The smartphone – a personal shopper for everyone

Tap, tap, tap.

Could this sound soon become music to the ears of retailers?

The tap-to-pay technology of Near Field Communications (NFC) looks set to make huge inroads into how shoppers pay for things and how retailers target offers and information.

Who wouldn’t be attracted to a system that lets you pay in a blink of an eye, or register for in-house services and information in an instant?

Jupiter Research estimates that one in five smartphones will support NFC by 2014, with 300 million NFC-capable devices available by then.

As we’ve seen in the news, tiny NFC chips have turned mobile phones into wallets which can let shoppers make fast, easy payments or send and receive information with the swipe of the hand. It’s also simmering nicely because Citigroup and Google are making a lot of noise with the Google Wallet app, and Barclaycard is piloting NFC services in the UK.


Mark McDonnell, Retail sector, BT Global Services

Despite the success of London’s Oyster card for contactless payment (seven million users), Jupiter believes the more immediate revenue opportunity is not in payments, but in retail through offering coupons and smart posters over NFC. In other words, highly targeted marketing aimed at desirable smartphone users.

Imagine walking into a shop and thanks to a swipe of your phone on a tag at the door you are presented with shopping suggestions that match your buying habits – a sort of personalised mannequin. You could also have the ability to upload your potential buys onto social media sites to get others’ opinions. The pop-up on your phone may also tell you where the items are in the shop and how to get there. So your smartphone almost becomes your personal shopper.

It’s a far cry from today’s hassle of trying to find what you want in a shop and not knowing if it’s in stock or where exactly it is.

Such changes are all part of a more customer-facing approach made possible through Wi-Fi provision and enhanced by NFC and GPS.

Funny to think how something as innocuous as a tap could turn out to make a huge difference to the bottom line.

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