Style with Substance: Leveraging PIM for Sustainability in Fashion

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By: Sagar Sharma

Style with Substance: Leveraging PIM for Sustainability in Fashion

“We all share the responsibility for our playground—Planet Earth. That’s why we’re reimagining things top to bottom through sustainability and circularity.” – Nike

During a recent visit to Nike’s store and website, I couldn’t help but notice the emphasis on sustainability in their product details. Intrigued by this commitment, I decided to purchase a pair of running shoes from their online platform. What caught my attention was a specific line in the product details: “This product is made with at least 20 percent recycled content by weight, which reduces waste and carbon footprint.”

The attention to sustainability didn’t stop with the product itself. Upon receiving the shoes, I saw that the packaging echoed the same commitment. The box proudly conveyed the message about the product’s recycled content, aligning with Nike’s dedication to reducing waste and environmental impact.

As a customer, this experience not only left me satisfied with my purchase but also impressed by Nike’s transparent approach to sustainability.

In the ever-evolving world of retail, where fashion reigns supreme, sustainability has emerged as a defining factor for businesses aiming to make a positive impact. From sourcing materials to the end-of-life of products, a comprehensive overhaul of processes is necessary. In this journey towards sustainability in fashion, the integration of Product Information Management (PIM) systems plays a pivotal role, offering a technological solution to align with eco-conscious goals.

This article explores the pivotal role of Product Information Management (PIM) solutions in steering fashion towards sustainability.

The Paradigm Shift Towards Sustainability in Fashion

the fashion industry has undergone a profound transformation, marked by a significant paradigm shift towards sustainability. This shift is not merely a trend but a fundamental reevaluation of the industry’s impact on the environment, society, and ethical practices. Several key factors contribute to this evolution, reflecting a growing awareness and a collective commitment to fostering positive change.

1. Sourcing Materials: A Crucial Starting Point

The fashion industry, known for its environmental impact, often faces challenges in material sourcing, contributing to significant emissions.

With approximately 100 billion fashion items produced annually, a staggering 92 million tons end up in landfills. The carbon-intensive processes of treating, dyeing, and transporting textiles further compound the industry’s ecological footprint.

Adopting a circular economy must begin at the inception of the product lifecycle. PIM systems, by centralizing and managing product information, provide a platform for transparency. Customers and investors alike seek detailed insights into sourcing processes, making PIM an invaluable tool in showcasing a commitment to sustainable practices.

2. Designing Products: Quality Over Quantity

The prevalent ‘take-make-dispose’ mentality of fast fashion contributes to immense waste in the linear economy. The paradigm shift towards sustainable eCommerce calls for a focus on quality over quantity. Products designed and built to last represent a departure from the fast fashion ethos. Consideration of the end-of-life of clothing and footwear during the design stage ensures optimal resource utilization.

3. The Way You Market: Beyond Greenwashing

Greenwashing, a term frequently used in the fashion industry, underscores the need for genuine sustainability efforts. Consumers now demand proof of a company’s commitment to sustainability. Here, PIM becomes a storytelling tool, leveraging product data and digital assets to narrate a brand’s sustainability journey. By providing comprehensive information, businesses can build trust with customers, employees, and investors, aligning with Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) goals.

4. The End of Life of Products: Embracing a Circular Economy

Only 1% of clothes currently get recycled and transformed into new garments, highlighting the necessity of a circular economy. Companies can take positive steps by exploring recycling processes for end-of-life products. PIM enables businesses to supply customers with after-care information, from repair instructions to optimal product care, fostering a circular mindset and prolonging the lifespan of products.

What Environmentally Savvy Customers Want to Know

Today’s customers including Gen Z and Gen Alpha are not only interested in the end product but also in the entire lifecycle of a product, from its raw materials to its manufacturing process and eventual disposal.

To cater to the preferences of environmentally savvy consumers, businesses need to address key aspects that align with their values and concerns.

  • Pre-Purchase Information:

Informed buying decisions hinge on detailed pre-purchase information. Customers seek insights into product sourcing, materials, working conditions, and logistics, demanding transparency throughout the supply chain.

  • Key Product Details:

Granular information about product components, sustainable materials, and eco-friendly practices is critical. PIM serves as a powerful tool for showcasing these details and reinforcing a brand’s commitment to environmental consciousness.

  • Delivery Details:

Sustainability extends beyond the product to delivery. PIM enables businesses to highlight different delivery options, providing clarity on environmental impacts and delivery timelines.

  • Post-Purchase Considerations:

Educating customers on after-care, repair options, and recycling processes contributes to building a circular mindset. PIM enables meticulous management of product data for effective communication.

pim-for-sustainability-in-fashion

Making Fashion More Sustainable with PIM

One powerful tool that can contribute significantly to making fashion more sustainable is Product Information Management (PIM). This technology not only enhances operational efficiency but also facilitates transparency in the supply chain, addressing critical aspects of sustainability.

One of the primary challenges in the fashion industry is managing diverse and detailed information about sustainable practices. This includes data about eco-friendly materials, ethical sourcing, and environmentally conscious manufacturing processes. PIM provides a centralized hub where all this information can be systematically organized, updated, and accessed. By consolidating sustainable data in one platform, fashion brands can ensure accuracy, eliminate redundancies, and communicate their commitment to sustainability effectively.

Consumers today are increasingly interested in the origins of their products, from raw materials to manufacturing processes. PIM facilitates traceability by allowing brands to track and showcase every step of a product’s lifecycle. Whether it’s the sourcing of organic cotton, the use of recycled materials, or adherence to ethical labor practices, PIM enables brands to provide detailed information about the sustainability journey of each item. This transparency builds trust with environmentally conscious consumers who seek assurance that their purchases align with their values.

  • Tools for Reporting Processes:

Sustainable eCommerce platforms with existing reporting processes find it easier to adapt to new standards. PIM’s powerful tools, workflows, automation, and data governance help standardize product data to meet these reporting standards.

  • Storage Capabilities:

PIM’s extensive storage capabilities allow businesses to manage and distribute media files showcasing green credentials, from images and videos to regulatory compliance documents.

  • Complete Visibility:

PIM provides complete visibility over the accuracy and completeness of product data, ensuring consistency and conformity across the entire product range.

  • Channel-Specific Publishing:

PIM allows businesses to specify which product data to publish on different sales channels, tailoring information for different audiences.

Navigating Sustainability in Fashion Trends with PIM

As global retail eCommerce accelerates, sustainability emerges as a pivotal trend. Consumers, particularly Millennials and Gen Z, increasingly prioritize sustainability in their purchasing decisions.

Businesses are focusing on reducing environmental impact, with transparency becoming more critical. The circular economy, eco-friendly packaging, fair trade, and ethical supply chains are among the key sustainability trends. AI is increasingly employed by retail brands to analyze supply chains and personalize shopping experiences. PIM facilitates the integration of AI-based tools, contributing to sustainability efforts. Conveying Sustainability through Product Data:

Importance of Product Information:

Accurate and comprehensive product information is critical for consumers making sustainable choices. Incomplete or inaccurate information can lead to unintended negative environmental impacts.

Messaging in Product Data:

Customers seek information on ingredients, packaging, energy and resource use, carbon footprint, certifications, supply chain transparency, product lifespan, and end-of-life management. PIM enables businesses to convey this information effectively.

Digital Product Passport (DPP):

Legislation, such as the proposed Digital Product Passport (DPP) by the European Commission, plays a crucial role in promoting sustainability. DPPs contain essential product information and can facilitate compliance with safety, environmental, and ethical standards.

Wrapping Up: Handling Sustainability in Fashion with PIM

The partnership between retailers and consumers, facilitated by PIM, is crucial for building a sustainable eCommerce ecosystem. Transparent product information, conscious purchasing decisions, and legislative support pave the way for a greener economy, where sustainability becomes the norm rather than an exception.

As we navigate the ever-evolving landscape of eCommerce, embracing sustainable practices through the effective use of PIM is not just a choice but a responsibility. Together, through transparent product information and conscious purchasing decisions, retailers and consumers can make a real difference in building a greener economy.

Connect with our certified PIM experts to learn more about PIM’s role in managing sustainability in the fashion industry.

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