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How Apparel Manufacturers and Retailers can Learn to Love the Digital Product Passport (DPP)

Apr 12, 2024 10:01:28 AM

With the European Union’s (EU) introduction of Digital Product Passports (DPPs), apparel manufacturers may find themselves sighing in frustration over what could be viewed as the latest bureaucratic box to check. After all, DPPs will be introduced to help businesses meet strict policies and regulations set by the EU with the goal of accomplishing net zero emissions by 2050. 

Given that the fashion industry alone is responsible for 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions and 20% of global wastewater, it’s the EU’s plan that these mandates will ‘encourage’ businesses to not only operate more sustainably but they will also promote a circular economy — that is, an economy where products are designed to be reused, repaired, or recycled rather than discarded as waste. 

While there is no specific date for when the digital product passport mandates will go into effect in Europe, (Retailers and apparel manufacturers in the US take note: while the EU is going first, similar legislation is no doubt headed your way soon.)

If you’re thinking that creating a digital passport for each of your products will require gathering, recording, processing, and safeguarding a bit of data, you’re correct. But before you quietly hate DPPs, know that this most recent mandate also offers more than its fair share of positives for apparel manufacturers, brands, and retailers. 

Before we get into the ways that DPPs can be used to differentiate your brand from your competitors, let’s quickly define what they are. 

Digital product passports, defined 

DPPs are next-generation supply chain transparency and traceability tools — or more simply put, a digital record that provides information about a product’s origin, environmental and social impact, from source to sale and possibly beyond

This innovative system lets customers quickly and easily scan a product’s QR code or NFC tag and access important information related to its production, use, and disposal. Consumers can view verified product information about the materials used to make an item, its manufacturing processes, energy consumption, carbon footprint, and other environmental and social factors — all the information needed to make responsible purchasing decisions — at the point of purchase.

What sets the digital passport system apart from traditional physical certificates is its ability to not be forged, replicated, damaged or destroyed. As the item proceeds through its life cycle, any events related to it (think returns, warranty maintenance, even resale)  can be recorded on the DPP, giving manufacturers and retailers a complete view into which phases of circularity their products have gone through.

But DPPs have much more potential than just customer satisfaction and providing a post-purchase chain of custody. This helps ensure compliance with regulations and legislation, as well as uncover potential conflicts of interest or labor violations, not to mention opportunities to reduce costs as a result of improved supply chain visibility. 

DPPs offer apparel manufacturers a great opportunity to gain competitive advantage in the market. In fact, in response to growing consumer demand for more sustainable and transparent products, some companies have voluntarily begun providing DPPs for their products. That's a prudent idea and one your brand should consider doing as well. Here’s why. 

Embracing the power of the digital product passport for marketing 

As we’ve established, DPPs can help build trust with consumers and comply with regulations. But they can also help you compete. By telling a compelling story about your product's production processes and the impact it has on the environment and society, you can build an emotional connection with consumers and enhance your product's appeal.

  1. Stand out from competitors. While legislation is still pending, not everyone will have a system in place and until they do, are unable to offer consumers this type of information. For the brands that can, this can help you position your products as more environmentally and socially responsible. This is a big deal when appealing to consumers who prioritize sustainability.
  2. Build brand trust. By providing transparency and accountability regarding the environmental and social impact of a product, a DPP can help to build trust with consumers. This can be particularly important for companies that are seeking to establish a reputation as responsible and ethical brands.
  3. Create a connection. Use the DPP to tell the water-saving and fair-trade story of the item the customer holds in their hand. Sharing the journey of the product, its production processes, and the impact it has on the environment and society can help build an emotional connection with your customers. 
  4. Protect your brand. Give customers peace of mind that the item they’re purchasing is the real deal. With the digital passport, product authentication, and registration become easy for them (and additional data collection seamless and worthwhile for you.) 
  5. Create new paths to purchase. Leverage a new commerce channel with digital upsell at the point of purchase, offering complementary items geared to the unique customer. 
  6. Enable new business models. Extend data collection and pursue even more revenue channels such as resale, recycle, repair, and rental with the ability to follow your product’s journey post-purchase, even when ownership is transferred.
  7. Enhance loyalty and rewards programs. Loyalty programs that reward customers over time for choosing your brand become low-hanging fruit when using the passport system.  

How DPPs will benefit your brand 

The benefits of DPPs are far-reaching and will no doubt be an invaluable tool, even as you ramp up incorporating them into your business. Here are a few examples:

  • Transparency. With access to reliable data about your products throughout the entire value chain, you can present ethical sourcing and production to your consumers, further engaging them in your brand.
  • Consumer Feedback. Extend your consumer user groups exponentially by surveying registered users.
  • Financial. Gain new sales by interacting directly with consumers through the DPP PWA.
  • Connecting Lost to Lost Consumers - The increased sales of apparel through Marketplaces results in the brand owner losing connection with their end consumer. Using our DPP solution can help brands reconnect with their valued customers, even directing them to their D2C channels for future sales, where greater margins can be achieved. 

Preparing for the Digital Product Passport 

To prepare for the EU Digital Product Passport, the first step is to take appropriate steps to ensure manufacturing compliance with all related regulations. Ultimately, this will include creating digital product passports for each product or service you offer, as well as building an infrastructure that supports traceability and authentication features. This is where CHARMING can help. 

Get a first-mover advantage with CHARMING.DIGI

CHARMING.DIGI is a digital product passport platform that can help apparel manufacturers stay ahead of the competition by making it easier to transition to EU standards. Our comprehensive, no-code solution provides an easy and efficient way for you to meet the requirements of the EU Digital Product Passport, allowing you to quickly increase customer loyalty while gaining a competitive edge at the same time.

With powerful tools such as detailed product information comprehensive dashboards and tracking capabilities, CHARMING.DIGI keeps you compliant while helping you provide customers an enhanced experience. 

At CHARMING, we understand how important it is for companies to remain competitive in today's market – which is why we strive to make transitioning towards EU standards as effortless as possible. By taking the necessary steps now to become compliant, you can unlock valuable opportunities from increased customer satisfaction to more efficient production processes – all leading to increased profitability in the long run — and giving you the first-mover advantage. 

Are you interested in learning more about CHARMING.DIGI

Reach out to us for a consultation. 


Topics: sustainability