Proximity marketing solutions such as NFC tags, beacons, and QR Codes with the aid of IoT have helped brands and businesses of all sizes immensely – to engage customers and to deliver a strong reason to come back.
But, how to use NFC to maximize the influx of in-store customer engagement?
The biggest challenge in-store customers face in outlets that haven’t embraced technology is the lack of convenience ranging from long wait at the check-out lines, on-the-floor assistance, personalized offers and coupons, customer retention, and feedback.
According to RetailDive, experiential shopping is, in actuality, a shopping experience where shoppers can “experience” products via the store’s architecture, product features, or the entire shopping experience altogether with localization, service, and shareability.
Experiential shopping includes augmented reality try-on shoes at Puma, LuluLemon’s live yoga classes, and even breakfast at the infamous New York’s Tiffany’s flagship store.
Experiential shopping is all about experiencing the depth of a product.
Not just that, positive customers’ experience also encourages on-the-spot purchasing – 49% of buyers have made spontaneous purchases because of experiential retail.
So, how to use NFC for an enhanced experiential in-store engagement?
The IKEA experience
Think of the IKEA store experience – the customer experiences the products on display by walking through different set-ups of the store, find what they are looking for, maybe inquire about the product with a sales associate who is armed with a mobile POS tool.
NFC tags could be placed on the items which upon tapping could direct the customer to the buying page and purchases the item without even standing in long check-out lines (Hello QR Code payments).
An NFC tag can be included to create a sense of intrigue amongst the customers, which in turn, can help retain them for longer on the floor.
Some of the methods include –
Tap to know more
Smart trial rooms
2. Cross-selling a product using NFC technology
When customers tap their smartphones on an NFC-embedded product, they are directed to a landing page that shows them a list of products similar to their purchase or based on their cohesive interest.
Suggest products via NFC technology
For instance, during monsoon, suggest purchasing an umbrella if the customer is looking at water-resistant boots. Offer a 25% discount on a product located on the other side of the aisle for customers who have landed on the NFC-directed webpage, and maybe suggest a light refreshment in the store cafeteria if it is close to lunchtime.
3. NFC tags for a harmonized in-store experience
As of today, 67% of customers choose self-service over speaking to a company representative.
Furthermore, 91% of consumers refer to an online source for information, if it were available and tailored to their needs.
Consumers are willing to find the answers themselves.
By 2030, Gartner predicts that a billion service tickets will be raised automatically by customer-owned bots.
This does not mean that customer representatives will be out of jobs; it only implies that customers do not want an over-enthusiastic store executive trailing the customer every step of their purchase.
How to use NFC to provide a self-service customer experience
With the aid of proximity marketing tools such as NFC, beacons, and QR Codes, businesses can help customers feel free. These tools when placed strategically helps customers receive the right information about the product they are looking at.
Four ways to provide self-service customer experience –
Provide assistance only if the customer looks in distress, confusion, or needs assistance – use NFC tags to answer usual product questions or request an executive to stop by and help them.
Offer guided selling by dispersing on-the-floor employees to help customers and gauge their real-time behavior using Analytics to blend the algorithmic recommendations.
Provide in-store demo for customers who raise concerns over any product(s) usage on a one-on-one basis to offer more personalization.
Learn where the customers are coming from and about them to identify points of interaction and provide them with the right customer assistance, with the help of NFC tags and stickers.
NFC technology is widely popular for its one stand-alone feature: payments.
As a part of increasing customer retention, simplifying a customer’s major problem during the point of sale – the hassle of fumbling with credit card, debit card, and cash, has been finally eliminated with the implementation of NFC.
When a customer taps on NFC-enabled payment gateway, they are directed to their digital wallets to complete the transaction.
According to eMarketer, mobile-enabled proximity payments using NFC technology are estimated to increase to $118 billion in the US alone this year, up from $3.5 billion in 2014.
Digital wallets and NFC mobile payments work in tandem, further amplifying the customer experience by letting them pay online with their saved card information with a single tap.
Mobile payments are swift, convenient, and promote a frictionless shopping experience. NFC-enabled payments are also secure as it eliminates the need to enter any existing password repeatedly.
Encourage customers to leave feedback via NFC technology
When customers are paying via NFC, prompt them to leave feedback about the brand or the product used in the past, and their experience. Collect the feedback(s) to analyze and improve the business/brand, and retarget existing customers.
NFC technology: The era of hyper-personalization
NFC technology can help any business stand out by offering a hyper-personalized experience to any and every customer.
How to use NFC tags for hyper-personalization
NFC offers a hyper-personalized in-store customer experience by
Offering fine-tuned offers and discounts
Loyalty programs suited to every kind of customer
Push relevant notifications to the consumer when they are in close proximity to the product upon tapping, and
Stay with them even the post-purchase journey
English Blinds, a customized and high-end blinds company based out of the UK incorporated NFC stickers to enable shoppers to find out more about individual product lines and the options available for customizing them.
John Moss, the CEO of English Blinds says, “The subtle integration of NFC stickers has enabled us to bridge the gap between mood and supporting information, and also enables shoppers to bookmark, save, and compare details of our product lines to find out more, consider later on, or request further information for.
In this way, our use of NFC stickers has technically enabled us to improve interactivity in and of itself, but more so, it has helped us to ensure that nothing (like displayed pricing and other commercial/sales-based elements) detract from the interactivity we’re promoting and creating by means of our immersive set-based shopper experience.”
How to use NFC to provide a distinct customer experience
Retailers and brands can benefit from this advantage to their maximum to apprise their customers that they indeed do care about them, to amplify the customer experience.
According to a study by Deloitte, every consumer wants a distinct shopping experience and that ‘experience’ has become the evolving factor for many successful business models.
It also says that consumers are growing “less tolerant of brands that do not provide an easy and seamless experience.”
With NFC technology, brands can offer customers a seamless, frictionless, and engaging shopping experience that can also trump their competitors.
Why use NFC for in-store customer engagement?
According to a study by RetailDive, 85% of consumers use their smartphones when shopping in-store for better recommendations and price comparison.
Apple, with the release of its iPhone 6 introduced NFC readers, ultimately increasing the extensive usage of NFC. Plus, with the release of iOS 11, Apple didn’t need its users to install third-party NFC readers to read NFC tags.
Android smartphone manufacturers introduced NFC readers back in 2010 with Samsung and Nexus. With the introduction of NFC readers in Apple and Android devices, more and more businesses and brands are leveraging NFC technology.
Growth of NFC technology
There are about 1,5 billion NFC-enabled smartphones in the world right now and this will only aggravate the growth of NFC.
In addition to this, the installation of NFC costs just under a few dollars and is easy to troubleshoot.
With an increased opportunity, businesses of all sizes can acquire these hi-fidelity customizable off-the-shelf tags and place them strategically throughout their premises to boost in-store customer engagement.
Brands using NFC technology for in-store customer engagement
The Timberland’s Manhattan flagship store in Herald Square provided its visitors with technological “Sherpas” in the form of NFC-enabled tablets that were available at the kiosks.
Shoppers had to use the tablet to tap on a tagged product and upon tapping, information about the product came up on the screen.
Around 50% of the store’s inventory was equipped with NFC tags. There was also a separate “tap wall” that showcased only online inventory.
Shoppers could tap on those product images to view expanded product information and add those items to a personalized shopping list, containing both online and in-store products.
Timberland’s VP of Direct to Consumer Kate Kibler says, “The technology helps us gain exposure for some of the ‘lesser-known’ Timberland products such as Men’s apparel and Women’s Footwear, through the product recommendation engine.”
Why this helped them
The NFC technology helped the retailer brand to increase customer engagement through the purchase cycle –
Data collection – The NFC tag was integrated to collect data from the customer via the tablet until the end of the interaction and asks them for their email address. As many as 50% of shoppers that picked up the tablet provided their work email addresses.
Personalization – The post-visit emails were personalized based on the customer’s store activity, with tagged or selected items placed well within the banners.
Factor of trust – NFC technology helped them gain more trust as it reduces the “creep factor” since the technology does not snoop into shoppers’ personal devices and only sends out curated personalized offers based on their shopping activity.
Tracking – The retail store could track, analyze and interpret their shoppers’ behavior in real-time and gauge how they reacted with their products and brand. The brand saw a 25%-35% tablet usage upon entering the store.
Credit points – Due to the positive usage of the tablet, the retail store started adding credit for shoppers who used signed in on the tablets, for both online and in-store sales. This added an extra touch to the entire customized shopping experience.
Adidas introduced a new range of NFC-enabled footballs for the 2018 World Cup – Telstar NFC Ball. The NFC chip is located on the top of the ball, just under the tiny WiFi-esque symbol.
An NFC chip is inserted inside the ball and when customers tap their smartphone on the symbol, the customer is directed to the Telstar 18 experience directly.
The Telstar 18 experience offered a plethora of exclusive information about the product and Adidas football content. In addition to this, it also offered special competitions and challenges.
Shoppers were encouraged to film themselves whilst performing the challenges with the ball and upload them. The features were also updated in the run-up to the World Cup.
Why this helped them
The NFC Telstar ball did not need customers to download an extra NFC-reader app to experience the fabulousness of the football. This encouraged more audience to buy and tap their smartphones to read the NFC tag to either perform the challenges or to simply know more about the product.
The entire process was very simple and took only about ten seconds. The NFC tag also indicated to customers that the product was authentic upon tapping the football and receiving a message saying “Authenticated”.
The company successfully sold thousands of footballs by enveloping a blanket a trust amongst its shoppers via the NFC chip.
The NFC-enabled football also gave some of the customers access to an augmented experience via an app or the webpage.
Matthew Bright, Chairman of NFC Forum Retail and Payment SIG says, “Brands and retailers need innovative and intuitive tools to connect with today’s consumers and compete effectively in a mobile-first, omnichannel world.
NFC technology allows brands and retailers to connect quickly, easily and reliably with consumers at every step of the customer journey – pre-purchase, in-store and post-purchase.”
For any kind of consumer, time and convenience are the two main drivers of their purchase decision. Consumers either purchase in-store if they cannot wait for shipping or purchase online because they do not have the time to visit a store.
Either way, convenience, and ease are at the heart of a good customer engagement experience. By deploying NFC tags, businesses can make shopping easier, amplifying the overall customer experience.
If a customer likes a brand, they may come back to buy again but if a customer loves a brand, they will definitely pick them over the competitors.
Beyond streamlining payments, NFC technology creates noninvasive opportunities for businesses to inform and persuade shoppers.
Whether employing NFC technology to create novel in-store experiences, improve the ease of shopping or streamline the payment transaction process, a plethora of opportunities await businesses interested in getting the most out of NFC technology.
With many schools and universities slated to reopen in the fall-term, getting back to normal will take time. Moving to contactless solutions and touchless access controls may not solve hardships, but these are important tools that will establish safe environments for students and the staff.
Major brands such as Hilton and Marriott are turning to no-touch operations with electrostatic sprayers, sealed hotel rooms, mobile check-in, and contactless ordering. When building a reopening strategy, it is important to opt for contactless solutions for hotels to make guests feel clean, safe, and comfortable.
As the world continues to sail through uncertainty in the newly adopted world, businesses are faced with many challenges – shifting business hours, fluctuating supply chains, and protecting their employees – all while ensuring that the public health is a priority whilst taking these decisions.
Contactless solutions will be the new future in a post-pandemic world. Contactless technologies such as NFC tags and QR Codes are on the rise and will continue to be in existence since it promotes zero-touch.