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Etam Expands ‘Transparency’ to Include Traceability

French lingerie brand Etam is gearing up to expand an experimental traceability technology program across its entire range of bras and underwear.

The heritage Paris-based label with more than 100 years in the intimates arena has been exclusively deploying digital identification tech made by Avery Dennison Smartrac across 80 percent of its product line since 2007, as a means of tracking and tracing product throughout its journey from factory to store shelf.

Now, the platform, dubbed Transparency, allows the brand’s shoppers to access exclusive content and details about the origins of their purchases. By the end of 2021, all of Etam’s offerings will be covered by Transparency, the group said in a statement last week.

Etam first began using RFID-enabled tagging technology more than a decade ago on a line called “Undiz,” which was geared toward young shoppers. The company used the system to provide a global vision of its stock, wherever the product happened to be. The technology allowed the brand to take full advantage of its inventory, whether it was being showcased in stores, in stockrooms, or in warehouses.

Amid shoppers’ growing interest in sustainability, though, the company expanded Transparency across its product lines as a means of promoting consumer-facing traceability. Shoppers can scan QR codes on product labels to beam short videos about factories and product insights directly to their smartphones.

Etam's traceability technology relies on a single hang tag.
Etam’s traceability technology relies on a single hang tag. Courtesy

Each product displays both types of codes on a single hangtag, allowing Etam to continue to access valuable product data and tracking information through RFID, while shoppers use the QR code to find out more about their purchases. The solution mitigates the need to print or affix two tags to the product, Etam said.

“The integrated hangtags use printed serialized QR codes to let consumers interact with products at the item level, while Avery Dennison Smartrac’s UHF RFID inlays provide stock levels in real time,” the group said. “RFID plays a critical role in achieving this required stock accuracy, making sure inventory is accurately tracked, taking account of the constant flow of purchases and returns.”

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The RFID technology also gives Etam the ability to leverage omnichannel services, like self-checkout at stores and a “Try@Home” program that allows shoppers to order up to five items to try on in the comfort of their own homes. Shoppers can choose to purchase the items outright or return them to a store. After 12 days with the products, their value is automatically debited from the customer’s account—a process made possible by the RFID tracking.

One of Etam's global stores.
One of Etam’s global stores. Courtesy

“As demand signals across channels become harder to predict, there have also been significant impacts on product, retail store, factory, and logistics services availability,” Uwe Hennig, Avery Dennison Smartrac’s market development director for food and apparel, said.

While many other categories floundered or at faltered during the pandemic, the global female underwear market, worth $73 billion annually, has seen more resiliency, according to Euromonitor data. And according to a retail report from Accenture published in May, 87 percent of retailers are focusing RFID to help deliver better omnichannel experiences during the Covid crisis.