U.S.-based NFC application developer Narian Technologies said it plans to launch pilots with a large department store chain and large supermarket chain by the first quarter of 2012.
Narian said the organizer of a major film festival also plans to use some of the company’s suite of applications next year.
Narian CEO Einar Rosenberg declined to name the festival or the chains planning to trial the Narian NFC applications, but he said they would involve actual consumers and could launch before the end of the year.
Rosenberg launched the suite of applications last month, which he says enables retailers to offer NFC services with low start-up costs and with only a relatively low percentage of their customers carrying NFC phones.
The apps enable customers to place orders, summon store employees for assistance, check product availability and use other interactive services after entering the retail establishments. The Narian backend handles the service requests.
The applications are mainly targeted at small merchants, which could start the service for $20 per month, said Rosenberg. They would pay 5 cents for each time a customer taps a tag to place an order or summon an employee. But the first taps come out of the $20, so merchants, in effect, would get the first 400 taps at no additional charge.
Rosenberg said not only small retail chains are also interested. The apps are available first on Android NFC phones.
He said among the tag-reading applications that the chains will trial are apps that enable consumers to tap their NFC phones to page sales associates, keep their place in line and get service as they enter the stores.
Rosenberg, an NFC industry veteran, said the apps are designed to complement the payment transaction, but are not loyalty programs or couponing. Instead they help merchants avoid lost sales.
“The up-sale is coupons–it’s trying to get you to buy more,” Rosenberg said. “The lost sale is the products you could have sold (but didn’t), because somebody walked out of line, because someone got frustrated because they couldn’t find an employee to help them. Not only did they (retailers) lose the sale of that product but they lost the opportunity for employees to promote other products.”
Rosenberg, which founded Narian 10 years ago, said the pilots will demonstrate the technology in a retail setting, and hopes it will help him raise more funding.
“We need the funding to expand into more phone operating systems, and we need to funding to add sales and marketing people and operations people,” he said.