The Facebook phone, as in the HTC First and not the Android-run Facebook Home application, presents some incredibly interesting opportunities for retailers and advertisers around the world.
As briefly mentioned in our hands-on session with the device at our April Total Customer Secret Meet Up – of which there's another one coming in May – the Facebook HTC phone is a brilliant low-cost proposition for a consumer to pick up and play with.
As it's subsidised by the advertising revenue of Facebook, the HTC First is currently available for around $99.99 on AT&T in North America – with a similar price expected when it arrives in Autumn on EE in the UK. For a powerful smartphone that's devilishly affordable for many consumers, especially the younger demographic who predominantly use Facebook.
As omnichannel experts CloudTags have pointed out over on their blog, the potential for retailers and advertisers is immense as the HTC First – and Facebook Home for that matter – gives Facebook access to all the information about a user and therefore a potential shopper.
It can tell where someone is in the world, when someone checks into a location on Facebook, what apps they're using in that place and who they're talking to about it. This means they can see if a user is opening a barcode scanner or price comparison tool to find out where else they can get a product cheaper.
The real question is, how does the Facebook phone enable retailers, advertisers and customers all to interact with one another? How can you know when those choice social customers Facebook has pointed out to you are in your store?
Well, CloudTags have also brought their savvy know-how of bringing online to offline through NFC by showing that the implications of a low-cost NFC device in the hands of many will really open up NFC opportunities beyond what they already are.
Currently many premium handsets – bar Apple's iPhone range – contain NFC technology that allows you to pay, browse, interact and download a whole range of information. By placing this in the hands of the many, the in-store customer experience could be revolutionised.
By placing a simple NFC tag by a store entrance or on a label edge or end of isle, a customer could tap-in and receive a personalised offer – based largely on their recent activity through Facebook Home on their phone. They may have just looked online at a rival's website at a similar product. The moment they tap-in at your store you know they're there and, if you have a tag on a shelf edge, you know what item they're looking at. This makes them ripe for firing over a lovely Â£5 or Â£10 off voucher on the product, thus matching or besting your online competitor and securing the customer's loyalty.
Thanks to NFC and the vision that CloudTags are enabling customers and retailers to make use of, perhaps we can be rid of the woeful QR code that retailers and advertisers are wildly adopting despite their atrocious pick-up rates and the complete lack of consumer interest.
NFC isn't just for pushing content as it tracks uses too, meaning information can be uploaded as well as downloaded – meaning a huge wealth of information is available for any company making the most of it.
Omni-channel is a big deal in the modern world of customer engagement and marketing, and NFC technology from providers like CloudTags is a definite way to ensure direct customer interaction and gives you a way to personalise their shopping experience in the process.
At this year's Europe's Customer Festival, which contains Loyalty World, Omni-Channel World and Big Data World, the discussion of how to create a personalised shopping experience – as well as bring consumer interaction to retail and bridge the world of omni-channel – will be a key point of discussion. Register for free to be kept in the loop.