Yebhi LogoOnline fashion and lifestyle portal Yebhi.com has launched virtual stores across 30 Cafe Coffee Day (CCD) outlets in Delhi and Bangalore. These virtual store will feature pictures of merchandise from Yebhi.com website with a QR or NFC code. It’s not clear whether Yebhi plans to extend this initiative to other CCD outlets across the country

How to use: One can just select any item by scanning the QR code or by tapping on the NFC sticker through their smartphone. They will be taken to the product page on Yebhi.com where they can make a purchase. Yebhi claims that if one buys a product through virtual stores they will get an additional discount of Rs 200.

Note that since there are considerably lesser number of NFC devices available across various mobile platforms in India, it’s smart of Yebhi to also include a QR code. However, this also restricts possibilities that Yebhi could have achieved here. Yebhi could have integrated their wallet for payment through NFC, however in the current implementation, a tap on the NFC code leads the user only to the product page.

This looks like more of a marketing initiative than aiding business leads. The idea behind such moves is to encourage potential customers to use the service, and usually, mass media like TV or print newspapers are used. Yebhi recently raised $12 million as bridge round of funding from its existing investors, Fidelity Growth Partners India, Qualcomm Ventures, Nexus Venture Partners and Catamaran Ventures.

Similar initiatives

Recently, we have seen companies adopting more technology oriented methods to promote their product, of which, QR and Augmented Reality remains the top favorite with NFC implementation catching up.

In January 2013, Homeshop18 had launched a similar initiative by installing a virtual wall named ‘Scan N Shop’ at the  Terminal 3 (T3) domestic side of New Delhi’s-IGI Airport (IGIA). Homeshop18’s implementation only offered payment via cash on delivery, which we believe was much more swift than Yebhi’s implementation.

Mobile advertising solutions company TELiBrahma launched its Augmented Reality (AR) app PointART. Times of India also launched its AR app – Times Alive, while HT Media too has its own AR app – ARPLus. Recently, PVR Cinemas had launched an NFC-based PVR Wallet app for the recently launched BlackBerry 10 platform.

In October 2012, Bangalore-based mobile payments solution provider iKaaz had launched two new mobile payment platforms for enterprises and consumers called iKaaz Consumer Wallet for Enterprise and iKaaz mPOS. For the same, the company had launched an NFC based solution for merchants called Tap & Pay where merchants can receive payments from customers with a single tap from an NFC-based device.

In August 2012, Nokia India was looking to introduce a NFC-based ticketing system for its consumers and was apparently in talks with a majority of the metro rail projects in the country for this initiative. The company had reportedly partnered with the mobile payment company Paymate for NFC solutions and had tied up with banks for this service. Nokia had previously partnered with Paymate and the makers of the Bollywood movie Ra.One to offer content including ringtones and wallpapers, through the use of NFC tags. For this initiative, PayMate had installed around 20,000 tags across Nokia outlets, shopping malls and movie theatres in the country.

State Bank of India had also announced NFC enabled debit cards for Bangalore Metro project in July 2011, which allowed commuters to pay for their journeys with a simple tap while Tata Docomo had partnered with Xius to trial Near Field Communications based mobile payments in Hyderabad in February 2011