Is near field communications’ marketing potential being overlooked by retailers and brands?

Near field communications (NFC) allow people to pay for products by swiping their phone near a reader. The technology can be embedded into everything from smart posters to product packaging, leading to all manner of practical applications.

Alex Horner, retail digital expert at LIDA, says that with more and more phones sporting this technology, it’s time to look at its broader and more interesting uses on the shopfloor and beyond. He suggests four aspects to consider for starters:

  • Packaging and shelving opportunities: “For instance, hold your phone near your favourite wines to be directed to a tasting video and accompaniment suggestions”
  • Location-based check-ins: “Remove the hassle of opening apps, turning on the GPS and searching for venues by installing NFC-equipped plaques at the entrance to venues. Send customers an offer at the same time”
  • Purchase from a poster: “There could be the potential to purchase and download tracks from a smart poster ad for an album and watch an exclusive video interview with the star,” for example
  • Consider personalised ads: “See your name, image or tailored recommendations on digital billboards with a wave of your handset

Technology already exists to carry out all these functions, but current mobile response methods are either clunky and slow - such as turning bluetooth on and off - require technical know-how, or cost users money - such as SMS shortcodes. The alternative, says Horner, is obvious: “Instead, place your phone within 10cm of another NFC-equipped device and have the content sent straight to you. It’s this simplicity that will see NFC become the dominant mobile direct response technology in the next few years, not merely the dominant mobile payment method.”