April 21, 2022
A recent article in Fast company predicts a world where products can tell customers all about themselves using a digital ID, readable via a QR code or NFC tag, containing information about where the product has been and how long it will last Product.
Technology is evolving as customers seem to be more aware of the origin of the products they buy.
Assigning digital IDs to products in every category, from jackets to t-shirts to furniture, could lead to the birth of new customer services and business models, according to the study Natasha Franck, Founder and CEO of connected products company EON, as quoted in the Fast company Article. In categories like fashion, Ms. Franck sees digital IDs enabling retailers to easily expedite reorders, styling, care, repair and resale, earning money at every step in a given product’s lifecycle.
Similar technology is already being used in grocery stores. Recently global food chain Carrefour was the first grocer to use blockchain to provide additional in-store information about its organic products via QR code. Scanning a QR code brings customers information about the origin and route of the product, quality level and organic certification.
The question remains to what extent customers would actually use or benefit from this granular level of information. While many US companies have taken steps to improve their sustainable and ethical production profile – and have applied accordingly – there are examples of companies that thrive while doing the exact opposite.
Despite its notorious lack of supply chain transparency and sustainability initiatives, Chinese marketplace Shein remains at the forefront of the fast fashion world, according to reports High snobby. The Warehouse Direct marketplace has generated $15.7 billion in revenue and is targeting a $100 billion valuation.
Privacy could also become an issue as brands attach a digital ID to every product and track metrics about them. Customers may be uncomfortable with personal information about them being collected and attached to products they ultimately intend to resell, and such information could theoretically be used in harmful ways by the new owners of used products.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you see digital IDs becoming mainstream for all products and if so, what type of information will customers expect from them? Will privacy concerns and other downsides prevent the use of this reuse technology?
“Privacy could be an issue until anti-abuse laws are in place. But the benefits far outweigh the risks or concerns.”