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Friday, November 1, 2013

WIMA USA bolsters digital engagement

The third annual WIMA USA conference and exhibition, held in South San Francisco, Calif., in late October 2013, attracted an international consortium of leaders in near field communication (NFC), as well as proximity- and cloud-based mobile solutions. The opening day focused on NFC and proximity solutions for marketers. Retail and other vertical markets were highlighted during the second day; mass transportation, wellness and health care were addressed on day three.

WIMA USA Executive Director Joanna Merchie said this year's conference expanded beyond what had traditionally been an NFC-focused event to embrace complementary proximity- and cloud-based solutions. The idea was that the various technologies may be used in synergy to create a seamless user experience and thus accelerate adoption.

Innovative exhibitors

Among the exhibitors, Norway-based one2touch unveiled the world's first integrated NFC keyboard for smartphones. Norway-based MeaWallet showcased its mobile wallet applications for payments, tickets, loyalty, coupons, etc. Spain-based Sistelnetworks demonstrated its vWand stylus, which uses NFC and Bluetooth technologies to interact with touch-screen devices in multiple work environments.

Greece-based Hotech Systems Integrators offered an overview of NFC-based packaged verticals, from retail merchandising and loyalty to field service management. U.S.-based companies represented included Tapwise, Rippedsheets.com and Cellotape/Landmark Label, which demonstrated possibilities for NFC tags – from beverage coasters that produce time-based offers to grocery store shelf talkers that deliver consumer recipes in aisle.

Stimulating sessions

The second day of the conference featured six sessions covering aspects of the mobile proximity market: payments and wallets for retail services; loyalty and smart merchandising; marketing; building a link between NFC/proximity technologies and big data; and access control and identity management. "Speed dating" sessions provided networking opportunities.

Jeff Miles, Vice President, Mobile Transactions for NXP Semiconductors, said that with approximately 127 million NFC tags in the market today, if the more than 300 smart devices already equipped with NFC technology are optimized, proximity marketing can direct relevant content to consumers. One panelist cited how differences in technology preferences and collaboration between mobile network operators, banks and other entities will influence regional developments across the globe.

Patrick Meyer, known as "The CEO Futurist," posed the question, "If you're not bringing them back with loyalty, why do you need payments?" He said the on-ramp to consumer engagement should be no more than a one-click process, and two-clicks only for gaming. One issue panelists agreed upon was that once a consumer taps or snaps, the result should be an immediate offer or information that adds value to the retail experience, not a static page.

Accelerated payments

Patrick Gauthier, Head of Product Strategy & Business Operations, Retail Services at PayPal Inc., stated, "If you want to do something meaningful in mobile, you have to make billions of impressions." Even so, consumers want different things from different providers, and not all consumers in a store are equally loyal. This makes dynamic personalization and open application programming interface exchange critical considerations for digital wallet providers.

He added that mobile technology helps increase the velocity of commerce and can reduce pain points for merchants. For example, it can accelerate drive-through service at quick service restaurants (QSR), where 45 percent of QSR revenue is typically generated.

Aric Nissen, owner of Smartini Cocktails, said, "Payment is what happens after the decision is made. Mobile engagement marketing can influence those decisions" and that the POS should be viewed as the point of experience. He noted that 75 percent of millennials surveyed recently would switch brands if offered a real-time mobile offer.

Nick Testanero, Director Sales & Marketing and co-CEO of Cellotape, pointed out that each NFC tag captures a unique ID, which can record GPS location and other dynamic data in real-time. This is especially useful in equipment rental businesses, where the location and condition of equipment need consistent monitoring. Panelists agreed that NFC is harder to counterfeit than quick response-coded billboards, which have already been counterfeited in certain locations.

Security concerns

Another area touched upon in the afternoon sessions on day two was the issue of privacy, especially with the amount of data being collected, making the ability to opt in or out important for consumers. It was reported that data science firm Place IQ Inc. is developing a U.S. grid, where data gathered from the U.S. census and consumer activity will be tracked and recorded in 100 square meter zones. This data could be sold to marketers for pinpoint accuracy.

The organization's next conference, WIMA Monaco will be held in Monaco from April 22 to 24, 2014. For more information about WIMA, visit www.wima.mc . end of article

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