Smart Posters: New ways to engage with customers using NFC

 ‘Smart posters’ are set to make a major impact as market penetration of near field communications (NFC) enabled smart phones inevitably increases. NFC enables handsets to communicate wirelessly with a chip – or ‘tag’ as it’s known – that’s embedded within a smart poster, and receive all manner of information – from directions to discount vouchers.

The essential lure of smart posters is that they offer an easy, instant and elegant way to interact with nearby customers, whether it’s to sell products, communicate messages, offer directions, or a hundred and one other applications – many still just a twinkle in their developer’s eye. NFC technology enables smart posters to send tailored, relevant informationon requestto a smart phone using radio waves. Customers simply swipe the smart poster’s clearly signposted tag – and hey presto: all manner of information is ‘beamed’ to their phone.

NFC is already available in a growing number of handsets, with big names like Nokia, RIM, Samsung and also the new eagerly awaited iPhone 5, set to be launched later this year. It’s expected to be on board 30% of the world’s smart phones in just three years’ time.

Smart posters offer an easy and instant way to communicate with customers, and will particularly appeal to a techno-savvy younger generation, which has grown up with online and mobile – and which also happens to have a high disposable income.

For retailers, smart posters promise a unique permission-marketing channel, enabling them to offer detailed point of sale information on demand. There’s scope to then build on interest through special offers or by presenting information on similar items, along familiar “people who bought this, also looked at these…” lines.

NFC’s two-way communication capability means marketers can garner rich analytics about buying behaviour, to use as part of future offers or in concert with loyalty schemes. Smart posters can also encourage footfall in the first place, through incentives like vouchers that can be redeemed in store.

But perhaps it’s with Wayfinding that smart posters really come into their own, offering new opportunities for rich, ‘digital signposting’ everywhere, from universities to shopping centres. Meanwhile attractions like museums can deliver a multi-dimensional experience, through detailed information about specific exhibits in virtually any language, perhaps with additional multimedia content or links. The possibilities really are manifold – and all just a quick tap away!

While much of the impetus driving NFC-enabled smart phones has been around their development as an instant payment platform, other applications such assmart posters are quietly set to revolutionise everything – from how we shop, to how we view art.