Awear Solutions is using technology to build a frequent flyer program for fashion.
Liron Slonimsky and Oren Zoner, cofounders and cochief executive officers of the technology company — which has developed a button-sized, low-energy bluetooth chip and a corresponding app — want to help brands engage in a two-way dialogue with consumers while also gathering valuable intelligence.
The smart tag developed by the company and embedded into a purchase can communicate with the app, if users choose to opt in.
“The brand incentivizes [customers] to do whatever they are doing, but [while] carrying the product. Regular consumers are already the brand ambassadors,” Slonimsky said. By using the technology, brands can offer customers perks for taking looks out of the closet, including discounts on future purchases to access to pre-sales. “Essentially, it’s mobilizing consumers in a way that brands have mobilized bloggers, but at a larger scale.”
The venture has raised a seed round of over $1 million from angel investors in New York City and Slonimsky and Zoner’s native Israel, including lead investor Eddy Shalev, founder of Genesis Partners, a leading venture capital firm in Herzliya, Israel. Slonimsky said she will start raising a Series A shortly. Awear did a pilot with a U.K.-based accessories company a few months ago and just signed their first U.S. brand to debut the technology this fall.
“It makes the brand and consumer relationship an active one, not a passive one,” said Aliza Licht, a strategic advisor for the company, who stressed that data is being collected about the product, not the customer. “It’s information for the brands. They detect the popularity of different styles, colors and models in different locations and different use cases.”
Beyond the gathering of data, Awear wants to extend the conversation with the consumer throughout the product’s life cycle. Most communication with the shopper stops after the item leaves the store, and Slonimsky wants to change this. While the technology does not collect any consumer information — users don’t provide their e-mail or sign in with social media — the Awear app is able to locate the smart product and communicate with the unique tag.
“If a brand is coming out with a new bag and Coachella is around the corner, they can push notifications to anyone who has that bag and say, ‘If you’re going to Coachella and you’re wearing this product, you will have access to our VIP Wi-Fi lounge or whatever the activation is,” Slonimsky said.
Brands can also benefit by learning more about where their looks are being worn.
Slonimsky declined to say what firm tested out Awear earlier this year, but she said early insights are already proving valuable. For instance, a handbag that was thought to be an evening style was actually not used much after 5 p.m., according to consumers who opted in to the technology.
“All of these consumers were driving to work and not taking the subway, so if a brand was doing a big advertising campaign in the subway, this would force them to rethink their advertising and perhaps maybe do radio,” Slonimsky said. Knowing how a specific item is being worn will also help the brand better suggest complementary products.
“It takes marketing and advertising and makes it smart,” Slonimsky said.