Smartrac Brings Experience Center to California

By Claire Swedberg

The new center and office are focused on enabling customers and partners to experiment with RFID solutions specific to their use cases, as technology use expands in retail, brand authentication and other sectors.

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Global RFID company Smartrac Technology Group is opening a new office and Customer Experience Center in Southern California, focused on strengthening its U.S. presence and global reach, as well as Internet of Things (IoT) solutions development. The new location is intended to broaden conversations between end users, solution providers and Smartrac. The company says the new office and center will be utilized by potential users of the technology to experiment with solutions specific to their own use cases and requirements.

The new center, scheduled to open at the beginning of next year, is part of Smartrac Group’s effort to extend its reach as it sells RFID and Near Field Communication (NFC) hardware, as well as full RFID-based solutions, to markets that include retail, luxury goods, logistics, pharmaceuticals, health care and manufacturing.

Smartrac’s new office and Experience Center

Smartrac will lead its global sales organization, product management and product marketing functions from the new site, says Amir Mobayen, Smartrac’s chief revenue officer. The office and experience center together encompass 18,420 square feet of space. Staff members who previously worked from the company’s former Santa Monica location will relocate there, while Smartrac plans to hire new employees in the surrounding Orange County area as well.

“We are looking for tech-savvy people with skills in enterprise sales, product management and product marketing, as well as experts in solutions design and development,” Mobayen states. “That also comprises knowledge in RFID hardware, computer hardware and software, IoT platforms and the Internet of Things, in general.”

Smartrac, based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, already has a presence in the United States. Its facility in Fletcher, N.C., provides the only RFID tag manufacturing still taking place in the United States, according to Mobayen. The company also maintains a research and development software and solutions centers in Columbus, Ohio, as well as in Rochester and New York City, N.Y.

With the new Experience Center in Irvine, Calif., the firm plans to bring services to its partners, as well as to Fortune 500 company end users. The center has a focus on tailored solutions, Mobayen says, that will allow organizations to bring unique use cases to the center in order to ascertain how they could build a solution. The facility is intended to serve existing end users in addition to potential new customers.

Smartrac has seen double-digit growth in its RFID product sales, Mobayen says, especially in UHF RFID products and solutions for the retail market. However, RFID technology demand is experiencing other upticks as well, as more NFC-based solutions are being developed in conjunction with Apple‘s release of iOS devices with open NFC functionality.

For several years, Apple had limited its built-in NFC functionality only for use with Apple Pay. However, the 2017 release of the latest iOS products enabled access to the NFC feature for app developers. That has led to a growth in NFC development throughout the past year (see Apple Embraces NFC [Finally]).

Some of that NFC growth has been in solutions for brand authentication, Mobayen says. For instance, luxury brands are building NFC tags into the packaging of products to help vendors and consumers access authentication information by reading tags via a smartphone. NFC solutions are also increasingly being developed for consumer engagement, Mobayen adds. Shoppers can continue to engage with a brand by tapping an NFC-enabled phone to a product’s tags, enabling them to access loyalty points, place re-orders or replacement parts, or gain product information.

In addition to brand protection, NFC is being utilized for such services as inspection and certification for fire extinguishers, electrical panels and other equipment requiring regular servicing or inspection. With the NFC data, Mobayen notes, inspectors or maintenance personnel can view information regarding a particular piece of equipment, as well as create records indicating the location of each unique piece of equipment and what services were provided, along with photographs if necessary.

Many companies planning RFID deployments, especially for such use cases as brand protection, are still inexperienced with the technology, Mobayen says. For such companies—large brands or manufacturers, for instance—the center will help them to learn the basics of RFID technology use, as well as build a potential application for their own use.

What’s more, the experiential center will provide testing for solutions using UHF- or NFC-based technology, as well as sensor tags that leverage either technology type. “This is a way for us to better understand and communicate with those who use our products,” Mobayen states.

“For us, engagement doesn’t stop where the tagging starts,” Mobayen says. RFID deployments “take you on a journey,” he adds, “and we want to understand our customers’ journey and provide the [support] they need.”