Faster Product Recalls: How To Reach More Customers

Eric Somitsch

There is nothing more disruptive to a manufacturer than dealing with a quality issue. Production lines come to a screeching halt if the severity of the problem could cause the product to injure a customer. This situation is especially true for products that cause immediate harm such as cars, toys, pharmaceutical products, and especially food/beverage products. In the United States, about 2 million illnesses occur annually caused by contaminated poultry and meat products that reach consumers’ plates, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts.

For manufacturers, the best case scenario is that the problem is discovered before one product gets sent out. Unfortunately, safety and health issues could take days, weeks, months, and even years before they are discovered.

The complexities of consumer recalls

Once a product problem is discovered, informing the public is a top priority. Yet again, as a manufacturer, you can run into a roadblock. Reaching as many customers as you can has become a daunting task, since sometimes there is no way of knowing how many products have been sold or used. Also, finding a means to contact people about the recall requires a concentrated effort.

Most manufacturers normally post product recalls on the main company website. You may also issue recall information to the media and through print media. Local, state, and federal governments may become involved either through contact from the manufacturer, through other government organizations, or by discovering the product issue during inspections of the manufacturer’s facility. They then will issue a press release, hold a news conference, and post the recall on their website. Yet not all recalls are announced to the general public.

Even if you post the information online and talk about it in the media, there still may be people who miss the recall alert. They may be at work during the hours when the news is on television or at home watching a different channel. They may also have no reason to visit the manufacturer’s website for product updates or visit any online sites where they will learn about the recall.

In these instances, you need a better way of reaching out to customers. A more direct method of communication can lower the risks of people using unsafe products. You can provide information on how a customer should return the product or how to get a refund. Other times, you can provide emergency instructions in case they use a defective product and become injured or eat a food that makes them sick, such as instructing them to go to the emergency room or see their doctor immediately.

Product registration platforms streamline the emergency recall process

What would you say if there was a central platform where you can connect with consumers who have purchased your products? With this central platform, you can immediately send out information about a particular batch of items that have quality issues. This information can go to the person’s email or be sent via SMS to their mobile devices. You could even use push notifications through company mobile apps or through app messaging systems such as WhatsApp.

Through this platform, you could provide all the information that the person needed to deal with the defective product. Your company can tell people how to return products to stores where they were purchased. You can also warn people to check food packages in their refrigerators for batch numbers that would indicate contaminated food.

Such a central platform can do more than what news media sources can: reach people anywhere and at any time. A manufacturer would know who to target with their emergency recall information by allowing customers to register their product through the centralized platform. They could type the serial number into the registration form on the platform or simply scan the product’s barcode using a mobile app on their smartphone.

But what about people who don’t want to share personal information during registration? With the central platform, they could register their purchase anonymously. The platform would record the product’s serial number and the mobile app’s unique identifier. When a recall occurs, the central platform issues the recall alert based on serial number batches and sends out the message through the mobile app.

Reaching more people to increase safety during product recalls

While ensuring that only safe and high-quality products reach consumers is manufacturers’ primary goal, appropriate risk management when issues are discovered needs to also take center stage in a company’s policies and procedures.

Seeking out new technologies that will help alert people about product recalls can be a tremendous benefit. Central platforms, anonymous registrations, and mobile apps can be used by these manufacturers to reach everyone who is affected by the emergency recall. These central platforms can lead to greater alert coverage so people are protected if a quality issue is discovered.

Learn how to bring new technologies and services together to power digital transformation by downloading The IoT Imperative for Consumer Industries. Explore how to bring Industry 4.0 insights into your business today by reading Industry 4.0: What’s Next?


Eric Somitsch

About Eric Somitsch

Eric Somitsch is Senior Director of Solution Management for Agribusiness and Commodity Management at SAP.