By: Andrew Levi, CEO of Blue Calypso
NFC IS HERE! NFC IS FINALLY HERE!! Well almost…. At Apple’s developer conference this week, while not highlighted as a shiny new feature or gadget, Apple said they would FINALLY open the NFC chip to third parties. For those of you who are wondering what the heck “NFC” is, Near Field Communications is a special micro-chip and protocol within mobile devices that power very close range communications between active (phones) and passive devices (chips that get power from a close-range phone signal). Essentially, all a user would need to do is tap their phone to a pre-programmed NFC chip and their phone will automatically open up the corresponding app or website and deliver the intended content or perform the intended action. NFC is what powers Apple Pay. If you are an Android user, your device has likely had NFC capabilities for several years (lucky dogs). But Apple has, until IOS 11 (due this fall) kept the NFC chip locked for use exclusively by Apple Pay.
What does this mean? In other words, what can NFC do for us marketers…? It is my belief that ubiquitous NFC (active and available on every mobile device) is possibly the single biggest game changer for the physical shopping experience we have seen thus far in AdTech. It could save (or at least help innovate) retail as well as the experience that consumers have both in physical retail and with the products they purchase.
There are countless “flavor-of-the-day” startups who are slaving over hot source code building the next retail engagement platform (we are one…). But what we have not seen from these purported “game changers”, “innovators” and “market leaders” is the ability to change the path to purchase in a meaningful way. Either A.) it takes too many tech components (a mobile app, Bluetooth, beacons, GPS, enabled location services, etc.), or; B.) they are too creepy to convince a shopper to engage and surrender their anonymity. Both scenarios introduce friction and thus have not catalyzed the evolution of the shopping journey.
Introduce NFC…. Imagine the ability to tap your phone on an aisle endcap, window cling or product display to get immediate product details, price comparison and even location-centric deals, discounts and offers. In this scenario, control of the digitally supplemented shopping journey is held by the shopper – not the retailer or the brand attempting to disrupt your footfall. And NFC is cheap and easy to deploy. When coupled with a powerful platform which supports multiple methods of consumer engagement, a brand or retailer will be empowered with optics into what, how and when engagement happens, as well as insight into conversion rates at each step of the shopping journey. A novel idea – transparency to shopper marketing ROI – say it isn’t so. Yep – it IS so, and its right around the corner. We believe that NFC will create a frictionless path to engagement which will revolutionize the way people interact with brands and retailers on their path to purchase. Thank you Apple! Its about time!