NFC Gives us the Power of Interactive Packaging
Have you ever had the fear you might become too dependent and attached to your smartphone? Well, I have to tell that your tag along friend is becoming even more handy – your codependency is about to increase.
Yes the latest smartphone technology is called Near Field Communications or NFC. It uses a radio signal that has a limited range of a couple of feet. As I’ll discuss below, that range can be extended or shortened. Some devices even, will only transmit when touching or tapping another device. That offers some very good security protection.
After Bitcoin was hacked and ripped off for $2 billion, we’re all on edge now about hacking, identity theft, fraud, and the security of our mobile phones. Still, there’s no going back. Soon your credit cards, bank cards, building security cards, and store coupons will disappear. They’ll be integrated into these new phones.
For manufacturers, the attraction comes from cost efficiency and consumer reach. What company wouldn’t want to lower costs and increase market reach at the same time?
And How about Consumer Impact?
NFC phones are being produced by the hundreds of millions (of course we need to throw out our old one). Strangely, there is a shortage of applications that use this technology. That represents a huge opportunity for app developers looking to help companies, including manufacturers innovate their way to success (or at least cut costs).
Yes, RFID is the technology that will bring consumers together with retail packaging and displays. Imagine if your display could interact with each shopper passing by? What kind of brand impact would you have? Could it talk a consumer into buying one cough syrup or pain medication over another? How about an instant coupon for correctly answering a fun question? And the limits for promotional ties to social media are endless.
All that’s needed is a special printer designed to print out passive rfid tags. You could use QR codes too for interactive packaging, however RFID is expected to become the dominant interactive packaging tag.
Passive RFID Tags are magnetized printed circuits which are electrically activated when a power source comes near them. Active RFID tags are powered by an electrical source. They can act on their own without a phone, scanner, or other device nearby.
So, when you wave your phone across a NFC chip or device, it not quite magic. An NFC id chip is a printed label (Avery is producing them now). The next step is to print an rfid tag into the product or packaging itself where it can’t be seen by the human eye. And any energy given off by the tag won’t harm human tissue. This technology is already here.
As shoppers enter stores and pass products on the shelf, they will find a very receptive and vocal group of products waiting for them. This definitely takes packaging and POP displays to a new level.
The End of POS
The aspect that gets all the attention these days is using NFC at the checkout counter. But then, we may see the checkout counter disappear. POS may be no more. Shoppers will simply load into their shopping bag whatever they want in the store and then leave without a word. The transaction will be handled entirely through their smartphone.
How about security. New smartphones have finger print readers on the screen or built into the ON button. They could also use other types of biometric scanning to ensure the person’s identity.
Let’s Sum it Super Quick
Transaction efficiency, ease of use, and better reach to consumers. It’s good for shoppers and good for manufacturers and marketers. RFID may have started as an inventory control method, but it’s way beyond that now. Fascinating to consider where it will all go.