NFC Tags Take to the Slopes on Ski Jackets | Crepak
NFC Tags Take to the Slopes on Ski Jackets

NFC Tags Take to the Slopes on Ski Jackets

29 Sep 2016

For the past few months, buyers of U.S. Ski Team (USST) jackets from theSpyder Active Sports apparel brand have been able to use Near Field Communication (NFC) technology to access information about the jackets, the ski team and local skiing. Spyder is trialing the system, with an NFC tag built into each jacket, to determine how well consumers enjoy receiving the information that the apparel company can provide via the tag. The solution allows consumers to access content from the products in-store or at home, by tapping an NFC-enabled smartphone or tablet against the Spyder logo on the jackets. They can then engage with social-media sites, such as YouTube, Twitter and Instagram, as well as view information regarding the USST, local snow conditions, trail maps and regional events.


Spyder, a ski and performance apparel and accessory brand operated by Global Brands Group, provides apparel worldwide and has been sponsoring the U.S. Ski Team for 27 years, says Julia Hansen, Spyder Active Sports' president and CEO. Beginning with its first padded ski sweater in 1978, she says, Spyder has been striving to provide technology innovation along with fashion and functionality.


Spyder ActiveSports' Julia Hansen

"We are always searching for potential brand-building consumer experiences that are unique to Spyder," Hansen says. Brands rarely offer authentic team or athlete apparel while also providing technology that opens a conversation with those athletes, she explains. "Our consumers are an extension of this brand, and the ability to enhance their experience with our [ski team] athletes is invaluable."


The company recently decided to begin testing NFC in a small line of products, and plans to expand the technology's use if it is well received by consumers this ski season. "The U.S. Ski Team NFC collection is a small assortment of jackets that is allowing us to test and determine how we could employ this technology into other categories," Hansen says.

The solution consists of a Smartrac Dura NFC tag, based on NXP Semiconductors' NTAG213tag, as well as Smartrac's Smart Cosmos Platform and CX software, through a partnership with mobile marketing solutions company Blue Bite, according to Corey Wilson, Smartrac's VP of global business development. Users do not require an app to interact with the NFCtag—only a tablet or phone with a built-in NFC reader.

When a user taps his or her smartphone next to the tag, the reader captures that tag's unique ID number, prompting the phone to access Spyder's webpage. There, the individual can access information regarding the USST and its members, and view data specific to the user's location, such as ski slope conditions. After purchasing the jacket, the user can register it for authentication and warranty purposes, by tapping the phone against the tagand selecting the prompts provided on the website. The customer can also view historical purchase information if he or she has ordered multiple products.

Spyder can utilize Smartrac's Smart Cosmos software in combination with Blue Bite software to update the webpage, thereby creating fresh content for consumers, jacket wearers and their friends.


Smartrac has developed a line of washable and wearable tags that can be embedded in various products, Wilson says. "Our Dura NFC products have been developed to meet the various rigorous wash-and-wear requirements," he states.


Smartrac's Corey Wilson

The NFC tag is applied at the point of manufacture by Li & Fung Ltd., Spyder's sourcing agent, and its ID number is linked to that jacket in order to initiate the digital identity. Li & Fung applies the NFC tag on the Spyder patch behind the logo for the call to action, and the tag is subsequently applied to the garment. The tag's unique ID number is then stored with the jacket's stock-keeping unit (SKU) in the Smart Cosmos Platform and CX software.


The U.S. Ski Team collection was launched in mid-November as part of the World Cup season. It is too early to identify the interest, Hansen says, but adds, "This technology has many possible implications for our brand."

According to Hansen, the company has confidence that it can further leverage NFCtechnology in its products. "With the evolution of IoT [Internet of Things] and brands becoming more socially engaged with their consumers," she says, "our future possibilities are quite robust."