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Success Story: Andy & Evan Offers ‘Lost and Found’ Digital Tagging Using QR Codes

Success Story is a Sourcing Journal feature highlighting innovative solutions across all areas of the supply chain.

Nothing irks a parent more than when their kids lose articles of clothing. And nothing irks a brand more than giving consumer purchasing data over to the retailer that sells the item.

With the help of Brij, a platform aimed at connecting physical products to digital experiences, children’s wear brand Andy & Evan has discovered a win-win situation.

The company is now gathering deeper customer demographic data and purchasing behavior—all while helping parents avoid those pesky lost clothing expenses. Using Brij, shoppers can scan a QR code sewn into the back neckline of any newly purchased Andy & Evan garment. After scanning the code with their mobile device, Brij prompts parents to “register” the product online via their email, Google or Facebook account.

Andy & Evan can leverage this channel to speak directly to consumers they previously couldn’t access. As a wholesaler in some of retail’s biggest banners, including Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Costco and Amazon, as well as in mom-and-pop stores throughout the U.S., the brand casts a wide net among potential consumers. But often, the retailers have more access to first-party customer data since they make the direct sale.

“There’s a whole host of data points that are going to benefit us. We’ll know where people are buying, the exact product and size that they bought, people’s color preference,” said Evan Hakalir, president and CEO, Andy & Evan. “The granular data helps us reconnect with that customer later, either through our site or through our partner retailers.”

For example, Andy & Evan can use the product registration details to engage in direct email marketing with its customers, a benefit the company previously didn’t have as a wholesaler.

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Hakalir told Sourcing Journal that this data is pivotal for a children’s wear brand in particular, namely because parents keep buying newer clothes at larger sizes, often multiple times a year, as their children grow.

Recovering lost items

Andy & Evan also wants to solve a common pain point for parents who frequently worry about their children losing their jackets and clothing. A shopper can access Brij if they lose the registered product and share their GPS location and a note on how and where they can return the item.

If someone finds the garment, they can scan the QR code to message the owner, share their own message and contact information, and facilitate its return. By registering the product via the QR code, the initial buyer will be notified where the item was found and can claim ownership.

“Being a parent to little kids who are constantly losing things, it just clicked,” Hakalir said. “We figured this would be great, particularly for outerwear and more expensive items that are susceptible to getting lost. The physical tag sewn within the garment actually says ‘Scan me if lost.’ That was done intentionally so that if someone finds a jacket, this can direct them to the initial owner.”

QR code renaissance helped launch

The brand had a brief history with QR codes years ago when the technology first gained popularity, placing them within print magazine ads, but they didn’t generate much activity, according to Hakalir. When QR codes made a comeback during the Covid-19 pandemic as more shoppers got used to contactless payments, Andy & Evan decided to capitalize on the trend.

Brij co-founding CEO Kait Stephens said that in the company’s recent consumer survey, 90 percent of shoppers had scanned a QR code in May this year.

“We don’t see ourselves as a QR code company, we are a software company. The QR code is that connection between physical products and the digital experiences that we can provide, and we’ve doubled down on QR codes,” said Stephens.

Although Brij also is compatible with NFC (near field communication) tags—the technology used at “tap to pay” contactless payment systems—the solution provider typically recommends QR codes based on higher consumer awareness.

Platform leaves room for growth in inventory, rewards

As Andy & Evan continues to grow its direct e-commerce business, Hakalir sees the potential of tying consumer data back to inventory management, particularly since size ranges are vital to the brand. The children’s wear seller doesn’t offer every size range in every category, but it could add new size levels if it knows when children are outgrowing the brand, he said.

“I see many opportunities, particularly if we’re selling through a slew of size sixes, for example,” said Hakalir. “Do we now know that we can buy extras and size sevens next year since we can engage parents buying that size? If we let them know what we have in stock, it will help sell through current inventory, identify new products in the size range and better prep for future buying patterns.”

Although the brand hasn’t used all of the Brij platform’s features yet, there is potential to expand. For example, brands can deliver rewards and discounts to registered shoppers. Additionally, the QR code scanning ability can prompt shoppers to reorder products.

Brij can track receipts and product warranty expiration dates, and offer shoppers content including product manuals, how-to videos, ingredients, assembly or care instructions and customer support.

The platform also extends into the continually growing secondhand market. If a product with a Brij QR code is sold on a resale platform, shoppers can scan the code to verify its authenticity.

“Our whole platform is set up such that you can customize and select the modules that are relevant to you,” Stephens said. “For kids’ clothing, the lost-and-found functionality makes a ton of sense. But for durable goods such as consumer electronics and kitchenware, tracking product warranty duration and registering it in a consumer-friendly way is a very good bet.”