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Getting to know your customers part 2: There’s a whole ocean of data right under our feet.

Auto replenishment through connected packaging is here. More and more manufacturers and packaging companies are seeing the opportunity to change their business models, using connectivity
and powerful new platform services to make their products into a service. Auto-replenishment
carries many benefits, including the opportunity to increase direct sales, customer loyalty, and in the
case of Vesta Smart Packaging, a proved solution to help reduce the reliance on long life materials
(plastics!) in your packaging, delivering greater sustainability, increased environmental credentials,
enhancing brand value.

There is another benefit, and that’s data. Lots and lots of data.

It has been widely written that “data is the new oil”. It was a catchy expression, and did serve to
highlight the power and value of data in a global and increasingly digitised economy. Like most
catchy sayings though, it was superficial and falls apart quickly under scrutiny.
With reference to packaging , one critical way in which data is decidedly not the new oil is this : data
gets more valuable the more you use it.

There is no limit on how often you can use data or for how long. At the most basic level you can start
to ask questions not possible until now, and historical tracked data sets also have predictive power
that gets better and better the more data you have. Imagine how your business might be
transformed if you knew :

  • Who are my customers?
  • Which products do they have and how much?
  • When will they run out?

Yet we can move past the basics quickly. The more you use data, the more valuable it gets and even
at Vesta, and the data from Vesta packaging supports innovation in several key areas:

  • Personalisation – what do your customers like to use as individuals
  • Adherence – help your customers use your products well
  • Efficiency – how can your customers get the most from your products

Not all auto-replenishment will be created equal, so what should you look when looking for your
auto-replenishment partner? How their offering satisfies these questions could make the difference

  1. Who retains exclusive ownership of the data?
  2. Who has direct and ongoing access to the customer?

Vesta gives you both of these, as well being your partner for our primary objective. We work to
support your transition away from long life packaging by making your supply chain more efficient. If
you’d like to know more about how – get in touch at info@vestapack.com or message me directly
through LinkedIn.

Make it smart, not disposable

Lessons from big tech can help packaging and FMCG meet the demands of doing business in an environmentally conscious world

Last week, British MPs (politicians, for any non-UK reader) took the unusual step of rebuking Amazon and Apple for their part in the UK’s electronic waste problem, singling out the ‘built in obsolescence’ of products, encouraging regular upgrades. To put the problem into perspective, around 155,000 tonnes of phones, cameras, laptops and other similar items is thrown out each year. That’s about 1,500 average sized houses for those, like me, who have trouble imagining that much waste.

Given their position at the forefront of the never-ending revolution in technology, shouldn’t we find it remarkable that two of the world’s biggest and most successful technology companies’ business models are based on selling items that are viewed as consumables, when their components are anything but?

It’s not just famous technology companies which are going to need to handle this conundrum. How do you protect your business when your customers’ buying behaviour is starting to be affected by their views on environmental cost? FMCG and packaging companies are among the most vulnerable to this. A critical measure of their success is based on how many packages they put out into the world, a world which is becoming rapidly intolerant of more pollution.

Vesta Smart Packaging’s offering can help packaging companies and manufacturers transform their operations by decoupling revenue from the number of packages produced. Our proven smart packages and platform create an effective ‘just in time’ model that drives efficiency, helping to increase margins, whilst eliminating the need for harmful long-life plastics.  Furthermore, it provides a valuable data set showing product supply and usage that can be separately monetised. Potentially a game-changing position.

That the answer for packaging comes from technology might seem surprising. Adding more technology to packaging might seem like exactly the wrong thing to do in this situation, but we don’t have to follow the example of the tech giants in order to run a successful business that helps to minimize environmental impact. Vesta packages, unlike phones, have battery lives of up to 20 years, can be refilled hundreds of times and don’t require constant upgrades. At the end of their lives, we are 100% committed to recovering, refurbishing and recycling every single part of them.

A radical re-think is required in how products get to consumers, whilst retaining brand market share and tackling the waste problem. If you’re a packaging company or a manufacturer which is ready to think differently, get in touch on info@vestapack.com or via LinkedIn

A 2 year update

Having looked back at our blogs, I was startled to see we’ve published nothing since February. For Vesta, as for businesses everywhere, the pandemic has had a profound impact. Much of the focus on plastic pollution has been lost in an effort to maintain the global economy – a justifiable, if dreadful trade off. Some 194bn disposable masks and gloves were being made each month (based on an estimate from August). The environmental impact of this may take some years to fully comprehend.
It has now been almost exactly two years since we started Vesta in earnest. Winning a space on the 2019 IoT Startupbootcamp accelerator was the catalyst for moving the company from an interesting idea to something that Vesta’s founders (me, Elisabeth, Web Dave and Dr Dave) were ready to heavily invest our time, money and effort into establishing as a real company.
The great news is we’re in a stronger position than ever as we run into the end of what must have been one of the most challenging trading years in history. A few highlights:

  • Our client base has grown from one to four. We’ve focused on driving sales into large clients, and our client’s annual revenues exceed $100bn
  • Our revenue is on track to grow by a factor of more than ten in 2020 – achieving the fabled ‘10x’. This revenue growth helped us decide to pause our funding round in February, and pay ourselves for the first time this summer. We may well decide to try and raise again in the future, but we’re strong enough now to wait for the right partners in the right market conditions.
  • The technology in our solution is unrecognisable from what we were delivering at this time last year. Our packages now support short range communications technology (NFC/RFID) and we’re able to handle packages with weights anywhere between 50kg and 0.01g.
  • Our use cases are expanding. Vesta was designed for low interest home care products – dishwasher tablets, detergent etc. – but we’re now working in personal care, food & beverage, wholesale and are talking to pharmaceutical companies about using our technology for drug monitoring and adherence.
  • We’re developing partnerships with traditional packaging and logistics companies to bring a more comprehensive Vesta solution to our customers.
  • We have had a Vesta package in market for 12 months (as of October 30th). It has taken readings on more than 270 days, been refilled over half a dozen times and used just 3% of its battery. Considering how far our technology has come in those 12 months, I am really excited to see what the next generation Vestas can do.

Challenging conditions, such as those we’ve all experienced over the last eight months can often make it seem like investing in transformation and innovation is too much of a risk. The pandemic has changed the way business is done, perhaps forever. Yet consumers want convenience, they are ready to pay for sustainably delivered products and the market for direct-to-consumer has never been stronger. Do get in touch if you’d like to understand more about what Vesta can do to help your business.
Tom