Mobile technology affords retailers and brands new opportunities to improve consumer communication and engagement, but today’s digital landscape is increasingly complex. Many retailers and brands continue to struggle to understand which technologies, tools and strategies will lead to better in-store experiences, increased sales and long-term customer loyalty trust. Consumers are paying with their smartphones at hundreds of thousands of locations, from fast food restaurants and vending machines to national retailers like Macy’s, Staples, Toys “R” Us and Walgreens. However, some retailers have long decision and implementation cycles for new payment types. Regardless of their schedules and decisions about mobile payments, how can any retailer best use new technologies to improve customer engagement on the sales floor and even after purchase?

Consumers’ attention spans are shorter than ever, and they expect easy, real-time communication with brands. To win attention, retailers and brands must engage consumers in the most personal and relevant ways. We know that mobile is at the heart of more meaningful, holistic engagement, but understanding consumer attitudes and preferences is critical when developing and employing engagement strategies.

With this in mind, the NFC Forum commissioned leading global consumer research firm Strategy Analytics to help retailers and brands better understand the preferences of today’s always-on, mobile consumer. The firm gathered and analyzed data relating to end-user preferences and perceptions of NFC in a retail setting, and the comprehensive study revealed six specific opportunities in which retailers and brands can use NFC technology during the customer journey to improve in-store experiences, generate more sales, and enhance customer loyalty and trust. Consumers were particularly excited to use NFC to access:

  • Store deals, store Wi-Fi, and rewards account
  • Multimedia content and real-time store inventory
  • Information about related products and accessories
  • A digital, NFC-enabled shopping cart on their phones
  • Product information for large purchases
  • Exact refill cartridge information and one-touch reorder capability

What’s more, NFC was preferred by a significant margin over QR codes, Bluetooth beacons and browsers in all of these use cases.

The study also revealed that:

  • Over 75% of respondents who used NFC were very satisfied with their experience.
  • More than 75% of respondents indicated an interest in viewing additional product information including inventory and availability via NFC.
  • Over 60% were interested in using NFC to order the replacement parts or accessories for products, such as ink and toner cartridges for printers.

For more information on the study and its findings, you can download the white paper, “NFC Technology: How Changing Consumer Preferences Create New Opportunities for Retailers,” on the NFC Forum website and watch a replay of our February 12 webinar, “Consumer Perspectives on In-Store Engagement Technology.”

Thanks to this data we have a much deeper understanding of how today’s retail consumers want to be engaged. Consumers told Strategy Analytics that they prefer NFC’s speed, efficiency, and user control, and it may be difficult for retailers to ignore the 75% of shoppers who want to use NFC technologies while in store.

With more than 500 million NFC-enabled phones in the market today and more than a billion by the end of this year, the time for NFC is now. Beyond its superior ease of use, NFC is well suited to building loyalty among consumers and delivering personalized experiences. In today’s increasingly competitive landscape, these benefits must not be overlooked.

How are you successfully using technology to engage your customers during the in-store shopper journey? Are you struggling to convert offline consumers to online brand loyalists? Would increasing the reorder rate of branded consumables make a difference for your brand? If you are interested in introducing NFC to your brand or retail environment we’d love to talk. Send me an email at [email protected] to start the conversation.

Matthew Bright is the Retail Working Group Chair of the NFC Forum and the head of product and technical marketing at the Thin Film Electronics NFC Innovation Center in San Jose, California.