By Marcus Leach

In recent times the retail experience has become ‘connected’, with companies using digital signage and QR codes to communicate with customers via their smartphones.

However, such technology and devices could soon become obsolete with Near Field Communication, or as it is more commonly known, NFC, predicted to make the greatest impact in the world of retail.

Commenting on these developments, Mark Bartlett, Managing Director of Signbox Ltd, who have recently rolled out a range of Enlighten NFC smart posters, said, “QR codes can be viewed as just a stop gap until the number of NFC enabled smartphones in use reach a critical mass, and that will not be far away — recent research indicates that NFC chip shipments will surpass 1.2 billion units by 2015, the same year the technology is expected to reach a 30% global smartphone penetration.”

Interestingly, a new report by ABI Research forecasts that by 2016 70% of NFC tag shipments will be utilised in smart posters or for other marketing uses, with retailers able to embed the technology into advertisements and a variety of other marketing collateral.

This trend supports other recent research that the NFC market is moving away from a focus solely on mobile payments towards marketing uses. And it’s not just store owners and campaign managers that will be able to deliver tailored and customised messages direct to target audiences via their NFC enabled smartphones with a simple, fast swipe of a poster. NFC technology is also presenting opportunities for information delivery in a wide variety of industries including Property, Leisure and Transport. A phone can read an NFC tag through glass, which enables business to stay ‘open’ 24-hours a day allowing consumers to tap their mobile phone to download an entire bus timetable, restaurant menu or details of a property even when a business is closed. When a smartphone becomes a portable NFC reader the possibilities are endless and very exciting.

Certainly a key driver that will fuel the growth and take up this technology is that it’s likely to be hugely popular with consumers because by its nature NFC is ‘opt in’ unlike Bluetooth and location-based services, providing consumers with more control and countering any concerns regarding privacy.

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