Narian Technologies NFC app suite review part twoReview Feature
Posted by Seth PlanckAugust 19th, 2011 at 1:10 PM Filed Under Featured, Latest News, Reviews
Narian Technologies has delivered retailers an Android suite of applications and NFC functions to create frictionless in-store experiences for consumers
The strengths of Narian Technologies NFC apps was discussed in our previous post and they were substantial. However, every Superman has his kryptonite and Narian’s suite of apps for retailers isn’t immune either. That said though, it has opportunities available to it, a place in the market and, of course, threats as with any gap in the market. We continue our editorial style SWOT analysis on Narian Technologies starting with weaknesses.
Narian Technologies Touch & Discover NFC android app suite weaknesses
First, let us say that weaknesses in a product that hasn’t reached market are actually opportunities. If we are going to properly analyze Narian Technologies, we have to poke a few holes. We found that the company is attempting to cover a lot of bases rather than creating a niche product that is the absolute best at what it does. In reality, nobody has products that are even alike to Narian’s in any of the markets it has chosen or in the services it is providing. But the services were so broad that in an hour and a half interview, we could only cover the main areas of the NFC suite, and that could be confusing and not allow retailers to appreciate the full extent of what is has on offer. When you present a product like Narian’s NFC Touch and Discover app suite, retailers won’t give you three hours to do so and so the messaging needs to be tightened up with overall features and benefits communicated in a concise and easy to understand manner.
We’ll admit we are picky and that aesthetics are subjective, but we felt the graphics in the user interface needed some TLC. That’s not a problem unique to Narian and we find the same in many apps we review. On one hand, the look and feel shouldn’t matter as the functionality is spot on. On the other hand, it isn’t even as if the way we saw the NFC app suite is how a retailer will display it due in part to the fact that everything is configurable and a retailer can completely redesign the UI with graphics of their own. However, if we were retailers and we were seeing the NFC app suite for the first time we would want to see a more pleasing design so we could imagine how our brand would look and feel within the app easier. Another addition to the NFC app suite that would add value is a simple bottom bar that allowed users to switch between functions within the app rather than having to go out to the main screen every time they wished to perform an action. This would also give the app more of an intuitive feel. It isn’t that the app is not intuitive – it’s just that it could be made easier for consumers. The people behind NFC Rumors have quite a bit of development experience and we base a lot of our comments here on what we know. Another nit picking niggle is that Narian Technologies’ website barely mentions the laundry list of NFC services and opportunities that this app can provide. In fairness to Narian, Einar Rosenberg, CEO, did say that the company was currently selecting a marketing outfit to be part of this process, so the design and content issues may be nullified by the time this very capable suite gets to market. He also knew that the demo user interface needed tightening up aesthetically so this is probably a very temporary issue.
Probably the biggest single weakness of the Narian Technologies product offering is that it isn’t finished. Developers are still coding away and that was evident in our demo of the NFC system. We couldn’t see the admin web side of the service, which is said to contain tools, wizards and analytics for retailers. So, we really cannot comment on that side of things. In fairness, Narian is aware of pretty much everything that we have identified as a weakness, and we feel confident that by the time the system comes out of private beta, all of our niggles will be satisfied. A website dedicated to the NFC app suite would give retailers the opportunity to conduct self-guided research. With a page on this website dedicated to each NFC function, it would help the sales process along also. Nothing in the weaknesses is make or break and we wouldn’t be taking the time to poke holes if this wasn’t one of the most important developments in NFC so far.
Narian Technologies Touch & Discover NFC android app suite opportunities
The product suite and its Android based mobile apps are exciting. The services can add value to every retailer we can think of and we see what Narian has created to be well thought out. It really addresses an aching need in the marketplace and utilizes NFC not for the sake of NFC, but instead plays to the strengths that the technology has to offer. Opportunities are abound for Narian and here are some we could identify straight out of the gate. The app suite has very little competition so Narian has the opportunity to be the market leader in retail NFC services that are aside from payments and coupons. The company is veering away from payments because it views that industry as something that is not a new capability. We can already pay for goods and services with current technology, and to be honest, the competition is among the fiercest of any industry at this time. That alone is amazing when you consider that, outside of trials, there is not one service available in the US market, and the UK has only one – the BarclayCard service.
During our glide through the apps, we couldn’t help but feel that marketing agencies are a huge resource for selling and configuring the product for their clients. We also saw the potential for demo NFC app suites that addressed different market segments could add to the allure, and spark the imagination of retailers and service providers and help open markets with a bang.
Narian has said that it plans to bring API capabilities to its suite and may even consider licensing opportunities and an SDK next year. This would allow developers and brands t0 truly make this innovative suite their own and allow Narian to pick up larger chains which would bring much welcomed income. The company also suggested that future versions of the suite could also hold web content defined by the retailer which could keep the apps stay fresh and allow added value in articles and tips to be added to the end NFC app. Every step through the presentation, we couldn’t help but think that Narian needed one big retailer to work with its system and that its services would almost become ubiquitous in the retailing and service industry. We think the Narian NFC app suite is one trade show away from going stellar, and the pricing model represents a huge opportunity for retailers to try the system without worrying about ubiquity or setup costs. Quite frankly, if as a business you can’t afford $20, you have bigger problems than worrying about whether your company can aid customers and build loyalty. The system is good, it is not, however, a miracle worker.
Lastly, we see Narian Technologies’ view of the industry and unique perspective on helping small retailers as well as larger organizations as an attribute that will truly bring opportunities. We feel sure that if the company is open to license out its intellectual property that larger players will want to incorporate Narian’s uniqueness into loyalty NFC apps and NFC payment wallets, and that this also could be a major source of income.
Narian Technologies Touch & Discover NFC android app suite threats
Every opportunity is a threat and every threat is an opportunity. Narian’s suite of application that are currently delivered in an Android NFC app for consumers is robust. However, Narian isn’t the only competitor on the block. Outfits like CustomerIn have already moved into the restaurant space and we expect to see more and more services that are niche to certain types of retail environments blossom within the next twelve months. The threats that Narian faces are the exact same threats that all companies in the NFC space that are attempting to carve out their market face. Increased competition, bigger players with better marketing budgets entering the market and copycat services arising. Just look at how many Groupon competitors there are. We feel if a company like Google wrote their own NFC apps and services that were similar to what Narian has to offer, the company may have trouble selling its value proposition. Although Narian’s services are well priced, as competition heats up the price battle will also begin and this could be a challenge that the startup company may face in a very real way. To avert most of these threats Narian needs to align itself with bigger players in the NFC marketplace and win some trophy accounts to secure its brand dominance. If it cannot brand itself to the retail and merchant markets, we feel its growth could be stunted by lack of income.
However, we feel the educational process is the biggest threat Narian faces. Being a pioneer is always a hard place to be in. Narian needs to find ways to educate retailers en masse about its services and what it can do for the bottom line and customer satisfaction and loyalty. Being a startup may hamper these efforts without the marketing budgets to spread the word far and wide.
Narian Technologies Summary
We are not going to lie, we are excited about what Narian Technologies has built. It has the power to be a game changer in the retail and service markets and it demonstrates what NFC can do. The company’s biggest asset is its CEO who is a known visionary within the NFC industry and adds innovation and strength to the suite of products that Narian offers. The sheer breadth of services that have been conceived and coded are staggering, and in our not so humble opinion, any retailer that refuses to at least look at what Narian has to offer needs their heads tested. When it comes to lost sales prevention and customer brand loyalty, we think Narian has a lot to offer. We expect to see great things from the startup.
Narian has hurdles to cross but what company in an emerging market doesn’t? Even Google’s and Apple’s products have bugs and elements that could do with improvement and Narian has taken the first steps in making a set of NFC apps that will no doubt have global value. The NFC apps are robust, the possibilities with how configurable the NFC apps are lead us to believe that with the right focus to developing the service more rather than simply building more add-on services will see Narian Technologies become a household name in the retailing and NFC markets. As more OS’s support NFC, we see that Narian’s value will increase. With a plethora of NFC phones just months away, Narian Technologies is in the right space at the right time. Sometime next week, Narian Technologies will begin its private invite beta of the system. As soon as we hear it has gone live, we will let you know here on NFC Rumors so you can sign up for consideration to become a test retailer. We wish them all the best and look forward to seeing them bring NFC services to the masses.