IOT Shipping Label Concept

Overview

Based on an observation that package tracking and rerouting is still a big pain point for many people, I created a product concept that could be used by, for example, UPS (FedEx, USPS, or even retailers like Amazon) involving a new kind of smart shipping label. Such a shipping label would add a new level of detail to shipment tracking, and make package rerouting easy. Prototyping the system is pretty straightforward, but I wasn't able to get a green light before I left Ogilvy.

how it works

A flexible, low-power e-ink screen (i.e. Amazon Kindle) displays the shipping label. It only requires power when the content on the screen changes. The label content itself is identical to current shipping labels. GPS provides realtime location data, and a cellular data connection reports the data to the user. The user interacts with the package via a mobile app with two primary features:

  1. Uber-like realtime map view of package(s) in transit
  2. Form to update shipping address for rerouting

When the package is delivered, the label is decommissioned and can be reused or returned.

Delivery estimates would be dynamic and very accurate. Imagine a UPS truck full of packages with these labels. The central system would be able to estimate delivery based on the amount of packages in the truck, delivery routes, and traffic. Users could more accurately plan their schedule around when they know the package will be delivered versus when the think it might be delivered.

Package rerouting wouldn’t require any additional processing at the shipping facility. As soon as a user realizes that a package needs to be rerouted, she simply updates the shipping address in the app. The next time the package is scanned, it gets routed correctly.

additional features and benefits

  • This system doesn’t require UPS to change anything about how they currently operate. Current shipping labels are forward compatible with this system.
  • An accelerometer can be added to the label to report if the package has been mistreated, and if so, where, when and by whom.

Launching the label

The label can be launched via a viral video, similar to how Amazon introduced drone delivery. Then, select writers and Amazon users would be able to select a smart label at checkout and be driven to download the app. 

A flexible e-ink screen displays the shipping label

A flexible e-ink screen displays the shipping label

Current shipping label technology can be integrated into the smart label

Current shipping label technology can be integrated into the smart label

The embedded system can be prototyped with the Spark Electron from Particle.io

The embedded system can be prototyped with the Spark Electron from Particle.io