A few months ago, I posted a
about NFC’s role as a disruptive driver in consumer goods. I described
how, by connecting brands to consumers in a fast, seamless and secure way,
NFC is adding everyday items to the Internet of Things (IoT).
For brand owners in the retail sector, NFC is an ideal investment because it
combines physical products with a secure digital application, and thereby
creates an enhanced, better protected brand experience.
And now, NFC just got another big boost. Apple recently
that iOS 11 will support NFC tag reading on phones. That’s a
game-changer for NFC, since all iPhone 7s and newer models will be able to
read NFC tags just like Android devices. It means that most of the two billion
people worldwide who own smartphones will also have an NFC reader to interact
with NFC tags. As a result, NFC will enable many more consumer and brand-owner
The Special Case of Fashion and Accessories
Apparel and footwear – a global market expected to reach USD 2 trillion
within the next year – presents a unique set of challenges to brand
Engaging with the consumer
The combination of “omni-channel” retailing, with its
combination of physical and virtual storefronts and mobile-first, always-on
consumers, is changing how brands deliver the consumer experience. Other
retail purchases, even those beyond fashion and lifestyle, compete for share
of wallet and consumers are increasingly influenced by online interactions.
Be it product discovery, peer influence or special offers, digital
interactions, which are largely driven by mobile, are said to influence
three out of four purchases. NFC gives mobile consumers a convenient way to
engage with pre-sale information, like product details, reviews and so on,
but NFC also extends beyond the purchase, becoming part of the
wearer’s experience with the item itself, throughout its life cycle.
Protecting the brand
Counterfeit products, and the associated damage they do to sales and
reputations, represent a serious threat to brand owners. The industry
analyst Vandagraf Research estimates that 20% of sportswear, 10% of luxury
apparel and 10% of mass-market leather goods are fake. Since NFC supports
digital authentication, the technology makes it harder for counterfeiters to
present knock-offs as the real thing, and gives consumers an easy way to
Some analysts are forecasting that, by 2021, 20% of all apparel in the
developed world will be connected to the cloud. Vandagraf’s estimates
are more conservative, but still quite bullish: they estimate that, by 2021,
there will be 1.1 billion IoT-connected apparel items that can interact with
As mentioned above, NFC does more for brand owners than link consumers to
websites. It protects brands with digital authentication, increases consumer
engagement with a high degree of interaction and uses location awareness to
provide more useful information. And it does all this with just a simple NFC
tag, embedded or attached to the clothing at the point of manufacture. The tag
uses its unique digital profile to connect the physical item to the cloud, and
leverages its online dataset to extend actions.
Brand protection: Delivers stronger product protection to
help tackle counterfeit sales, as well as loss prevention related to
fraudulent returns. Consumers and business inspectors can use an NFC phone
to digitally verify a product is genuine, anywhere and at any time. Tags,
assigned to specific locations or distributors, can also be used for channel
authentication to identify sales outside authorized markets (grey markets).
Consumer engagement / Mobile Marketing: Enhances brand value
and builds loyalty, with NFC tags letting the product itself deliver brand
content, helpful services and personalized experiences. Consumers can
quickly access important details about fabric and design, re-order products
they like, receive personalized recommendations – including styling
suggestions or health and fitness content – or benefit from loyalty
rewards, such as exclusive digital content or VIP offers.
Location awareness: With the help of connected readers and
the cloud, NFC tags can provide data on product location, to help check
traceability along the distribution chain or identify clusters of
counterfeits. Location awareness also contextualizes consumer messages,
based on where the product is sold or used, and can be used to deliver
dynamic marketing data in real time, based on the product at hand.
Real-World Examples in Fashion and Accessories
Brand owners in the fashion and accessories segment have been quick to adopt
NFC as a way to engage with consumers and protect their reputations. The list
below, presented alphabetically by company name, gives an idea of how brands
are putting NFC to work.
– the future of technical clothing.
This forward-thinking menswear designer creates sportswear that embodies
innovative fabrics, fit, and function and considers the NFC technology
detail in each garment’s DNA an essential component of the DYNE
brand. Tapping a smartphone to the garment unlocks direct access to the
clothing catalog, with an interface that supports multiple languages. Users
can learn more about the company’s philosophy and design aesthetic,
get updates from social media, access a custom music playlist and explore
the unique DYNE approach to fabric, engineer, fit, function and innovation.
In their published case study, Dyne claims an ROI of 219%, by increasing user
engagement while growing
sales and closing more deals with retailers. For their NFC-enabled clothing
line, DYNE has partnered with
Smartrac, a global leader in NFC products and IoT solutions and
Blue Bite, creators of a digital experience engine for smart objects.
– real-time interactions and personalization
As part of its swimwear line and new line of activewear, this global brand
uses NFC to deliver mobile engagements with its customers. Khongboon
transforms clothing into smartwear, allowing consumers to directly engage
with the brand through their connected apparel, at each point in the
garment’s life. Interacting with the Khongboon website, consumers can
access product information, a collection lookbook, real-time social-media
feeds and a countdown to the next content update. More personalized
features, including exclusive promotions and contextually-aware components,
such as nearby gym locations or running paths, and fitness tracking, are in
the works. Khongboon is another Smartrac/Blue Bite partner.
– advanced digital solution against counterfeiting
The luxury Italian-French fashion house, known for its chic
‘puffer’ jackets, has been using NFC technology to stem the
rising tide of fraudsters, especially in China. For Moncler, an iconic brand
and qualitative benchmark at a global level, the
battle against counterfeiting
is a fundamental objective. An advanced NFC anti-counterfeiting system is
used to confirm the authenticity of a product and enable an interactive and
effective verification procedure, by reading the NFC tag with a specific app
that can be easily downloaded to customers’ smartphones. The
is aesthetically shaped just like the emblematic logo of the brand.
Moncler’s high-tech defense aims to control the market, offering
transparency and protection under all aspects, for its customers who choose
an original Moncler product for its high quality and aesthetic.
Rochambeau Bright Bmbr Jacket– one-of-a-kind personalized experiences
This award-winning, New York-based fashion house has produced a
limited-edition smart jacket that features a special NFC-enabled label that
unlocks access to curated experiences and specially selected gifts. Wearers
can unlock a hand-picked selection of unique New York City restaurant,
gallery, club, retail and fashion experiences. Personalized gifts can be
collected by using a phone to scan the garment when the wearer is within 500
yards of an exclusive set of retail outlets. The jacket also unlocks access
to other unique items, such as a signed, numbered piece of artwork inspired
by the jacket and an individual “making of” video. For their
part, Rochambeau benefits from direct customer relationships and deeper
insights into consumer preferences. In creating the jacket, Romchambeau
worked with the retail branding division of
, a global leader in labeling and packaging materials, and
, an innovative IoT cloud platform for consumer-product experiences and
smarter product operations.
Victorinox Travel Gear
– unique trademark protection
The Swiss company’s luxury luggage division now uses smart NFC labels
to give each product its own unique identity. As a result, anyone with a
conventional smartphone, anywhere in the world, can identify and
authenticate each individual product as an original. Victorinox chose NFC
for its easy scalability, and for its ability to offer a range of innovative
digital services. Viewing digitally authorized products as a media and
service gateway for a direct, personal customer dialog, the company plans to
use NFC to offer real-time product information pre- and post-sale, as well
as exclusive customer support such as travel insurance, user-friendly
reorder services and more. Victorinox’s NFC solution was developed
in partnership with the
(All4Labels) a leading manufacturer of adhesive labels and flexible
, a Berlin-based provider of software-as-a-service (SaaS) for global ID and
product relationships management.
NXP leading the way
Many of today’s innovative use cases are made possible by
, NXP’s advanced portfolio of smart NFC tags. NXP co-invented NFC and
is the leading supplier of semiconductor solutions for digital ID
When it comes to using NFC for advanced brand protection and enhancement,
brand owners can now rely on the
NTAG 413 DNA
to deliver an extra level of security. NTAG DNA offers AES cryptography and a
new SUN feature, which generates a unique authentication code each time the
tag is tapped. The result is more advanced product protection against
counterfeiting, and secured, exclusive user experiences that increase customer
satisfaction. Consumers simply tap the tag to automatically connect to a
trusted web service to verify the secure code. There’s no need for an
onboard app. The added security of NTAG DNA also helps brand owners who want
to reward consumers who own a product, as part of a promotional campaign or a
loyalty program, while blocking any fraudulent attempts to copy, share or
manipulate the URLs associated with reward offers.
Just the beginning
As NFC continues to gain momentum in the consumer sector, it will drive new
value for brand owners, with incremental revenue and increased brand loyalty.
NFC will also bring more engaging experiences to consumers, with new access to
brand content, offers, digital services and personalized value-adds.
At the same time, NXP will continue to provide the enabling technologies
– like the new NTAG 413 DNA – that make NFC-enabled fashion and
accessories such a powerful trend in retail.
The fashion and accessories segment is just one of the many retails
industries benefitting from NFC. We’ll cover other verticals, including
wine and spirits, in upcoming blogs
NXP blog: “NFC delivers intelligence, connectivity and value in
consumer packaged goods
NXP’s NFC Technology Hub