How near field communications will change marketing

Multi-coloured smartphone screen

Australia has one of the largest percentage of smartphone ownership of any nation in the world. Two thirds of all new handsets sold are smartphones, and the latest stats show over half of all the 20-million-plus phones in daily use in Australia will be smartphones. It’s definitely changed how the average Australian goes about their business. I would be lost without mine- I use it to access my emails, shares, banking, social networks, GPS, and sometimes I even use it to make calls.

The next big thing we’ll all be hearing about is near field communications. It has real potential to change the marketing landscape even further, by transforming the way we pay for things.

NFC isn’t really new or revolutionary but an extension of what is already available. It’s basically a variation of other short-range wireless technologies already used throughout the world. NFC devices can quickly swap information between devices when they’re close together. You can exchange very small bits of information wirelesly at very close ranges. Things like text, images, URLs or other data will be seamlessly transferred between devices.

Google launched Google Wallet last week, which is an Android app that turns smartphones into a mobile payment system. There are rumours circulating that the new iPhone 5 (apparently launching on the 4th of October) will also have NFC capabilities. But what does that mean for Aussie consumers and marketers?

Comparison Shopping

People are becoming more and more budget conscious. It’s never been easier to find a great deal. You have group buying sites that cover everything, comparative shopping sites such as Lasoo, online stores that can afford smaller margins, and the ability to order from anywhere in the world. Our Gen Y-er proudly announced last week after another package of clothing landed on her desk that she can’t remember the last time she bought clothes from a store.

NFC communication chips will make it just as easy for consumers to make that extra saving. If NFC chips were on everything in stores, consumers could swipe it with their phones and see if they can get a better deal elsewhere. Comparison shopping apps already exist, but a quicker alternative to barcode scanning would be that one bit easier for consumers.

This is where having a strong brand would serve you well. You need to allow the consumer to look beyond pricing and believe in your brand and brand promise. If you provide your customer with an experience rather then just a transaction, you’ll be more likely to retain them. It’s also an opportunity to have an honest look at your pricing and make sure you stay competitive.

Moving People Online

Anyone who follows us on Facebook knows we love QR codes. It’s an easy and novel way to get people out of the real world and engaged online. NFC takes the requirement to swipe something out of the equation. Shoppers would like the ability to swipe their phones over a poster or billboard, and be directed to a website where they can buy or get more info. The only thing QR codes have up on NFC capabilities is that QR codes can be used in print.

Lose the Wallet

Swiping your phone to pay for things is next on the list. Visa has already embraced the touch and go approach. Swipe it by the register, be on your way. Shortening the sales process is great for the consumer, but gives you less time to make an impression on the customer experience.

Instant restaurant reviews, buying tickets, contact exchange, keyless entry into buildings and cars are all things predicted on the NFC horizon. What does this mean for marketers? It’s a new and flexible technology that can be used in many different ways. It’ll replace our credit cards (maybe) and change the way we transact, but I hope it does much more than that. Clever uses will change the way we reach our audience and allow the customer to experience what your business has to offer on another level. We find the possibilities of where NFC can take marketing and business exciting- what about you? Where can you imagine NFC technology making your life easier, or does the idea of another marketing tactic worming it’s way into your day irritate you?

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