(UPDATED COVERAGE April 16) In April, Total Produce PLC plans to start trials in Ireland of fresh produce retail displays that allow payment by proximity to enabled smartphones.
Total Produce’s stands let consumers download fresh produce videos by tapping the NFC symbol on the unit’s side with their smartphone. There is no need to scan a quick response code.
If the trials go well, the technology could eventually come to North America — perhaps through The Oppenheimer Group.
“Oppy is observing the SmartStand trial with great interest and considering viability for the North American market, pending feedback from the initial weeks of the campaign in Ireland,” said Vincent Dolan, European marketing manager for Total Produce.
Two stand types will be trialed in Ireland.
The first are TOP stands branded “Love Local” that promote local produce. These stands link to short videos of growers, designed to reassure consumers on quality and emphasize retail commitments to support local produce.
The second stand, branded TOP “Fresh n Ready,” is for convenience outlets and offers simple produce recipe videos uploaded daily.
“This technology allows us to move very quickly to meet an identified consumer need,” Dolan said. “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.”
“We can upload a new video to these units instantly to respond to opportunities,” he said.
Total Produce is also exploring Smartphone Beacons, a Bluetooth-based technology that also avoids scanning and delivers content based on proximity to an installed device. Smartphone Beacons are expected to be integrated into SmartStands, alongside NFC, before summer.
The company regards such technologies as the natural accompaniment and probable successor to QR codes.
Total Produce embraced those codes early on and developed a suite of packaging, Smartpacks, that linked to videos dubbed FruitBytes. Nearly four years later, the approach has shifted.
“Back then we were aware of NFC, but costs were prohibitive and penetration of NFC enabled smartphones was limited,” Dolan said. “Since then costs have come down, penetration has reached a critical mass and the consumer insights arising from our experience with our Smartpacks illustrated that the act of scanning QR codes was discouraging engagement, so we revisited the technology.”
Total Produce works with a United Kingdom company — which it hasn’t named — on integrating the NFC and Beacon technologies.
“It’s very much our vision, but we do lean on our technical partner to deliver some practical elements of the project and keep us abreast of an ever evolving technology,” Dolan said.
The expansion of 4G telecom networks across Europe has made tapping an NFC unit simpler and faster, according to Total Produce.
Total Produce operates in 20 nations with customers in more. It has 100 distribution hubs in Europe, North America and India and annually distributes more than 300 million cartons of fresh fruits and vegetables.