Smart phones have increasingly become an extension of Generation Y limbs. We’re addicted to information that can be accessed instantly when we’re in the comfort of our own homes. But what is it like to have information available on specific products right at the point of sale? We’ve seen barcode apps for iPhone and Android that scan product barcodes and compare prices at different stores. Most certainly convenient for budget shoppers, it doesn’t tell us much about the product itself.
The Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) is a trade organisation comprised of brands, retailers, manufacturers, government, and non-governmental organizations and academic experts, representing more than a third of the global apparel and footwear market. The Coalition is working to reduce the environmental and social impacts of apparel and footwear products around the world. And, as a solution, is considering a Quick Response (QR) code system which will allow customers to scan clothing labels using their smartphones right at the point of purchase.
Despite the fact that other companies have been carrying out trials with the QR code technology, this is the first time QR codes have been implemented across an entire industry in an effort to drive the sustainability agenda. Karl-Johan Persson, the CEO of H&M, the world’s second largest fast fashion company, says that it is imperative that businesses have the means to connect customers to the product information:
“If you could have a clothing label, which we are working on, where you can see the environmental footprint and the social footprint, then you could really inform the customers and they could make a choice to go to the companies that are responsible. The more we can explain the work behind every product and behind every company, the better.”
RFID tagging has similarly had a significant impact on the apparel industry. RFID, or Radio Frequency Identification, is a tagging method similar in function to barcoding. With the help of this technology, retailers can identify approximately 12 000 articles per hour – that’s 20 times faster than using a normal barcoding system. Have a read through our previous blog post on RFID tagging for more detailed information on this technology.
What also adds up to RFID being ideal for fashion retail is that unlike barcodes, is that RFID tags can store item-specific information. Tag information can be very detailed, and can include size, colour, price, model number, batch and other data relating to the individual item. All of this information, on hundreds of tags, can be read through containers and from distances of several metres in a second or two.
It’s clear that barcodes have started a trend in the apparel and fashion industries in attempts to drive sustainability, transparency and efficiency in business. But what about the designs themselves? To end off, have a browse through our slide show for some barcode-inspired fashion garments and initiatives.