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Technology is Fast Re-Defining Customer Experience in the Retail Space

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In an exclusive interaction with IMAGES Retail, Amit Bhatia, Head – Retail Solutions, NEC India talks about importance of technology in retail and how NFC  (Near Field Technology) will change things for better  in Indian  retail scenario.

Near Field Communication

With multitude of personalised touch points, and faster, safer and more convenient payment options to choose from. At the same time, marketers are continuously looking for innovative solutions that help them enhance customer experience, while reducing the total cost of customer acquisition and retention. NFC (Near Field Communication) is the next generation short-range high frequency wireless communication technology. It allows consumer to make payments by tapping their smartphone on a contactless payment terminal at retail outlets. At the forefront of this revolution is NEC, with its NFC offerings, which helps consumers conduct secure, contactless payments and transactions with their NFC-enabled mobile phones instead of using cash or credit cards. In addition to the convenience of cash-less, card-less payments, it is also possible to exchange digital content and connect electronic devices safely with the help of NFC.

Service  offering for Indian market

NEC has a strong presence in the Indian retail market and has been offering a wide range of end-to-end retail solutions aimed at simplifying operations and bringing down the total cost of operations in the retail sector. To address the Indian consumer’s preferences,  NEC has a range of integrated touch POS solution, Box POS range and customized retail and billing solutions aimed at segments like F&B, Large Format Retail chains, Cineplexes and Hotels. In addition to this we are market leaders in Japan.

Clientele

We aim to strengthen our foothold in the entertainment, gaming, fashion retail and F&B industry, as these verticals hold immense potential in India. NEC is committed to help brands in adapting new technologies to enhance their customer experience. Today NEC is working closely with one of India’s premium and preferred retail entertainment company, PVR Cinemas, by providing them with end-to-end cloud-based e-payment system called NFC e-Money server. Through this technology, the payment system at PVR integrates itself with the mobile device of the customer by facilitating interactivity between the NFC enabled phone and PVR wallet access, for monetary transactions. We are also targeting malls, hypermarkets, quick serving restaurants, convenience stores and other entertainment clients for this technology.

Case Study:

NEC partnered with PVR Cinemas, the premium and preferred retail & entertainment company of India in 2013, to enhance their customer experience through better payment mechanisms. Through this partnership, NEC helps PVR in streamlining their retail functions at a radically low total cost of ownership (TCO). PVR required a comprehensive retail solution which could empower their customers through smart devices for making payments, and also simplify the billing process by making it faster.

NEC helped PVR by introducing a payment mechanism on the handsets of their customers through NEC’s integrated e-money solution using NFC (Near Field Communication) as a technology. NFC enabled PVR Wallet app is bolstered by NEC, which is the supporting backend provider for the mobile wallet. NEC has provided an end-to-end cloud-based e-payment system called as integrated e-money server to PVR that integrates itself, facilitating interactivity between devices (the NFC enabled phone and PVR wallet access), for monetary transactions. This way, the customers do not have to fetch the credit/ debit card while making payments. They just need to tap the phone at the readers installed at specific PVR locations. Once the customer taps the phone, booked amount gets deducted from the mobile wallet.

The integrated electronic money solution provides customers with servers to manage prepaid transactions, balances and user accounts, and also support for customer relationship management (CRM) functions. Customers, typically retailers can select the features they require from a variety of services. PVR saw this use of NFC technology as the something which could be the core of its customer loyalty programme, along with differentiating it from the competition. PVR cinemas installed this technology across 15 cities allowing movie goers to ‘tap & pay’ for movie tickets and refreshments without using paper or even plastic money.

As a result, PVR has been able to reduce transaction time by 80% as compared to transactions made through any other traditional payment methods and has also helped in boosting sales.

NFC  technology  and how  it has changed things for  Indian retailers

Today, the avid Indian shopper has traversed ahead of the traditional retail therapy and has started embracing online and mobile shopping tools. According to Gartner, India has more than 16 crore internet users of which 8.6 crore access internet using their mobile devices and nearly 10% of internet page views in India come from mobile devices. While m-commerce is still in a nascent stage in India, but it is catching up like wildfire due to factors like affordable devices and mobile internet rates. Moreover, high-speed internet and Wi-Fi has also added impetus to shopping through mobile devices. With 4G coming, the trend is bound to pick up in the near future.

Looking at this trend, retailers across the country have started adapting innovative technologies to add value to their business and interact with their customers to build stronger relationships – NFC being one of them, especially for offering streamlined payment solutions for those who believe in cashless transactions.

NFC technology operates on a special chip and application on smartphones. Consumers who have NFC enabled smartphones can use it instead of a credit/ debit card, by just tapping their phones against NFC enabled payment system. And voila! The payment is made. Not only that, the system also captures the consumer’s details and shopping history for generating loyalty points and data for better customer relationship management for retailers. Retailers across the globe are now leveraging the use of NFC to not only integrate their online and mobile businesses , but also using its power to connect with consumers by sharing information on sales and exciting offers that could be relevant for them, basis the data that the technology collects for them.

Much of the NFC action right now focuses on transforming smartphones into instruments for shopping not just on the Web, but also in the bricks-and-mortar world.

NFC has been acclaimed as the gateway to the future of smoother transactions, as it enables contactless mobile payments. The technology is already transforming the shopping experience for customers and retailers globally as well as in India. Not only shopping, the technology also aims to also serve as an ID or access card, help in transferring data, music or even pictures. NFC has got the ability to offer Value Added Services (VAS) along with secure payments. Retailers can tap the young generation carrying smartphones for loyalty through VAS and conduct interactive customer feedback, promotions etc.

Future of retail technology in India

At present Indian retail sector is accelerating and technology has changed the way India shops today. Furthermore, the business proposition for retailers is shifting from product – centric to customer – centric, as customer has become the most important factor for them. To expand their business and increase sales, retailers are stepping up and adopting various innovate technology solutions to enhance their customer experience. IT solutions in retail therefore have a more strategic role to play today than ever before. From easier payment systems, to streamlined billing process to loyalty programs, retail technology solutions are set to transform the landscape if the retail industry going forward.