NFC in Retail–The Big Opportunity

This week has been very exciting for Near Field Communications (NFC) at the Mobile World Congress 2012 in Barcelona. Major handset manufacturers have announced the launch of NFC phones with about 10 mobile NFC phones scheduled to be launched in 2012.

The rising number of NFC handsets has lead to a growth in the number of NFC applications being deployed across the world. One of the most interesting applications we have come across is the use of NFC in the retail industry.

As 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 tons 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.

 NFC_Stores

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 on 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.

There is no longer a need for you to pay by queuing up at the check-out counter instead you can pay for your purchase using your NFC phone on the way out.

NFC_Retail

You can choose between several delivery options such as instant delivery at a given pick up point, next day home delivery etc. 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 favorites list the next time you visit the store.

One might argue that this solution seems too ideal for the world we live in (or rightly said, shop-in) but if a retailer 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.

We have seen successful pilot programs being conducted in several countries such as France, Spain, UK, Australia etc. Major retailers have adopted NFC to improve sales conversion, up-selling, loyalty programs, couponing etc.

Imagine getting the right message to a customer when they are in the right place i.e. your store.

What’s your take on NFC opportunity?

Also see: Understanding NFC [Hint: It’s not a subset of RFID]

[About the author – Vaibhav Puri is the CEO and Founder of Taggito S.L., a NFC focused mobile technology, based out of Madrid, Spain. www.taggito.com. He is reachable on vaibhav@taggito.com]

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