Personalized marketing using NFC needs to be managed with care

By January 19, 2012
customer woman shopping

The software and systems company ViVOtech, which specialises in contactless Near Field Communication, has launched its ViVOtouch platform for retailers. The aim is to be able to send promotional information to customers via their mobile devices on their arrival at the store.


You go into a store and wave your mobile telephone in front of a post before moving on to the sales space. Immediately a voucher, which is valid for the time you are in the store, is downloaded on to your mobile device. This is the type of marketing initiative that ViVOtech's new software platform, ViVOtouch, is designed for.  Using near field communication (NFC), the tool enables vendors and stores to personalise their marketing initiatives in real time. Customers who have given their authorisation, and are already listed in the merchant’s database, can receive SMS announcements, plus vouchers and information on current promotions, the moment they arrive at the store. To take advantage of the system, customers will need a telephone fitted with an NFC chip, which they wave in front of the contactless point of entry on arrival. The messages sent to the customer will depend on his/her known buying habits and interests.

Unified CRM needed

ViVOtouch comes in a matrix bar code (QR Code) version or a version using geolocation  data from the mobile signal, but the aim is the same in both cases: to target customers in the most relevant way possible, directly, on the spot - not before and not afterwards. There's one condition to be met: a fairly large body of NFC-enabled mobile devices, as they have in Japan, where this technology is widely used. But that's not all. "An entire customer relationship management system will need to put in place, to avoid having database layers piled up on top of each other like a millefeuille cake", warns Jérôme Gayet, an m-commerce consultant, speaking to l'Atelier. That means setting up a single customer database which is channel-independent - i.e. it could for instance use SMS, NFC, email, QR code or tablets. But this would require a broad rethink of information systems, including for the e-commerce pure-players' sites as well.

Risk of marketing activity being discredited

"The e-commerce sector has moved very fast and not everyone has given thought to all the dissemination channels that were about to come into being," explains the m-commerce consultant. This is understandable because when e-commerce started, many of today's channels simply didn't exist, NFC being a case in point. This has resulted in the proliferation of parallel databases, which can't always talk to each other. At the end of the day this is likely to alienate customers, or at the very least create mistrust of new marketing channels. "Just imagine a customer receiving an SMS message, then a different promotional email, and then a third piece of information via NFC. That spells incomprehension and dissatisfaction. You risk confusing your customer and discrediting your marketing initiative," warns Jérôme Gayet.

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