Near Field Communication Technology in Europe – Reality?
There’s a belief that exists in today’s marketing mindset that must be respected when answering this question. That maxim is that the customer will drive the answer and you, as the marketer, would be well-advised to listen, learn and heed the sentiments of the customer. The initial push from customer seems to favor the adoption of the technology.
The Customer View
Supporting that premise is a February 2015 report from The NFC Forum and Strategy Analytics that unveiled the results of a comprehensive retail research report and web survey on mobile consumer engagement and purchases, revealing the needs and preferences of today’s mobile-centric consumer. The in-depth report – which includes both observational research of retail scenarios comprising 36 participants and a web survey that included more than 1,000 participants – offers retailers insights into providing more relevant, convenient and enhanced in-store shopping experiences and a better understanding of the full potential of in-store engagement opportunities. Overwhelmingly, NFC technology was preferred over competing alternatives including Bluetooth Beacons and QR codes. The Forum’s related white paper, “NFC Technology: How Changing Consumer Preferences Create New Opportunities for Retailers,” is available at the Forum’s website. The infographic from the report provides insight into how the NFC Forum arrived at that conclusion.
However, keep in mind that the customer is possessed with free will and the sentiments of that group can take dramatic shifts as the user and customer experiences mature with time.
The Retailer’s View
Another reputable discussion on the facts and considerations of NFC from the mobile payments perspective comes from eMarketer. Mobile or proximity payments are a potential major use of NFC technology as it matures. The title of the eMarketer discussion provides some perspective into NFC from the retailer’s perspective, “UK Mobile Payments 2014: A Market Stymied, Despite Potential.”
Despite the vast potential market shown in the chart below, the current state of affairs reveals a stuttering start from the retailer perspective.
As eMarketer goes on to explain, “UK consumers are enthusiastic online shoppers and smartphone users, but infrastructure required for mobile payments to gain equally broad adoption is still being laid. Inertia and competing efforts have allowed several variants and interpretations of mobile payment to emerge.” Another point of clarification is that eMarketer, in this study, defines mobile payments as transactions for goods or services initiated with a mobile phone at the point of sale (POS). Often characterized as “proximity” or “contactless payments,” mobile payments occur in real time in the real world: for example, purchasing a cup of coffee at a local cafe. The broader term, mobile commerce, did not figure into the statistics.
The obvious conclusion is that the retailer doesn’t share the customer enthusiasm for NFC technology … at least not yet. However, the pendulum of customer sentiment is swinging and it represents a powerful force in today’s marketing environment.
Microsoft and Adobe — Empowering Users
From this blog post, we see a futuristic approach to NFC that clearly demonstrates that the technology is still maturing. However, it’s clear that NFC has a potential market and some effort is being expended to develop the opportunities.
So, the answer to the original question proposed in the title is … probably. The opportunities to develop the technology is in place and infrastructure is being laid. How long will take? Consider these questions and thoughts.
The adoption of marketing technology always involves risk. These questions are persistent and generally true. It’s what keeps CMO’s and IT exec up at night. Is your company digitally mature enough to absorb new technology. Do you have the skilled people? Are they organized effectively? Is there support from the C level? Can the new technology exist in harmony with the technology you already have? Well, I’m not here to debate your company’s readiness for digital marketing and the marketing tech that comes with it. But, think about the answers to those questions before you go all in. Near field communication (NFC) technology is a relatively new kid on the block and there are more mature, competing technologies. In the long run however, the customer will drive the solution they want.
If you’re attending our Adobe Summit next week and you’re interested in learning more within retail I would recommend you attend: Closing the gap: why it’s time for retailers to rethink personalisation, in the Personalisation and Optimisation track & The stores of the future — leveraging digital in the store and online during the Industry Afternoon.