Radar Skis Builds Direct-to-Customer Communication With Embedded NFC Tags

Ecommerce allows firms to sell direct, controlling the entire customer experience and collecting valuable information about who is buying their products. Selling through a retail channel rather than direct makes the customer experience unpredictable and makes durable, intensive customer relationships difficult to build. This is a particular concern for products that are typically sold through retail distribution yet require nuanced customer engagement.

Sporting and outdoor equipment ranges widely in price, quality, design, features, and application. Products including tents, skis, climbing gear, outdoor clothing and watersports equipment are also often sold through online retailers and outdoor clothing and equipment shops rather than direct.

To maintain a voice in this nuanced sales environment and build ongoing relationships with their customers, ski and wake board brands Radar Skis and Ronix included an ecommerce-style experience directly in their skis and wake boards using Near Field Communication (NFC) technology. The NFC inlays now embedded in Radar skis last the life of the product and their functionality can be changed at will, extending customer engagement and analytics possibilities beyond the shopping and buying experience.

Digitizing Products vs. Digitizing Packaging

Radar and Ronix wanted to build a durable portal for digital customer interaction that is available whenever someone picks up one of their skis or wake boards. Typical solutions like printed QR codes on in-store tags and packaging are discarded quickly, and printing QR codes on skis and wake boards posed aesthetic, durability, and reliability concerns.

NFC devices use radio frequency (RF) for data transmission, so they can be integrated into products and operate free of visual interference from fading, scratches, low light, water, and debris.

In 2019, Radar and Ronix partnered with GoToTags to incorporate an NFC inlay in every ski and wake board manufactured by the brands. The inlays had to be cost-effective, integrable in the manufacturing process, and withstand harsh watersports environments. After understanding the unique complexities of Radar’s needs, GoToTags recommended a 22 mm clear wet NFC inlay with NXP’s popular NTAG213 NFC chip. This tag and inlay solution ensures good compatibility, low cost, and can be embedded under the top sheet of each ski to ensure lifelong durability.

GoToTags Cloud

To provide dynamic, ongoing functionality for customers, Radar leveraged the GoToTags Cloud to control and monitor all tag interactions.

Tags encoded for use with the GoToTags cloud allow for:

  1. Tag actions to be updated remotely
  2. Tags to be managed individually, in batches or sets, or by characteristic
  3. Tag interaction data to be routed directly to Radar’s existing analytics system

By tagging their skis and boards with smart, digitally interactive tags, Radar not only provides a more engaging and valuable real-world experience for their customers, but those customers are also providing Radar with valuable insights. Radar can now integrate data about who, what, where, when, and how their products are being interacted with in the physical environment into their broader analytics insights.

Customized experiences for in-store sales representatives or customers can be created and tested with real time feedback and analytics. GoToTags enables store-to-store message comparisons and localized offers, bringing the intensive, direct customer relationships of the ecommerce experience to retail merchandising.

Radar now brings the same intensive customer relationship to the post-purchase experience as well. Paired with smart tag features like scan counters, authentication keys, and geo-fencing Radar can use GoToTags to register post-sale products, verify authenticity, offer extended warranties, create tie-ins to social media, and deepen the brand relationship with their customer. With the full richness of Connected Things, physical products can be connected to a digital experience that is responsive, intelligent and that changes how customers, products, and brands interact.