Matthew Bright, Chair, Retail & Payment Special Interest Group, NFC Forum

Retail is transforming before our eyes. While industry experts will continue to argue over whether traditional retail is actually in crisis, it’s crystal clear that retail has entered a period of significant disruption. For savvy brands and retailers of all types, this disruption means opportunity: a chance to build better relationships with customers, a chance to blend in-store and online retail, and a chance to improve consumer experience in a way that benefits retailers, brands, and consumers alike. Retail decision makers must educate themselves about the benefits, challenges, and tradeoffs inherent in the digital transformation of retail.

Download the Next Generation Retail & Brand Experience infographic now!

Now that 90% of smartphone owners use their phones while in-store and 2 of every 3 millennials attribute brand loyalty to online content, retail stakeholders need to blend the physical and digital worlds in a way that embraces mobile technology as a fundamental part of the path to purchase.

To make sense of these changes, the NFC Forum’s Retail & Payment SIG developed a fresh infographic – incorporating the latest industry expertise – to clarify the opportunities created by new retail technologies. It’s divided into three sections: an overview of the changing retail landscape, a guide to how each step of the consumer journey (pre-purchase, in-store, and post-purchase/reorder) can be enhanced with NFC and complementary retail technologies (including Bluetooth beacons and RAIN RFID), and information about the important tradeoffs inherent in enhancing the retail consumer experience with technology.

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With many technology choices at their disposal, retailers and brands will certainly evaluate and experiment with different solutions to find the optimal technology fit for their brand and store goals. To this end, NFC enables a uniquely broad collection of experiences, spanning from pre-purchase consideration (facilitating product research and comparison shopping in-store) to a fast, simple, and secure NFC payment at the point of sale, to loyalty integration, usage tips, and repurchase/reorder facilitation at the point of product use. Other retail technologies simply lack that continuity across the entire consumer journey, and NFC’s ubiquity allows it to add richness to retail spaces and products – throughout the buying process – while speeding up and enhancing the payment experience.

Where Will We See NFC?

As retail evolves, expect to see in-store NFC tags – on shelf displays, on packages, and on products themselves – that educate, entertain, and motivate shoppers to consider and ultimately purchase the product. As shoppers expect a higher level of service, expect NFC touchpoints to launch digital service experiences from buying guides to highly contextual chatbots to answer questions and facilitate a purchase decision. At the moment of purchase, expect NFC to integrate loyalty, offers, and secure payments in a fast, frictionless user experience. And once you’ve used up a product, expect NFC to enable omnichannel (physical + online) reordering or directions to the nearest in-stock product, all through an NFC-enabled package and the tap of an NFC-enabled mobile device.

The experts participating in the NFC Forum’s Retail & Payments SIG will next develop a white paper expanding on NFC’s role in enhancing each stage of the consumer journey. While the document will certainly cover in-store retail, it’s not enough to consider only the traditional retail environment. We’ll also discuss NFC’s ability to enhance omnichannel retail (including e-commerce home delivery) as well as NFC’s role in non-traditional retail, from kiosks to vending machines.

All NFC Forum members are encouraged to participate in this important initiative. Learn more about the benefits of being an NFC Forum member here.