In countries all across the EU and around the world, organisations are facing the continued fight against illicit products entering and moving throughout their supply chains. From pharmaceutical goods and cigarettes, to cosmetics, wine, spirits and luxury items, governments either have introduced, or are introducing, regulation of full traceability to track and trace the movements of these products. Whether this is for health and safety reasons; to ensure tax is correctly paid; or to give consumers, patients and customers confidence in knowing that everything they buy or use is 100% authentic, regulatory compliance is becoming an increasing imperative for manufacturers, resellers, distributors and retailers.

For many organisations, the reality is that achieving compliance puts constraints on operational efficiency and productivity. However, adopting a multi-phase approach to any compliance initiative can unlock significant potential for greater efficiency, productivity, and visibility. Sébastien Sliski, General Manager Collaborative Supply Chain Solutions at Zetes, explains how organisations can benefit from compliance by proactively using the data to transform it into intelligence and ultimately,  improve performance and customer engagement.

Better traceability

Data Intelligence

Every regulation provides clearly defined standards around the coding and marking of products with specific datasets that allow goods to be easily authenticated at every stage of the Supply Chain.  This means that every organisation and every actor in the supply chain knows what information they need to capture, how they need to publish it and that they must carry out processes in the exact same way. This ensures consistency and full traceability, which is key to compliance. 

Every regulation provides clearly defined standards around the coding and marking of products with specific datasets that allow goods to be easily authenticated at every stage of the Supply Chain.

With consistency comes the ability to gain a level of intelligence that is currently unattainable for most of organisations, due to the myriad of ways in which data is collected and the multitude of processes used. Cleaning up supply chain ecosystems, and the data within them, not only provides the essential capability to track & trace products for sustainability and authenticity, it also gives visibility of supply chain performance. Where are the bottlenecks? Are all the stakeholders in the supply chain collaborating in the right way? Are products being authenticated in markets where they shouldn't be?

Moreover, armed with supply chain intelligence, organisations can look to add in real time alerting based on key performance parameters, for management by exception and yet greater efficiency.

Consumer Insight

The introduction of a standards-based structure for barcoding data not only provides transparency within the supply chain, it offers organisations - manufacturers in particular - granular insight into their customer base. This is key not only to meet legislative demands globally for improved food / medicines safety but also to meet the demands of an environmentally aware consumer who wants clear information into ethical sourcing and provenance. The ability to share where an item has been grown or information about the people who were involved in its manufacture, provides a chance to appeal directly to those individuals actively looking to make more informed purchasing decisions.

Furthermore, analysis of the locations of customers authenticating their products will allow brands to flag issues with unlicensed cross border product distribution.

Partner Engagement

The opportunities of a digitised supply chain are significant, however, first and foremost, organisations will need to overcome the challenges of achieving regulatory compliance, whilst laying the foundation for growth.

With datasets including unique serial numbers, barcodes and holograms on individually packaged items, and aggregated batch-level pallets, a key consideration therefore is to identify a partner who can demonstrate clear understanding of the regulations and their immediate impact on day to day operations.

Any compliance initiative, for example, should maintain productivity in the first instance and offer a flexible and agile approach for business enhancement once the key elements of compliance are embedded within the ecosystem. 


Complying with large scale directives is a complex undertaking, however, working with established and experienced partners can help organisations break down many constraints - and more. An agile, phased approach will not only ensure compliance objectives are met without compromising existing productivity levels, it will also lay the foundation for wider operational and business benefits that go beyond the regulation and provide full traceability.

By approaching your compliance initiatives with a view to unlocking and digitising the key data within your supply chain ecosystem, organisations can become smarter, more sustainable and better able to identify and act on new business opportunities.

Sébastien Sliski, General Manager Supply Chain Solutions at Zetes


Learn more in our latest ebook on traceability in manufacturing