Why “bringing products online” is essential
Connected products turn garments into powerful communication tools
A jacket, a dress, or a pair of shoes can be more than items of clothing. They can be connected products, that is, a digital channel that creates countless opportunities to connect with consumers for many years after purchase. This is an important element since customer loyalty -that is, a company's ability to retain its customers over time - is synonymous with customer satisfaction and translates into continued profits in the long run.
What is a connected product according to Certilogo?
Simply put, a connected product is a garment with a smart label. This label might have an NFC tag, or a QR tag. Either way, it is a technology accessible from any smartphone. In the case of the QR code, for example, all the consumer has to do is frame the code to be immediately connected with the brand's digital platform. Through this platform, the brand can offer a variety of content and services that fall into 4 main categories: authentication, transparency, sustainability, and engagement.
These categories explain by themselves why it is important to bring products online. Let's find out more!
Connected products and counterfeiting
According to our data, 3 out of 10 products authenticated through the platform we offer brands are counterfeit. From 2015 to 2022, the percentage increased from 8% to 30%. 80% of fakes are sold online, and 72% of consumers believed they had an original product on their hands.
The first and most obvious advantage of connected products is the fight against counterfeiting. They allow consumers to verify in a few seconds that their garments are 100% original, by simply scanning the code or tag with their phone. Each garment has its own unique and secure identity that gives customers confidence and security when buying from a certain brand, especially in the case of luxury items or second-hand items. This makes them more likely to buy again from the same seller, but it also makes them more likely to resell their used garments, as the certainty of authenticity allows them to place the product at a higher price and sell it faster than they would without the ability to guarantee authenticity. In other words, authentication is a way to conserve a garment’s value over time.
Connected products and sustainability
Fashion and textiles are polluting industries, and people are becoming increasingly aware that they can make a difference with their purchasing choices. In fact, for more than 70 percent of consumers, the environmental impact of the product plays an important role in deciding whether or not to buy it. Many of them, particularly Gen Zs, are also willing to pay more to buy a product that they know is sustainable and ethical. However, how do they know whether or not that item is truly sustainable and ethical? Brand claims are no longer enough; greenwashing is coming to an end. What matters are the facts.
Fashion brands can use connected products to share certifications, traceability of the origin of materials, supply chain information, but also tips for caring for the garment so that it will last longer.
In addition to market demands, fashion brands must also adapt to new regulations. One example is the EU Strategy for the Sustainability and Circularity of the Textile Sector, of March 2022, which introduces the requirement of a "Digital Product Passport” for all textile products sold in the European community of 2030. We all await final approval by the European Parliament this year, but companies should adopt the digital passport anyway. In fact, it contains a lot of useful information for consumers, such as product descriptions, data on energy and water consumption, GHG emissions, materials, chemicals, and recycling instructions.
The digital product passport can be easily integrated into connected products.
Connected products and services
Still on the topic of sustainability, another benefit of connected products is to facilitate circular fashion through services that extend the life of the product or enhance its end. These services are resale, recycling, and rental.
According to our survey:
- 35% of consumers would like to resell a garment they no longer use;
- 19% would like to swap it with a new product;
- 16% would like to give it back to the brand for recycling (in exchange for a reward).
The challenge for companies is to manage these activities. However, connected products can store product information, facilitate customer interaction, and track the product over time. In this way, companies can:
- organise the collection of used garments for disposal or recycling,
- manage repair and rental services without delay and with accuracy,
- give consumers the ability to upload used products to reselling platforms without having to manually add product descriptions, photos and other details.
Moreover, companies can collect data to better understand their customers and tailor their offerings accordingly. But there is more: they can also take advantage of repeat purchases when the customer's primary need is service rather than the purchase of a new item.
Connected products and engagement
Finally, in terms of customer engagement, connected products allow brands to send personalised messages that are tailored to each garment/consumer based on its location and usage data.
These messages include:
- real-time product updates;
- exclusive content related to their purchases;
-promotions and discounts;
- invitations to special events;
- requests to participate in surveys and leave feedback;
- requests to create UGC (user-generated content);
- Virtual Try-Ons;
- Personal Styling;
And much more.
This interaction contributes to building trust with customers, who can feel even more connected to the brand. Indeed, the usage data we collected from our customers' connected products tells us that:
- 80% of connected consumers interact with at least one content;
- 15% of connecting consumers linked to a brand's digital channel.
One tool, many advantages
In summary, connected products offer fashion brands a powerful tool to increase customer engagement, foster a circular economy, provide sustainability credentials and reduce counterfeiting. We are sure that they are poised to become the new norm that will define the world of fashion and retail in the years to come. Now, it is the time for brands to start exploring the potential of connected products and implementing strategies that embrace their unique features. Taking steps towards digitalisation is no longer an option—it’s a necessity for success.