All great things start with a great idea. The idea could originate while lucid dreaming, walking through a crowded metro station, chilling with like-minded people, or even while watching television. The last is what happened with Nitin Gupta, CEO, NeuroTags, the startup solving the problem of counterfeit products and boosting its clients’ sales by helping them better understand consumer behaviour.
Nitin was watching a documentary on counterfeits when he realised how big the problem is. After some preliminary market research, he realised that there are diminutive digital solutions available in the market to tackle counterfeiting and these solutions are economically not viable for most manufacturers. This is what gave birth to NeuroTags.
NeuroTags, a company based out of California with its India base in Pune, is providing a two-fold solution to buyers and sellers. On the one hand, it provides anti-counterfeit solutions through its two-layer security, and on the other, it helps manufacturers understand consumer behaviour from the offline world through the use of advanced technologies like Blockchain, patent-pending algorithms, and artificial intelligence (AI).
“Our technology cost is based per item and since we use cloud infrastructure and have API-based solutions, our fee hardly adds any noticeable cost (to the client). In fact, the return, in terms of removing counterfeits from the market and increasing sales by automating warranty, loyalty, and referrals with the help of business intelligence (BI) is many times the cost of using the Neurotags,’’ says Yogesh.
The All-Pervasive Counterfeit: Giving Rise To NeuroTags
Yogesh emphasises,“Counterfeit is everywhere. And, because of ecommerce, it’s very easy for the counterfeiters to penetrate the main market.’’ Indeed, counterfeit is omnipresent. According to the World Health Organisation, one in every 10 medicines is falsified, which is an alarm call for the health industry, especially in developing and populous nations. According to the Global Brand Counterfeiting Report 2018, global counterfeiting is estimated to reach $1.82 trillion by 2020.
These numbers are a red flag for both sellers and consumers. But, with the growing technology and ecommerce boom, counterfeiting is only set to increase as falsification of products is getting increasingly sophisticated and is thus not easy to catch. This is where companies like NeuroTags come in to take the counterfeit burden off manufacturers.
Anti-Counterfeit Made Foolproof: The Technology That Gives NeuroTags An Edge
The traditional way of tackling counterfeit has been with the use of holograms, radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags, etc, but most of these technologies are easy to manipulate or provide partial protection.
This is where the two-layer protection by NeuroTags comes in to solve the problem. The company provides mathematically coupled open and protected tags. Open tags, as the name suggests, are visible on the product and can be scanned by anyone to get information on the product and are an indication of ‘authenticity with a certain probability.’
Once a product is purchased, the user has access to the protected tag, which is essentially the secret tag that confirms the authenticity of the product 100%. This tag may be protected by a scratch layer or kept inside the product seal. After scanning the protected tag the user gets the ‘authenticity information with certainty.’
Both the tags are connected and are protected by algorithms on the server in such a way that if anyone tries to replicate them, it gets detected by the system and the copied product gets invalidated.
Boosting Sales By Using Business Intelligence
Manufacturers, service providers, and retailers are increasingly seeking insights into consumer behaviour to boost sales and provide improved customer service. Most companies get these insights online, by understanding the web psychology of their customers. But it is still a challenge to understand offline customers — and India has a huge offline consumer base — owing to the vast differences in demographics, geography, culture, etc within the country. For instance, while Diwali in the north may require companies to boost their advertisements of certain products, Ugadi in South India might require something else. Yet, despite the cosmopolitan nature of our cities, there is no one-size-fits-all solution.
Apart from counterfeiting, this is an important area where Neurotags is helping its clients. When a user scans a NeuroTag on a product with his or her mobile device, the backend systems instantly tag the customer’s location. This, in turn, helps algorithms immediately showcase all the product options available through advertisements as well as local events information in that city, which enhances user experience and brands image.
“Brands can better understand the performance of their product lines by comparing scan and purchase behaviour across cities. Brands can also perform A/B testing and the effectiveness of their offline ads campaigns by just comparing the spike in scans. All this data helps companies to understand their customers and serve them better,’’ emphasises Abhishek.
NeuroTags also lets brands run loyalty programmes on their products. Once a user scans the protected tag, if it is linked to a warranty and/or a loyalty programme, users immediately get the option to enter his/her contact information to register for warranty and loyalty points. Users are also given the option to take a photo of the bill and upload it from their phone camera.
“For example, if you buy a product from a particular brand, you will accumulate loyalty points which you can use to get discounts on other products of the same brand. If the brand quality is good, you are most likely to buy from the same brand again, and can use the existing loyalty points and accumulate some more,’’ explains Abhishek.
The NeuroTags system manages all the details related to warranty information, loyalty programmes, and redemption process for its clients.
On A Mission To Make Products Anti-Counterfeit
Like in any other industry, NeuroTags too has competition, albeit small, from companies such as Sproxil. But its biggest challenge remains convincing manufacturers. “The biggest competition we face is the reluctance of some manufacturers to use digital solutions because they do not understand them and have less exposure to the benefits.’’ says, Nitin.
The reason for this is most manufacturers lack domain expertise in technology and there’s usually a high cost of acquiring, customising, and maintaining digital anti-counterfeit technology. However, NeuroTags tries to convince them by telling them that they don’t have to worry about the right technology, the cost is minimal, and always less than the RoI. NeuroTags also takes care of customisation and maintenance of the solutions, which are available 24×7 to the manufacturer’s consumers.
The startup aims to solve needs from the level of the individual consumer right through the entire supply chain, with tags for sellers and customers, direct printing, laser engravers for component and supply chain tracking and more. It already has Syska and Pure Drop as notable clients in its short journey.
“NeuroTags has helped us a big way in implementing anti-counterfeit and paperless warranty solution for our brand. They have a great technology, and the implementation & integration setup was really quick, Mr. Gurumukh Uttamchandani, Executive Director, SYSKA LED Lights Pvt Ltd.”
NeuroTags is seeing a good response for its anti-counterfeit solutions and paperless warranty from product design departments of various companies, and in its customised product showcase (geo-based landing screens) and loyalty programme solutions from the marketing departments of companies.
“We see Neurotags playing a major role in making the world free of fakes and counterfeits. Also, the data collection and analytics from Neurotags will change the landscape for non tech-savvy manufacturers to compete with the top technology equipped companies,” signs off Nitin.