Consumers aware of facial recognition technology have only heard of its use in law enforcement. For instance, a police force in the UK has already used facial recognition software to track and find suspects of crimes.
Facial recognition applications are moving into corporate and public spheres, as well. A Fortune Magazine article reported that Walmart, the retailer, tested facial recognition applications to identify potential shoplifters.
The British government is currently testing computer vision technology that will permit train customers to pay their tickets as they walk through the gate. The software quickly identifies the face of a potential passenger and deducts the fare from the customer’s account with the train service.
Improved customer service, buyer analytics, intelligent marketing, and frictionless financial payments are just some of the applications emerging into the marketplace.
Customer and VIP Recognition
In the good old days, you would walk into your local store and the proprietor would know you. The same was true of your bank, your post office and many other businesses you went to. With the massive growth in population and consumerization, this is rarely the case anymore. It is not pleasant to be just a number when you enter a business establishment but, without technology, it is unlikely you will be recognized. Furthermore, the people serving you will know little to nothing about your personal preferences, circumstances, likes and dislikes. How are they are able to offer you a personalized service?
Enter facial recognition. While online shopping is booming, traditional retail sales still account for the vast majority of revenue. Figures released late in 2017 from U.S. Census Data put brick and mortar retail sales at 90%. As the environment becomes more competitive, retailers and the brands they sell need to become more innovative in their marketing efforts and customer service.
One of the first facial recognition applications many retailers and other businesses are using is simply to identify customers. The system will give them whatever data they have and the system’s intelligence has been able to gather on the person. At the very least, they will know if they are frequent visitors or big spenders but ultimately, they should have a wealth of valuable information on them.
CaliBurger in California is using facial recognition to identify members of their loyalty program. Members opt into the program so privacy concerns are not an issue. The system will recognize them and bring up details of their loyalty program status. It can even make meal recommendations based on historical purchases.
This technology is particularly useful in casinos, hotels, upmarket clubs and banks. Regular visitors and VIPs will be instantly recognized and can be given the attention they deserve.
Human Analytics – Shopper Behavior
Another use of facial recognition is to access information on the people in a mall or retail store. It can determine numbers, age, sex, ethnicity and other relevant data. Furthermore, it can study their behavior, patterns, time spent in a particular area and other in-store habits. Some systems are able to determine the mood of a shopper which will help stores identify frustrated or angry customers.
All of this data can provide valuable insights for store planners, merchandisers and marketers.
Retailers also use facial recognition to target specific adverts at shoppers based on either stored information, demographics or behavior. This makes the marketing more effective and personalized. This is mainly used in retail outlets but could effectively be used in a range of environments.
Fast Payments and Financial Transactions
There are already a range of app-based payment methods that are faster than traditional means of payment but nothing could be faster than facial recognition based payment. This is already used in some stores and food outlets and could be applied to any environment where payment is required. Again, CaliBurger in California is an example of this technology in practice. Based on the success of their results in California, they are currently expanding this technology to Seattle, Maryland and Washington D.C. area.
The same technology is used by banks to identify the customer and authorize withdrawals or other financial transactions. It is faster and more accurate than traditional forms of identification. Bank of America and Lloyds Banking Group are both testing facial recognition and other biometric solutions to identify and verify customers. So far, this technology is only used on digital platforms but they are looking into extending the use to ATMs as well as physical branches.
All of the above examples are already in use in various parts of the world. Many are still in a trial stage but the technology of each application is improving at an impressive pace.
Facial recognition has the power to enrich people’s lives and improve many aspects of service delivery. While law enforcement has been the first to embrace the technology, consumers will find it soon in nearly every aspect of their buying experience. The face of the marketplace will never be the same.
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