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Narian Technologies to Launch NFC RFID Applications for Customer Service

The system allows consumers at a store or restaurant to use NFC-enabled phones to request assistance from staff members, and to receive an alert when a product or service is ready.
By Claire Swedberg
Dec 07, 2011Anticipating the proliferation of Near Field Communication (NFC) RFID technology within the next few years, Florida software applications firm Narian Technologies intends to launch an NFC solution during the first quarter of 2012, for consumers to use at retail stores in order to summon assistance from employees. The system will be installed by approximately two dozen independent stores nationwide, according to Einar Rosenberg, Narian Technologies' CEO, and will be piloted by between three and six chain retailers by the end of that quarter.

Narian Technologies is offering its Narian Retail Services NFC solution in partnership with UPM RFID, which will provide the high-frequency (HF) passive RFID tags that stores will install to enable customers to make service requests. Shoppers would be able to tap their phones against the tags and, in some cases, then respond to phone prompts to request a specific service, such as, for example, calling a waitress to their restaurant table, receiving a page when their number comes up at a deli counter, or speaking with a salesperson within an electronics store's television section.

The Narian Retail NFC phone app launches each time a consumer taps the phone against a Narian RFID tag at a participating store.
The system is designed to be inexpensive for retailers and easy to deploy. First, a store would lease the Narian Retail Services NFC platform, including access to the Narian-hosted server on which data and reports related to the system's operation can be reviewed. The retailer would indicate some details regarding its facility, as well as the types of services it needs, and Narian Technologies would then send an order to UPM RFID for the appropriate quantity of RFID tags, each specific to a location within a store. The store would indicate the number of staff members it has, and each employee would receive an RFID tag badge. The store would then attach the tags to locations around the business, and it could attach its own logo to the front of the tags as well, with text printed on the tag instructing customers with NFC-enabled phones to "tap this tag."

As many as a dozen or more potential applications are presently being tested, but one element that they all have in common is the paging service, to help customers alert the store that they require assistance. For instance, the Service Pager application enables a customer to ask for help at a particular department. First, UPM tags are attached within each department in which customers may need assistance from the sales staff. A shopper would see the tag with the store's logo, along with instructions to tap his or her NFC-enabled phone at that location. Upon tapping the phone, the customer would then be invited to download the free Narian Retail Services NFC application. Once installed, the app would launch automatically on that individual's phone, each time that he or she tapped it against any tag that is part of the Narian system, at any store. The phone would then display several options, such as learning about daily deals being offered by that department, or requesting service.

If the patron seeks assistance from a sales associate, that request is sent via the phone's cellular connection to the server, which then issues a page to the specific individual assigned to that department. When the salesperson arrives, the customer is instructed to tap the phone against that individual's employee badge, thereby indicating that the request has been fulfilled. The data is then updated on the Narian server, indicating who responded to the request, and how quickly.

The data enables management to track patterns within stores, such as how often customers request service, as well as which workers respond most quickly, and also allows a company to offer bonuses to staff members who score the lowest response times.

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