Corrugated Boxes: The Next Frontier in Consumer Engagement?

International Paper’s “Ohmega Conductive Ink + Touchcode” technology turns commodity boxes into interactive smartphone experiences.

October 13, 2022

4 Min Read
A corrugated box is just a box, but a OHMEGA Conductive Ink + Touchcode box is connected smart packaging.Image courtesy of International Paper

Phones are smart, appliances are smart, and now corrugated boxes can be made smart, the result of a on-trend new product from International Paper developed in conjunction with smart packaging enabler Touchcode.

Called OHMEGA Conductive Ink + Touchcode, it represents the first time the latter’s interactive ink-based technology has been used with corrugated packaging.

It starts with a unique code printed on a customer’s package using IP’s new custom Ohmega Conductive Ink. The eco-friendly ink uses the body’s natural electricity as the primary power source to unlock a unique interaction on the touchscreen device once the end-user customer visits the associated website or opens the app; no third-party provider is needed.

Users simply touch the code facedown onto the screen to unlock the brand-specified digital content.

For IP’s application, the ink-coded card is a perforated section inside the top box flap that’s revealed upon opening. The customer punches out the card and places it against the smartphone screen.

That seamless engagement opportunity for customers belies the two years’ development behind it.


Katie Diley, innovation marketing manager at IP, believes the timing is perfect for the introduction. “The role of packaging in customer experience is increasingly valued by brands. There is also a need for greater security due to looming risk and growing costs of cyber threats. As ecommerce has boomed, the unboxing experience has become an expectation. Ohmega offers a unique interaction with brands and delivers customized, exclusive content. It can be tailored to meet the exact requirements of a brand, which makes it a more attractive solution for specialized products.”

Diley identifies several of the biggest benefits:

Unboxing. Unique unboxing experience that has consumers interacting with brands’ packaging is literally embedded in the box separate and above whatever is inside.

Security. Access to a safe and secure platform that minimizes risk of spoofing, phishing, or counterfeiting, which is on the rise with existing methods such as a quick response (QR) code.

Because the Ohmega Touchcode card cannot be copied or duplicated, Diley believes it presents a major advantage over QR codes. “Unfortunately, cyberattacks are a costly threat to companies across the globe as well as their customers. However, with Ohmega you must have the card in hand, so it cannot be picked up by couponing sites as with QR codes. QR codes are easily created for free, but fraudsters are using them to open victims’ bank accounts, install malware, and penetrate entire corporate networks.”

Analytics and customizable content. The use of an online dashboard to track, measure, and monitor customer engagement and the ability to push customized content based on demographic without the need to reprint or retool. Diley says that includes coupon applications, assembly instructions, service promotions, loyalty programs, collectability items, and more.

“We print the code and the customer dictates where that lands,” she says. “The customer creates content that they can change it at any time. For example, if our customer is Famous Footwear, people in New York are responding to winter boots, while people in Southern California are shopping sandals. The brand can send customized offers based on a particular demographic — in this case, geography — to entice them to convert. Additionally, they can be running multiple campaigns off the same URL at the same time.”


Details on ink, costs, and status.

The specific printed conductive ink pattern ranges from three to five dots depending on the package size and security level desired.

“Each customer campaign is designated by a specific dot pattern and associated URL,” Diley explains. The conductive ink, which is available only in black, does not affect the box’s recyclability, she adds.

The cost for Ohmega is minimal. “In relation to other digital marketing methods, it’s a fraction of the cost,” Diley says.

Touchcode technology has been in the market, but IP’s proprietary solution was recently launched and is not yet in-market.

“Customers who have heard of the product are thrilled, and we’ve had a number of questions about how this solution could be customized for their brand and or product,” Diley discloses. “Customers are signing up, so it will be in the market soon!”

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