Real Time Communications Featured Article

Enabling Quicker Sales Contact via Connective Ink and IoT

October 12, 2015

Advertising is a tough business.  In a multimedia world loaded with on-demand, social media, mobile, and streaming video, real-time time communications (RTC) is going to open up new options for contextual and locational advertising to engage with prospects and buyers.  Companies will be able to move beyond the traditional "three screens" of TV, computer, and mobile video approach with the Internet of Things (IoT) providing new portals and presence in any environment.




One enabling technology for new interactivity is coming by way of printed electronics and conductive ink.  Manufacturers can now directly add web links to signage, print ads, boxes, tickets -- basically anything from a page in a magazine to a post card -- without having to embed RFID or NFC tags into the material.  The connective ink "tag" hidden in the print can be read by any existing touchscreen device - smartphone, tablet or even Microsoft Surface Book -- and provides data to the reading app for further action -- typically a URL directly to a web site so there's no fumbling with dialing with phone numbers or keyboards to connect to a person. 

For maximum interactivity, a touchcode app could connect a person directly to a WebRTC-enabled call center.  The customer now can talk to a sales or support representative in a few moments, perhaps a "virtual concierge" that could provide more information, answer questions, stream video showing the product in action, links to additional uses of the product, and even take a direct order if needed.

Since touchcodes can be imprinted on practically anything, a shopper in a grocery store could get information on a soup mix with the tap of a phone against the package.  Having trouble assembling the furniture from the brand-name Nordic store? Tap on the packaging or instructions to get a direct link into the call center.  (I'm going to hope I can get my cable boxes touchcode printed, so if I have trouble with the service, I can simply tap the box with my phone to be connected with customer support for a reset/troubleshoot rather than have to call up and go through auto-attendant.)

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Needless to say, there are a lot of opportunities to embed RTC communications into any material that can be printed at very low cost.  Imagine a dead air filter that needs to be replaced.  Tap your phone against the label and the manufacturer's call center is automatically called up for you.  A few questions via voice or video later, and either you can have a replacement filter delivered to you via Amazon on a next day basis, through the manufacturer via UPS second day, or you have it placed on reserve for pickup at WalMart or another Big Box store.

Retailers may not like the "Bypass" method of connective ink and may counter with in-store call center kiosking to deliver their own benefits.  If you are shopping for a particular item take it (or a card in the case of larger/more expensive items) to the kiosk in the middle of the aisle, bump the touchcode to the touch screen and you can be immediately connected with a sales assistant employed by the establishment.  The sales assistant can then offer more in-depth advice and answers, supplementing the existing on-site staff; after all, it is a bit of a stretch to expect deep expertise on all products by all staff all the time.  Retailers gain by helping to close sales while the customer is on the store floor and by maintaining their brand and relationship with the customer.




Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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