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Online retailer Otto is testing NFC as a bridge between product and customer

Use Cases | By PR RFID & Wireless IoT Global | 16 March 2016
To use the sticker, you simply hold the smartphone close to the sticker. After a few seconds, the website opens automatically and the system will ask you to select the product model – this only needs to be done at the start. After that, information on the warranty and the manual can easily be accessed, as well as how to contact repair services. To use the sticker, you simply hold the smartphone close to the sticker. After a few seconds, the website opens automatically and the system will ask you to select the product model – this only needs to be done at the start. After that, information on the warranty and the manual can easily be accessed, as well as how to contact repair services. Photo: Otto

Online retailer Otto is testing NFC labels as product assistants

In November 2015, Otto gave the go-ahead for an innovative service-providing project. NFC technology - as part of the provided service - has been tested right up until January 2016. Customers ordering one of two coffee machines on the Otto website will also receive an NFC label. This means that an online product assistant can be contacted by smartphone or tablet. “RFID im Blick” talked with Dr. Thomas Schnieders, Director of E-commerce, Innovation & Platform, Otto about the goals of this test.

Dr. Thomas Schnieders, Director of E-commerce, Innovation & Platform, Otto, in interview with "RFID im Blick”

Dr. Schnieders, how did the idea for the NFC product assistant come up?

The idea of the Otto Product Assistant was developed in an internal Innovation Workshop – at Otto Innovation Days – in the summer. It was created entirely in-house at Otto. In mid-November the implementation phase of the product assistant started. Nationwide, buyers of a selected coffee machine, received a letter from Otto a few days after their purchase containing an NFC sticker and a short explanation of the service.

Dr. Thomas SchniedersDr. T. Schnieders “The cost of an NFC tag is in just a matter of cents and is therefore absolutely acceptable. QR codes have not so far been proven, because the opening rate often falls short of expectation.”

Would a QR code sticker not be a better alternative? What disadvantages do you see optically readable codes having?

Stickers with a QR code are in fact slightly cheaper. The cost of an NFC tag is a matter of cents and therefore absolutely acceptable. QR codes have not yet been proven because the opening rate often falls short of expectation.

The NFC sticker minimises the time required to manually enter the Internet address of the service page. Apart from this, what advantages are available to customers?

Quick and easy use is one of the great advantages of the Otto Product Assistant. Another advantage is that the label can be attached to the device and is always present in case it is needed. There is no need to search for the operating instructions or the model name and the respective information source on the Internet. We offer the customer help at a location and in a situation wherever support is needed or a problem encountered.

What are the benefits for Otto when customers use the NFC sticker?

Our aim is to be close to our customers by offering them this clever technology. We want to understand and meet their needs in the best way. We have tested the Otto Product Assistant innovation and it provides just that: intuitive operation, fast and accurate information flow as well as a convenient process. The intuitive button operation allows a rapid information flow, answering any questions on the product and supporting the simple purchase of additional products. This increases customer satisfaction, strengthens customer loyalty and also contributes positively to the perception of the brand.

Why did you start the pilot phase with fully automatic coffee machines as the only product group?

Fully automatic coffee machines are particularly suitable because they are a very complex product and questions about service issues are often encountered during their product life cycle. For the test, we limited ourselves to a group of products and a few products to keep the cost of the pilot project manageable.

What features does the Product Assistant have in the starting phase and what features will be added later?

Currently we offer the customer the following functions: the device manual in PDF form, the possibility to order supplies from our range, Otto service contact information for repairs and spare parts, information on warranty as well as videos and PDFs with tips and tricks for product use. We will decide about possible additional features and contents at the end of the pilot phase.

What information is stored on the labels?

The NFC tag simply has the URL of the Otto Product Assistant. The tag does not contain sensitive or personal data. The Internet pages of the Otto Product Assistant, which customers can visit, do not contain any customer-related data, only specific information on the purchased device.

Last modified on Wednesday, 16 March 2016 10:19
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