct engagement between buyers and product packaging.

Product packaging serves several functions. One of its most vital roles in informing consumers. As the call for broader transparency continues gaining momentum, consumers’ urge for product knowledge and provenance seems unquenchable. It is believed that as many as 50% of buyers want more information about the products they purchase. Responding to the consumer mandate, blockchain is boosting labelling data, making more opportunities for manufacturers to connect with buyers.

Further, Blockchain adds efficient traceability of packaging to food supply chains. In supply chain applications it could also be used on the packages to communicate electronic data interchange (EDI) codes and more.

Tracking the origins of food-borne illness once took days or even weeks, it can now be checked almost instantaneously just by scanning a barcode or QR code. It is also worth noting that with blockchain, records can never be tampered retroactively, which means the entire information on the ledger is by default authenticated.