Sock and outdoor apparel maker DeFeet International is turning to blockchain to combat counterfeits, enhance its warranty program and and improve customer loyalty.
“We build our products to last,” Shane Cooper, founder, president and chief sockologist, DeFeet, told Sourcing Journal. “We believe ‘value’ is long-lasting goodness; counterfeit products that are made with lesser quality materials and craftsmanship will erode a companies reputation.”
According to runners’ news hub Trizone, DeFeet partnered with LuxTag.io to put its products on the blockchain. “I had used [Luxtag’s] NEM blockchain personally and feel that it’s one of the best blockchains in existence, especially for this type of application,” Paul Willerton, DeFeet’s vice president of marketing, said.
Blockchain, a secure, distributed ledger technology, makes counterfeiting difficult because verifiable records are kept on each item in a blockchain as it moves from supply chain to shipper to consumer. Customers purchasing DeFeet products that are recorded on the ledger will be able to scan them with their smartphones and access data that verifies the product as authentic.
Willerton said DeFeet has encountered just one instance of a company selling knockoff product out of Asia, but he’s betting on this new technology to stamp out counterfeiting for good.
“Their website had my photo on the ‘about our founder’ page. So they stole our entire identity,” Cooper said. “They were distributing fake DeFeet socks. This was hard to shut down, but over the course of about six months and lots of legal bills later, we were successful.”
“DeFeet is continually working with higher level artists who like to put their artwork on our products,” Willerton said. “As we get more comfortable with the type of solution LuxTag is providing, we feel that we can strengthen the authenticity of our products and build even better relationships with the artists we work with now and in the future.”
Cooper added, “Our artist collection and designer collaborations are also getting mimicked and are prime candidates for counterfeiters. We see LuxTag as a very good way to protect all involved.”
Blockchain will also be able to add products to DeFeet’s customers’ profiles, help the company suggest products relevant to customers’ individual behaviors and tastes, improve the warranty and repair processes, keep tally for loyalty rewards programs and helps determine distribution logistics.
DeFeet is introducing the new technology using its Barnstormer socks line, where it’s matching its Adventure Cycling Club members with products and promotions based on past purchases and other relevant data. The company plans to expand the service to other product lines in the future.
DeFeet may be one of few apparel retailers leading the way by implementing the use of blockchain, but it’s safe to say that others will follow. After all, from supply chains to retailers to consumers, the benefits are numerous. Data collected from products in a blockchain informs the brands about the products that they are selling, from the manufacturing stage to after it is purchased. It keeps the retailer honest because there is a chain of data informing on things like the origins of textiles and the manufacturing processes.
Blockchain also benefits the consumers because it allows them to share data about their purchases, offering the brands feedback on what works and what needs improvement.
Additional reporting provided by Jessica Binns.