An often overlooked feature, NFC is a wireless connectivity technology that allows short-range radio communication between devices. Thinfilm has embedded a small chip inside of a beer coaster that when tapped with a smartphone activates a direct mobile connection that will take customers to a landing page where they can order Amplified beer online for home delivery through San Diego-based The Beer Connect, an online craft beer marketplace.
“Technology is something that has always interested me and I think the distribution of beer is something that’s ripe for disruption right now,” said Alex Pierson, co-founder of Amplified Ale Works.
“If someone wants my beer, it’s now way easier to work through one website rather than have to sign a long-term deal with a distributor, who will then sell my beer at a high markup and dictate these terms to me rather than the other way around. This approach is enabling guys like me to be able to work through an industry where size matters.”
According to Pierson, the craft brew market in San Diego has peaked, which is putting pressure on smaller breweries. He said that Amplified is considering an acquisition, moving to a different location and opening in new markets.
Pierson said that since the brewery needs beer coasters anyway, he is willing to try the approach, which is expected to add incremental sales and help Amplified’s bottom line. He said that he sees an excellent potential to get customers more involved in the brand by offering organized content to enhance the entire sales experience.
Though NFC technology has been around since 2002, it has only been compatible with Android devices. Recently, Apple announced that with the release of IOS 11 in the fall, it will be opening its NFC reader for applications beyond Apple Pay, which is expected to bring an explosion of NFC powered devices and applications.
“One of the issues that craft beer makers deal with now more than ever is the proliferation of craft beer products and brands,” said Terrence Morrissey, director of sales for Thinfilm. “Craft brewers like Amplified are looking for ways to stand out, grab the consumer’s attention, tell their brand story in an interesting way, educate consumers and ultimately protect and grow their market share in a very crowded space.”
Morrissey said that Thinfilm is very bullish on the “Internet of things” (IoT), the interconnection via the internet of computing devices. He added that Thinfilm’s technology enables the physical and digital world’s to connect through all kinds of different form factors either attached to packaging or directly onto or into a product.
“Craft beer drinkers are a bit promiscuous in that they enjoy trying new products, and when they want more information, they usually go straight to their smartphones. Normally, people do a Google search and now the brand is at the mercy of other websites where producers can’t control the dialogue. This is an enormous opportunity for brands to take back control of that dialogue and create a one-on-one conversation with the consumer,” Morrissey said.
Chris Young, founder of thebeerconnect.com, said that NFC technology offers a unique avenue to reach consumers and direct them straight to a company’s online storefront. He said that since most people already own and use a smartphone's, the opportunities to reach buyers are much more interesting.
Young pointed out that the new sales channel also offers brewers higher profit margins and allows them to keep more of the revenue they generate online since they are selling direct and not through a tradition three-tier system.
More information on Amplified Ale Works can be found at www.amplifiedales.com/.
More information on Thin Film Electronics ASA can be found at http://thinfilm.no/.
More information on The Beer Connect can be found at www.thebeerconnect.com/.