L.L. Bean says it might offer discounts for clothing that tracks your habits

  • L.L. Bean said Wednesday that it will be starting a pilot to sew sensors to clothing to track certain things about its usage.
  • This information would be fed into a blockchain and then anonymized for later use.
  • The company indicated it may offer discounts on items equipped with the new technology.

First, there were customer surveys. Now, there’s the blockchain.

L.L. Bean says it will start sewing in sensors in its clothing to track how customers use the items in a new pilot test, according to a new report in the Wall Street Journal. These sensors – which will start being used in coats and boots – will collect stats about how people wear and use the items. That information will then be sent the Ethereum blockchain, anonymized, and available for use for the company as raw data.

That will include things like temperature the garments experience, how often they’re worn, and how many times they have been washed. That information is a gold mine for a retailer, which can then use the information for creating new products, marketing products, and talking with suppliers. Clothing retailers and makers are currently only able to get such information from things like customer surveys and focus groups.

Blockchain is being used because it can effectively encrypts the data and can take data from many sources. Customers will transfer the data from their garment using an app on their phone that can bridge the garment to the internet. LL Bean will access the data from Ethereum, and not directly from customers themselves.

Chad Leeder, an innovation specialist at LL Bean, indicated to the Journal that it may provide discounts to those that enter the test, making the clothing with the sensors cheaper than comparable clothing without the sensors. Customers will have to consent to giving over the data at the time of purchase, and hand over some other demographic data to give a fuller picture of who is using the items.