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.