L.L.Bean wants to know what you’re doing in its duck boots
L.L.Bean wants to know what you’re doing with its boots and coats after you’ve bought them. That’s why the company is planning a test, placing sensors in merchandise to send data to a blockchain platform.
The idea behind the test is to capture information such as temperature and how often an item is worn and washed to see if customers are using the clothing as intended. It will also help Bean learn if the products are meeting expected standards.
“If we can see that the customer really is utilizing [a product] in the way we intended, if they’re wearing it in the right climate or on a daily basis, that helps us decide whether it’s still viable in a market,” Chad Leeder, innovation specialist at L.L.Bean, told The Wall Street Journal. “If we see a high return rate, we’ll analyze why.”
While the company has received feedback from customers over the years, the data captured in this test will for the first time be “quantifiable,” according to Mr. Leeder.
For those having Orwellian thoughts, the test will not include geo-location, and will be done with the knowledge and participation of Bean customers purchasing the items.
Customers will need to download an app and pass their phones over the sensor to transmit data to the Ethereum blockchain platform where Bean will be able to access it. Those participating will also agree to share additional demographic information. Mr. Leeder told the Journal that the company is considering offering customers incentives to participate.
Bean is moving into relatively new territory with its test. A recent survey of businesses in the consumer industry by IBM found only 18 percent currently using blockchain, although almost 70 percent expect to be using it within three years. The technology is expected to produce benefits in a wide number of areas, including product safety and authenticity, supply chain optimization, finance/operational processes, regulatory compliance, promotional strategy management, customer engagement and co-creation.
- L.L. Bean To Link Boots, Coats to a Blockchain – The Wall Street Journal
- How will blockchain disrupt retail – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: How might L.L. Bean benefit from its planned test? Do you think consumers will be eager or reluctant to participate? How might other brands use sensors to gain product usage data?