Multinational fresh produce company Total Produce is testing new, themed retail units equipped with technology that allows consumers to download free video content without the need to scan a QR code or barcode.
The updated Top-branded SmartStands are set to feature near-field communication (NFC) and beacons, two cutting-edge systems that have the potential to change the way retail stores communicate with their customers.
NFC, the same technology used for contactless payments, is becoming increasingly prevalent across the European retail business, allowing for transactions to be processed or information to be downloaded when in close proximity to an enabled smartphone.
The Bluetooth-based beacon system, meanwhile, is Apple's preferred method of indoor close-proximity communication with mobile devices and has been widely touted as a means for retailers, event organisers and transport systems to communicate with people indoors.
Total Produce's stands will give consumers the opportunity to download customised fresh produce videos simply by tapping their phone on the NFC symbol on the side of the unit.
Smartphone beacons will be integrated into the SmartStands alongside NFC before the summer.
In developing the new stands, Total Produce is also trying out new themes focused on two key trends: local and convenience.
Its Love Local stands are aimed squarely at reassuring consumers about product quality and emphasising the retailer's commitment to supporting local produce and supply chain transparency.
The stands link to short videos featuring the same growers supplying the fixture, profiling them and affording shoppers the opportunity to tour their farms virtually.
The second stand theme, Fresh n Ready, is more geared towards convenience outlets, with quick and simple recipe videos uploaded daily for busy consumers.
The flexibility afforded by the new technologies is important, argues Vincent Dolan, European marketing manager at Total Produce.
"We can upload a new video to these units instantly to respond to opportunities; a barbecue-themed video on a sunny afternoon, a pumpkin carving video for Halloween or a recipe video to complement an in-store price promotion," he explains. "Similarly, we can update grower videos to reflect changes in product range at any time."
For Dolan, experience has taught Total Produce that content is king. "Ultimately it's how compelling the content is to the consumer that encourages interaction," he insists.
"This technology allows us to move very quickly to meet an identified consumer need. We already have some 200 videos filmed and we're determined that the content linked to these stands will be as fresh as the produce they are promoting."
Total Produce regards NFC and related technologies as the natural accompaniment and probable successor to QR codes, Dolan adds.
"Our experience is that the physical act of scanning a QR code is a significant impediment to interaction," he notes. "Though an evolving technology, NFC removes that obstacle. Coupled with the expansion of 4G telecom networks across Europe, the experience of tapping an NFC unit is much simpler, much faster and ultimately more rewarding than scanning a QR code."
Dolan also believes that, irrespective of the technology employed, the potential dividends for fresh produce marketers are likely to be the same for each system.
"In delivering quality content at the touch of a button at point of sale, they offer the potential to empower the shopper and to differentiate the fresh produce fixture in store, in a way relevant to and preferred by the new consumer."