Can NFC be the bridge between reality and virtual market places?

NFC and the connection to ecommerce

When we first decided to write about Near Field Communication (NFC) I was a bit struggling with the topic.  NFC is up in the news everywhere. Some people are already imagining the end of the wallet as we know it. New mobile phone models – mainly Android OS and some Nokia – are rolled out with NFC technology on board. Also some big real life implementations are taking place right now. Google leads one of the biggest roll outs so far with it’s Google Wallet project.

On top of this just last week my new mobile phone arrived. I went from my old iPhone 3G to a new Nexus S from Google/Samsung. And this machine has also NFC imbedded (which I didn’t really cared of, when I was buying it…). So first thing was to order some NFC tags to play around with my new gadget and the new technology. A couple of apps from the market helped me to write and read my tags, to program my mobile for some try outs.

From the first moment it was pretty clear, that NFC is something that exists in the real physical world as another phone or a tag. So my biggest question remained: Our blog is about ecommerce… where is the connection? Ok, it’s clear that you can tag marketing stuff to let the users read the URL to your webshop / info site. But this has been implemented already by the QR code on broad base. So why use NFC?

The big retailer Tesco finally brought the spark to me. Tesco rolled out a virtual supermarket in South Korea. People there have very little time to go shopping their grocery & dairy products. So Tesco rented huge billboard areas in locations, where lot’s of people are, for example subway stations. There they display huge photographs that resemble the real shelves in their markets. The products have a QR code attached. So the consumers can simply scan the product, type in the quantity they want and go through the check out. Tesco than delivers the goods to the doorstep of the customer. This model was an instant success.

And now there is the idea what NFC can do in ecommerce. It can be the bridge from the real world to the web – much like the QR code, but faster and easier. Not only for a single product, but also as a help for buying more products quickly when you are on the road. So NFC can ease the pain in shopping online with a mobile and can overcome some of the limitations the small devices have (and will always have – since they are small). For reading a tag you simply need to hold the phone to it – no app to start first, nothing to scan.

Just imagine the Tesco model with NFC tags instead of QR codes. Consumers do not even need to launch the QR reader app! They simply need to activate their mobile and lay it on the tag – that’s it. That means even less clicks and faster shopping. The cost for the tags is pretty low, so no obstacle to overcome here. Combined with quick delivery services that can mean a real chance to evolutionize mobile commerce.

NFC implementation becomes more widely available through mobile phones right now. In the near future the major manufacturers will all have NFC implemented in their devices. If the companies selling already online let their creativity spark, there are a lot of interesting ideas how to use NFC as bridge between the real world and the virtual market place. The future will show, what the retail companies will make of this big opportunity to connect real and virtual world…

What ideas can you imagine? Leave a post and let us know!

2 Responses to Can NFC be the bridge between reality and virtual market places?

  1. Pingback: NFC payments still needs time to penetrate markets « ecomPunk

  2. Pingback: NFC revolution news: More NFC phones coming « ecomPunk

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