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Heal's Boosts Sales With NFC System, Links Store With Online Purchases

The CloudTags solution enables customers to view digital content about a product in the store by tapping a tablet against an NFC RFID tag, creating a wishlist and then receiving advertising online based on their in-store interests.
By Claire Swedberg
Tags: NFC, Retail
Aug 12, 2015

U.K. luxury furniture company Heal's is employing radio frequency identification at one of its London stores to bridge the digital and physical worlds of product sales and marketing. The RFID-based solution, provided by CloudTags, enables customers to view digital content about a particular product at the store by tapping a tablet PC against a Near Field Communication (NFC) RFID tag, thereby creating a product wishlist, and then receiving e-mail messages and retargeted online advertising based on their product interests.

The solution paid for itself within one week by increasing store sales, says Oliver White, Heal's multi-channel director. Consequently, the retailer plans to expand the RFID solution to all of its five locations by the Christmas shopping season.

A Heal's customer can pick up one of the store's Nexus tablets and use it to access content about the products he looks at.
Heal's was established in 1818 as a feather-dressing company, and later began selling bedding and other furniture. Currently, the company offers British-made furniture and homewares at its three stores in London, and its other two in Brighton and Redbrick Mill (in Batley, near Leeds). Most of the retailer's sales result from customers' visits to its stores as opposed to online shopping, White says, since the items are of high value and cost, and shoppers prefer to experience them before making a purchase. "We know that customers who buy online do so after a store visit," he explains.

However, White notes, the company is also aware that the amount of information available to customers online can outweigh what they would have access to at the store itself. That digital content includes details indicating where a piece of furniture was made, its designer, its brand (if relevant) and such information as where it is available for sale and what other items might go well with it.

Therefore, in September 2014, Heal's installed the CloudTags solution at its flagship London store, in order to determine how well it would be received by customers and whether it would improve sales by linking digital data with the physical store experience. The solution, says James Yancey, CloudTags' CEO, utilizes customized Google Nexus tablets that customers can use to learn about the retailers' products. Smartrac NFC RFID tags, made with an NXP Semiconductors' NTAG203 chip and provided by Rapid NFC, were attached on or near merchandise throughout the floor of the store where furniture is displayed. (The other floors are dedicated to other home and branded products.) The store's employees carry NFC cards, similar to a credit card, as well as Apple iPads for a non-NFC experience.

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