Put it all on the web, they say….

Not a day goes by where you don’t hear a story of somebody proclaiming the virtues of putting the information on the web rather than in printed form. A paperless world with nothing but electronic communications is the ultimate goal. It’s cheaper; it’s environmentally friendly; and it just makes sense… the argument goes. Whoooaa. It sounds good on paper (no pun intended), but it really isn’t that practical or safe for that matter. In fact, it has some significant downsides which could lead to legal issues and customer injury.

Lets look at some advantages:

  • Printed labeling is always there. You don’t need to turn it on. It doesn’t run out of power. You don’t need a device to use it. It isn’t based on shaky networks (can you hear me now).
  • Printed labeling is available to everybody who can read. There are those who don’t use electronics. Those who only have simple electronics like flip phones. Those without computers. Why would any company want to cut off a major chuck of its customers?
  • Printed labeling is convenient. Open it up and read. You don’t have to turn it on…find scanner….scan it….And, then read the webpage. What a pain. Tick tock! Peeling opening a booklet label to read the instructions is simple and easy.
  • Printed labeling makes good legal sense. In this litigious world, you need all the protection you can get. A major argument against a product misuse lawsuit is that the instructions were physically attached to the product. Can you say that about a website in cyberspace? Maybe someday, but not now.
  • Printed labeling is safer. It’s reliable, convenient, and readily available. All you have to do is peel it open. It says “this is dangerous or read this before taking etc”. No QR code does that.

You might want to give a second thought to the person who suggests eliminating package labeling in favor of putting it on the web. It might seem like a good idea, but the ramifications are enormous.

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