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Improving the retail experience with NFC and RFID Technology – case study

By Dave Chaffey 11 Dec, 2014
Multichannel retail strategy

Interview with Ollie Bath, co-founder of CloudTags

In our recent guide by Tery Spataro on integrating customer-facing digital technology into retail stores we looked at lots of examples of how retailers are planning to Wow customers with in-store digital tech. One of the most interesting technologies which combines customer engagement with linkages through to CRM and sales is CloudTags. Jill Quick, another of our Expert commentators had been telling me about the example of who had given customers at its London showroom tablets that they can use to read NFC / RFID tags to learn about each product, while giving the retailer access to data about shopper behaviour and preferences. It's one example of the Internet of Things being applied in retail today.


So, I was interested to interview Ollie Bath, the co-founder of CloudTags to find out more about the technology, how different retailers are applying it and the results that they're getting.

What benefits does CloudTags offer customers as they select products?

We work with retailers to help them provide their customers the best of an online experience with Amazon-like recommendations engineered for physical stores. This means that without downloading or signing in to a mobile application we allow customers to access deeper product info and reviews, curate and share what they consider and receive smart, location-aware, recommendations via beacons and sharing.

What benefits have retailers applying the technology seen when looking to engage shoppers and add to the in-store retail experience?

The clear value exchange between retailer and customer is opt-in, transparent digital participation and data exchange inside the physical store. The retailer provides customers with a richer brand experience without requiring registration or download of an app. This allows them to experience the store in a deeper way and if customers perceive value, then they can choose to opt-in via email to receive a list of the products considered. In turn, the retailer can better understand what their customers are interested in buying and who they are prior to point of purchase.

By knowing the products customers considered but didn't buy, retailers can re-engage them digitally after leaving the store in a relevant way. We also use beacons so that, based on what products they interact with, we can show customers other things that are relevant in the store as they walk around. Using this data (products they interact with digitally while in the store + opt-in email identification) the retailer can provide a more personalised experience and re-engage customers based on what they’ve shown interest in.

Which product categories is the technology most suited to?

As there’s a value exchange and we’re not tracking people in a covert way customers need to opt-in and engage. In order to achieve the levels of engagement we’re after, there needs to be a novel and/or functional reason for the customer to interact.

Currently we’re focusing on high-end luxury and big-ticket retail like furniture, auto, appliances and electronics, kitchen and bath as well as luxury apparel.

Purchases that require more consideration can easily be enhanced by layering in digital functionality and allowing curation, to consider these after leaving the store.

Which type of brands have used Cloud Tags and what results have they achieved?

  • MADE – 15% increase in AOV, 73% of customers walked in the showroom picked up tablet, 21% identified themselves, 41% of customers continue the experience at home after leaving the store.
  • Harvey Nichols – 90% of shoppers who engaged in-store were not previously known to the brand. 16% of all shoppers engaged with the experience. 7% self identified via email. 18% took further action after receiving an email. Customers are now spending 42% more and buying 3X more frequently.
  • DropDead – 53% of all shoppers engaged with the experience. 22% increase in sales. 46% of customers self identified via Facebook and doubled daily product likes.
  • Heals – 87% of shoppers who engaged in-store were not previously known to the brand. 13% of all shoppers engaged with the experience. 17% self identified via email. 55% took further action after receiving an email. 2 X ROI.

Which types of customer insights are possible from the information collected about customers and how can they be applied?

Very simply, the more engaged a customer the more they spend. 'Multi-channel', 'omnichannel' and 'loyal customer' are in many ways synonyms. When retailers provide a richer and personalised brand experience, their customers buy more. We’ve see that across all our implementations will increase AOV between 15%+.

It's important that retailers allow digital store experiences without friction and barriers. This means accessing content and recommendations without initial sign up or download. Imagine if you couldn't access the homepage of each ecommerce site you visited unless you registered? That would kill the Internet, yet that's what we do to customers in the store.

Lastly, over 70% of store customers who build digital collections and provide their email are unique to the retailer's CRM database. Retailers should focus on maximizing the value of existing physical store customers digitally (retention marketing) instead of focusing only on driving more top of funnel customers into the store for the first time.

How have your customers found the reaction from consumers? What sort of response rates do you get? Are there any privacy concerns?

Very positive. People are conducting multi-channel shopping already, although it’s not always in the brand's ecosystem, which makes it a less seamless and less enjoyable experience. When provided by the brand in the correct way the experience can be more fluid.  

Privacy – We’re creating opt-in experiences with a clear value exchange. Much the same as personalisation on the web we capture data that makes your experience and future dialogue with the brand more bespoke.

By Dave Chaffey

Digital strategist Dr Dave Chaffey is co-founder and Content Director of marketing publisher and learning platform Smart Insights. Dave is editor of the 100+ templates, ebooks and courses in the digital marketing resource library created by our team of 25+ digital marketing experts. Our resources are used by our Premium members in more than 100 countries to Plan, Manage and Optimize their digital marketing. Free members can access our free sample templates here. Dave is a keynote speaker, trainer and consultant who is author of 5 bestselling books on digital marketing including Digital Marketing Excellence and Digital Marketing: Strategy, Implementation and Practice. To learn about my books, see my personal site Digital marketing books by Dr. Dave Chaffey. In 2004 he was recognised by the Chartered Institute of Marketing as one of 50 marketing ‘gurus’ worldwide who have helped shape the future of marketing. Please connect on LinkedIn to receive updates or ask me a question.

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