NFC at NRF
NFC was a pervasive theme at the 2012 NRF show held this week in New York City. Technology vendors of all types were talking about their plans for integrating NFC into their product portfolios and, in many cases, displaying their latest NFC-enabled solutions. Whereas NFC is a nascent, still-developing technology, its presence remains somewhat confined to a few key product categories, but as consumer adoption of NFC smartphones scales in 2012 and beyond, we expect to see an increasingly broad range of customer engagement/retail automation solutions incorporate NFC into their design. What follows is an overview of some of the notable NFC activity at this year’s NRF.
- ViVOtech introduced its ViVOtouch NFC solution, which is mobile marketing software platform that allows merchants to deliver targeted/personalized content, offers and loyalty programs to customers via their NFC-enabled mobile devices. This solution also allows for interactive shopping and NFC-enabled information retrieval on the store floor, further enhancing the shopping experience. Contactless payment is certainly a hot topic, but as a standalone application its ROI potential probably is not strong enough for most enterprises to justify investment. We believe solutions such as this will drive the adoption of contactless payment NFC solutions in retail.
- NFC payment terminal leader VeriFone introduced its PAYware Mobile Enterprise for Tablets, a secure payment acceptance solution that is compatible with the company’s GlobalBay Mobile POS solution. The solution is designed to run on Apple’s iPad 2, and provides the same functionality offered by the original iPod-touch based PAYware solution. PAYware for Tablets has the same fully secure encryption as previous versions of the solution, and enables the acceptance of traditional payment cards, PIN/EMV smartcards and NFC contactless payments. The solution adds further utility for merchants via a built-in 2D barcode scanner for item scanning, coupon acceptance and inventory management.
- INSIDE Secure demonstrated its NFC-based solutions for consumer and product authentication in retail. The solution enables shoppers to verify the authenticity of high-end/luxury goods and allows merchants to confirm the identity of customers. Whereas mobile devices, particularly smartphones, are becoming an increasingly prevalent element of retail marketing strategies and consumer shopping behavior, we expect that solutions leveraging NFC for brand and user authentication will become increasingly popular among retailers of luxury and other high-end goods.
Mobility and customer engagement have been pervasive themes with retail for some time now. NFC offers retailers a way to achieve both of these strategic objectives in a manner that is reliable, fast and easily-scalable. As consumer adoption of NFC gains momentum, we expect to see an increasingly diverse range of retail technology solutions support this technology.