Knockoffs have consistently plagued the luxury industry, but now that technology can do everything that it does, brands are finding new ways to battle fraudsters.
For Ferragamo, that means adding radio frequency identification (RFID) tags to its shoes and leather goods in order to identify and track them.
Retailers are already using RFID to improve inventory visibility, but using it for authentication may be the next big thing. RFID tags can hold information about where a product was made, which could quickly highlight fakes from non-brand factories.
Ferragamo started putting RFID tags in the left sole of most of its women’s shoes in 2014, according to Bloomberg, and now the microchips will find their way into men’s shoes and women’s leather goods and luggage.
According to the Italian luxury brand, the tags will allow Ferragamo to “track the shoe with certainty, giving the group better control in the fight against fakes.”
The company website’s general terms and conditions read: “To protect the originality and quality, as well as identify the provenance of our products, a passive NFC (Near Field Communication) tag has been inserted in some shoe models. The tag contains no personal information and is not readable at a distance.” NFC is a branch of high-frequency RFID designed to be a secure form of data exchange.
More retailers are starting to tap into the value of RFID, especially as consumers increasingly expect seamless all-channel retail.
Target worked on a nationwide rollout of RFID last year to improve its inventory accuracy and be able to continuously keep stores in stock. Zara implemented the technology in a big way in 2014, using it in logistics centers and stores to pinpoint styles and sizes that may need replenishing when the retailer gets its twice-weekly store shipments. On the consumer side, Zara can tell a shopper almost immediately whether a size is available in the store, at a nearby store or online.
With intellectual property increasingly under threat, more brands—especially luxury brands—could start implementing RFID for authentication.
As GS1, an organization that develops and maintains standards for global supply and demand chains, said, “The retail industry is feeling the pressure to deliver the perfect omnichannel experience. The so-called fake omnichannel, or “fomni-channel,” is often indistinguishable to the consumer—they may spend money buying fake products without even realizing it. It’s more important than ever for brands to protect their product authenticity by implementing proactive anti-counterfeit strategies.”