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Guest Column: NFC in retail – The big opportunity

Guest Column: NFC in retail – The big opportunity

Author | Haresh Nayak | Monday, Jul 16,2012 6:48 PM

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Guest Column: NFC in retail – The big opportunity

We know that mobile and social media have evolved and have taken a new lead, but I believe mobile and retail are going to be the future in buying product/services in an informed buying scenario. Given the complexities of new brands featuring their key highlights and features, it makes it a difficult process for a consumer to buy. It has become imperative to buy products in an informed manner. We all are becoming used to compare, detail and buy; hence I believe NFC (Near Field Communication) is the solution to our complex buying process.

The rising number of NFC handsets has led to a growth in the number of NFC applications being deployed across the world. There are many such interesting applications we have come across is the use of NFC in the retail industry.

A quick recap...NFC is a touch-based technology using which users can tap their mobile phone onto another NFC-enabled device such as a mobile phone or a NFC tag to access information.

Imagine this, you finish a hard day of work at the office and you still have tonnes of grocery shopping left to do at your local grocery store. So you walk into a store, pick up a shopping basket and get on with your shopping. Once you are done, you get into a long queue to pay. Although this is quite habitual for most of us, it’s still quite cumbersome as well. You still have delays while paying, you only know how much you are going to spend once you check-out and have limited information on a product and its benefits or risks.

The convenience of shopping where everything is just a click away has been widely seen using e-commerce platforms wherein consumers can comfortably shop using a computer or mobile phone but this channel of retailing is still small as compared to in-store shopping as most consumers still prefer to touch and feel what that they are buying, especially if it is for things such as fresh produce, apparels, cosmetics, etc.

NFC provides the convenience of shopping in a crowded physical setting such as a supermarket.

 

Now imagine this, you pick up your NFC mobile phone and walk across the store and tap the various products you wish to purchase. With every tap, you get information of the product such as its calorie content, health benefits, suitability for children, price compared to competitor products, etc. Once you’ve decided whether you wish to purchase a product you simply press a button on your mobile to add it to your cart.

In the similar manner you move across the store tapping the products you wish to purchase making informed decisions on your purchase and also being able to control your budget as you shop.

You can choose between several delivery options such as instant delivery at a given pick up point, next day home delivery, etc. It is an easy and convenient way of getting your shopping done without any hassle.

In fact the next time you shop, your NFC mobile application will remember your previous purchases allowing you to make a purchase in the convenience of your home. You can add more items to your favourites list the next time you visit the store.

Hyperspace Research – Bringing NFC to the fore
Hyperspace Retail Research team went to 24 retail stores and tried to find its application; our research into NFC found that even early adopters don't really understand what NFC is but once it was demonstrated to them they liked the idea of being able to directly interact with a shelf using their phone.

The Hyperspace Research also suggested that network operators, phone manufacturers, banks, retailers and marketers have a responsibility to inform consumers as to how NFC works and of its benefits.

Companies driving the NFC agenda such as Samsung and Google and interim innovations are therefore to be commended, but I believe that it is now time for retail planners and designers to step up and start adopting this technology.

One might argue that this solution seems too ideal for the world we live in (or rightly said, shop-in) but if retailers chooses to slightly alter their retail value chain to suit a customer’s needs, this solution is easily implementable. Furthermore, this form of shopping is not a thing of the future but is currently been seen across the world.

At Posterscope we have seen successful pilot programmes being conducted in several countries such as France, Spain, UK, Australia and others. Major retailers have adopted NFC to improve sales conversion, up-selling, loyalty programs, couponing, etc. It is time India tried it too.

The insights are from research by Hyperspace Retail, a division of Aegis media.

The author is Managing Director, Posterscope India

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