As the Internet of Things becomes ubiquitous among brands and retailers, the “Internet of Everything” goes a step further in connecting everyday products to digital networks.
Over the next decade, the Internet of Everything is estimated to become a $19 trillion global opportunity, according to an economic analysis by Cisco.
A company looking to seize that opportunity is Thinfilm, a Norwegian-headquartered firm focused on creating mobile marketing solutions through its unique Near Field Communications tag technology and cloud-based software portal. Thinfilm’s solution speaks to brands and retailers seeking methods to establish deeper connections with consumers.
By utilizing NFC, a short-range connectivity standard for mobile devices, Thinfilm’s solution enables consumers to engage directly with brands’ enhanced, personalized and interactive shopping experiences. Through the tap of a smartphone, shoppers can access specialized content such as product information, videos, coupons or immersive VR experiences via a product’s “smart label.” The solution primarily targets brands that cater to mobile-first consumers, who are namely Millennial and Generation Z shoppers.
Matt Bright, the senior director of product and technical marketing at Thinfilm, told WWD, “The Internet of Everything is when we start to make things that aren’t already smart connected.” Bright continued, “Adding intelligence and interactivity to lots of things, which can include disposable items and everything from fashion to accessories, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and food and beverage, [brings] mobile interactivity to consumers in a way that’s useful, contextual and timely.”
Specialized printing electronics technology is used to manufacture NFC chips, which are incorporated into finished NFC tags or labels. These thin, flexible labels can then be applied directly to products or packages. Shoppers perusing NFC-enabled products simply touch their smartphone to the object and the NFC circuit inside the product or package instantly communicates with the smartphone or device. The chip’s unique identity and related information is then sent to the cloud and targeted content is directly delivered to the consumer’s device. Thinfilm’s solution can also be integrated with a retailer’s app, which can be accessed by tapping the product’s NFC tags.
“When we talk about today’s consumer, [they are] very rapidly becoming a mobile-first consumer. What that means essentially is that when someone wants to solve a problem, the first device they reach for is their phone.” Bright added, “Everyone’s got a supercomputer in their pocket.”
As consumers typically travel through an intermediary such as a search engine, e-commerce portal or social network to locate product information, brands have struggled to remain as the primary and most trusted source of information for their own merchandise. Thinfilm’s solution provides an authentic voice for retailers to reach out to consumers, as its product reestablishes the connection between brands and shoppers.
Bright describes Thinfilm’s smart labels as “in-store plus.” Bright said, “That NFC enabled object is interactive in-store, but it also potentially follows the consumer all the way through the journey. They might take that item home after purchase and have access to different contextually useful information such as a loyalty program or [find information on] how to reorder the product, etc.”
Thinfilm’s value to enterprises and mobile marketers lies in its ability to streamline communications between brands, retailers and consumers. Bright told WWD, “Historically it’s been mass media [or] direct mail campaigns [that connect brands to consumers], but as we start looking at the world of digitally native consumers, how Millennials are buying and how that differs from how their parents bought [products], we have a very different world now where brands need to be simultaneously digital and physical,” Bright concluded.
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