NFC Mobile Marketing – What’s In It for You?
Near Field Communication can do far more than enable payment by smartphone.
Here’s how focusing on near field can have far reaching consequences for your business.
Remember when QR codes were all the rage? When we could all waste a few seconds fumbling for our phones, switching on the app and trying to get the app to recognise the code?
It says something for the speed of advancement that QR codes quickly became outmoded – because in the era of constant connectivity and instant information, waving your phone around a black and white block, only to find the link to which it pointed was broken or outdated never felt especially cutting edge.
To say NFC shares some of the DNA of QR codes of old is correct, but that’s a bit like saying we share some of our DNA with a sea cucumber. So what is NFC and how can it be your smartest weapon in the battle between high street and online?
What does NFC mean?
NFC stands for Near Field Communications. The tech uses short-range wireless connectivity technology to transfer information between devices in close proximity using radio signals. The broader technology is nothing new – it’s been used for years to, for example, scan your supermarket shopping at the checkout.
What is different about NFC (as opposed to other systems which use radio frequencies), is the frequency it employs, chosen specifically because it’s only effective over very short distances.
How near is near?
The ‘near field’ part of the name is no misnomer. Devices typically need to be within a couple of inches to transfer information.
Are NFC devices in use now?
Yes. If you need to tap your works pass to a reader to access your workplace, or wave a key fob to gain access to your car parking space, you’ve probably been using NFC tech.
In its most high profile applications, NFC technology is what enables you to pay for items in stores by tapping your Apple Pay/Google Pay-enabled phone to the reader.
So NFC technology is just about paying for things or accessing buildings?
Those may have been its earliest applications, but recently NFC technology has been spreading its wings. With tags embedded in product packaging or store labels, new NFC mobile marketing techniques can make full use of the technology, enabling it to play a role far earlier in the sales funnel. Think of it as a next-gen QR code, but with far more potential, greater capability, and more speed.
How can my business use NFC mobile marketing?
At its core, NFC technology offers businesses two big advantages, beyond simply speeding things up at the checkout.
One is its capacity to engage shoppers, the other is its benefit earlier in the supply chain. And both could have significant benefit for your ROI:
• Information: There’s only so much information you can squeeze on a shelf label. And even if you have an army of staff, they can’t be expected to field every question. On most shop floors, of course, that has meant most customers turning to their smartphones for answers, which also inevitably leads them to competitor websites.
• NFC mobile marketing technology enables you to ping product information directly to customers’ phones with a simple tap of phone to NFC tag, reducing the burden on staff, cutting the requirement to constantly revise and update POS material, and limiting the potential for customers to stumble across competitor offers luring them away from your store. That’s especially the case when you add the following element into the mix…
• Vouchers, discounts and latest offers: In addition to information, a tap of phone to product label could also deliver all available offers to a customer’s smartphone, fending off the attack from online competitors, and reducing the onus on the customer to go out and find such offers. It’s this sort of simplicity that gives NFC mobile marketing technology the potential to claw back some of the business drifting from high street to online.
• The cross sell: Let’s suppose you’re buying a new TV. One tap of your phone to the label, and immediately you’re presented with the correct cables, soundbar, warranty and payment option information. NFC makes cross-selling easier.
• Loyalty: What does NFC mean for customer loyalty programmes? Greater simplicity and a more joined up experience. Imagine, for example, configuring the NFC tag with smartphone loyalty applications, enabling you to show how a current points balance could be used to pay for a product.
• Accessibility: It’s one thing to be able to use NFC technology to expand on the information contained on a product label. But what about when your customers can’t read the label to begin with? Here’s a great example of how NFC mobile marketing technology is being used to support the visually impaired, so when they tap, their phone provides a verbal description of the product.
• Driving the next sale: The capabilities of NFC technology don’t need to stop at the shop. The explosion in Internet of Things enabled products has created lots of potential for interaction between products and home devices. This NFC-enabled wine bottle, for example, reminds the customer when they opened the it so they know when it’s time to return to the store and buy a fresh one.
Does using NFC still mean opening an app?
It depends on the smartphone or device your customers are using, but increasingly, no. Whilst the ‘entry level’ for NFC requires an app to be opened on the appropriate phone, tablet or piece of wearable tech, new devices like the iPhone Xs, iPhone Xs Max and iPhone XR constantly run the software in the background.
Other manufacturers are likely to follow suit, so whilst the position right now is that anyone could access NFC-enabled benefits on any device, we’re quickly moving to a point where everyone will be exposed to them by default whenever they tap phone to tag.
What does NFC mean for you?
NFC has gone from being the handy enabler of a speedy payment to something far more proactive.
Last year a GP Shopper survey revealed that one third of customers feel nothing when they shop. For an industry built on customer engagement and brand experiences, that’s not good news. But when you add some form of interaction, 86% of customers appreciated it.
NFC mobile marketing creates interaction in a safe, friendly, opt-in way. And businesses across the world are currently seeing the difference that can make to the bottom line.
Need help in exploring the ways NFC technology could benefit your business?
Talk to us or read more here.