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Safeway tests NFC smartphone technology


Safeway and NFC specialist Thinaire recently partnered in a marketing pilot to see if the smartphone technology could be used to create deeper user engagement with brands.

NFC, or Near Field Communication, is a short-range wireless connectivity technology that will allow NFC-enabled devices to be used as widely as credit cards with a quick tap of a smartphone, payment is completed.

While much of the industry focuses on the e-wallet aspect of NFC, the sponsors of this project together with coupon publisher News America Marketing (NAM) felt the technology could be used to increase customer engagement, according to a report.

According to, the pilot test of NFC and QR codes took place at five Safeway grocery stores in California's San Francisco Bay Area this summer, a region noted for its higher concentration of NFC-enabled smartphone users.

NFC tags were embedded in NAM shelftalk promotional units carrying advertisements for Kraft cheese and Nabisco cookie brands, said the article. QR codes were also printed on the units for shoppers without an NFC phone.

The units were placed adjacent to the products they were promoting and invited consumers to tap their smartphones for interactive experiences, ranging from a series of new recipe interactions and immediate download of the brand's popular i-Food Assistant app, to inputs on other Kraft products, and the ability to share any of those experiences with friends.

The results showed that NFC phone users' engagement with Kraft shelf-edge advertisements was twelve times higher than the engagement level of those who used mobile barcodes.

Experts forecast that by 2015 there will be 630 million NFC enabled smartphones in use.

The companies involved in the pilot said that over 36 per cent of shoppers who tapped the NFC enhanced shelftalk converted it into action, whether saving a recipe, or downloading the Kraft app or sharing with friends.

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