How Facial Recognition Will Change Smart Retail
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How Facial Recognition Will Change Smart Retail


"Smart retail" refers to the use of technology to improve customer experience, streamline operations, and optimize sales opportunities. In particular, the adoption of facial recognition systems has increased over the past year, gaining attention as an all-in-one solution providing health and safety functions, store security, VIP/loyalty program enhancements, contactless payment options, and valuable customer analytics. This article reviews some smart retail use cases and solutions that will help boost your retail sales to the next level.

What Do Retail Stores Use Facial Recognition Technologies For?

In-store retail is facing a great challenge: attracting customers into physical stores while keeping them safe and healthy through mandatory mask-wearing, temperature checks, and hand sanitizing. For retail staff, typical workday processes like clocking-in/out, using POS terminals and other shared surfaces, and handling cash have also required changes. Ultimately, retailers need to maintain secure environments and prevent losses, simultaneously analyzing customer behavior. Facial recognition is the answer to many of these complications.

1. Retail Analytics

While online retailers can easily collect data on consumer behaviors, brick-and-mortar retailers have difficulty generating data-driven insights. Facial recognition like FaceMe® can give traditional stores a broader view of customer demographics and behaviors: who is buying what and when, and even their mood during the purchasing process. This data drives efficiency, provides insight on product placement, and enhances store flow. This translates to cost savings and competitive advantages while also providing superior customer service that keeps shoppers happy, engaged, and loyal.

How to Use Facial Recognition for Retail Analytics

  • Foot Traffic
  • Often performed manually with a clicker system to calculate foot traffic, this tool compares the number of people passing by your store versus entering. Facial recognition can automate this task, and easily analyze the data to help you determine if you should adjust storefront displays, business hours, or store locations to improve overall performance.

  • Average Shopping Time
  • This data not only shows how much time customers typically spend at your location, but more importantly, if their visit results in a purchase. If facial recognition reveals that the average customer is doing a quick lap around the store then leaving with nothing in hand, it's time to change the store flow or merchandise selections.

  • Peak Traffic Hours and Demographics
  • The 50/20 rule states that stores generally see about 50% of a week's total traffic and sales in just 20 hours. Facial recognition's constant monitoring allows you to discover when these peak segments occur so that you can schedule appropriate employee coverage and display new inventory: critical steps in driving top-line performance. Knowing customer demographics during peak times is also lucrative. Insights gathered from facial recognition technology, such as FaceMe® can help you accurately plan sales, offers, and displays to reach target audiences during these key times.

  • Customer Mood and Behavior
  • It can be difficult to discern how consumers feel about a retail experience, or about the products they are buying or avoiding. Facial recognition can help with this by assessing and charting emotions: happy, sad, angry, surprised, indifferent, etc. This analysis can help to evaluate, and if needed, make adjustments to areas such as pricing, displays, and customer service. With facial recognition you can also learn behavioral trends, such as whether customers in pairs purchase more impulsively or if larger groups buy smaller items as gifts for each other, unlocking a new dimension of in-store analytics.

Smart Digital Signage and Kiosk Applications

Displaying relevant, interactive, and personalized ads based on data-driven consumer analytics can greatly increase sales. It is impossible to create an ad that accurately targets all audiences, but with digital signage you can rotate ads based on individual shopper demographics. Similarly, digital kiosks use facial recognition to provide customers with personalized recommendations, as well as providing self-service checkout functions with contactless payment options.

FaceMe SDK is an optimal solution for integrating facial recognition in IoT devices like digital signage and kiosks. Optimized for various AI inference engines, and supported on several platforms, analyzing your demographics and bringing precision to your marketing efforts is now simple and easy.

Find out how to integrate FaceMe SDK, a cross-platform AI facial recognition engine, into edge-based AIoT/IoT devices for all your business scenarios.

2. Health Management

Facial recognition has unique health applications that promote overall health and create safer retail environments, especially during events like Covid-19.

Health Kiosks

Comprehensive health kiosks check customer and employee body temperature and mask-wearing, and dispense hand sanitizer, before granting entry. This ensures that everyone in a retail space is safe, and eliminates the need for extra staff to perform these checks, which increases health risks. Read more about how to implement health and safety systems in your workplace.

Mask Checks

Cameras equipped with facial recognition can perform continuous mask monitoring on multiple people simultaneously, and send instant alerts to security regarding any non-compliant individuals. Cameras equipped with advanced facial recognition systems like FaceMe not only detect if individuals remove their masks entirely but also if they are wearing them incorrectly, not fully covering their nose or mouth.

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3. VIP and Loyalty Programs

VIP and Loyalty Programs

VIP and loyalty customers are your greatest asset as they spread awareness about your brand and act as ambassadors for your products. Over half of U.S. marketers saw increased engagement when implementing personalization strategies. As such, treating VIPs like royalty, including tailoring every aspect of their experience whenever possible, is a valuable strategy.

How can facial recognition enhance store visits?

Facial recognition enables personalized VIP and loyalty program experiences for opted-in customers. Staff can receive alerts when particular customers enter the store, with a prompt to greet the customer by name. When paired with CRM solutions, staff members can pull up customers' preferences and purchase histories to make specialized recommendations and offer tailored promotions. During checkout, staff can automatically apply rewards and promotions without the need for a physical loyalty card.

How can facial recognition enhance post-visit experiences?

The ability to make VIPs welcome, regardless of particular store location, generates positive associations with the brand itself. By logging that a VIP was in one of your locations, a more personalized post-visit experience can be provided. For example, you can offer recommendations for companion stores in the area, tempt them with special deals, or even offer a specialized thank you from the specific store branch. With FaceMe, you can make your best customers feel like royalty, generating deeper brand loyalty.

Contact us to get an evaluation version and price quote today!

4. Security and Loss Prevention

Retail theft has long been a significant issue for store owners, but facial recognition technology improves security and prevents loss. The National Retail Federation revealed at the end of 2021 that 75% of retailers saw a rise in organized crime, amounting to an average cost of $700,000 per $1 billion in sales.

Identifying Block-listed Individuals

By cross-checking everyone who enters the store against a database of identified shoplifters and unruly customers, facial recognition can detect and deter repeat offenders. When cameras equipped with facial recognition identify offenders, the system immediately alerts personnel with the person's identity, location within the store, and reasons for block-listing to ensure that the individual is approached appropriately and safely. Establishing this block-list of known offenders also helps reduce mistakes and eliminate bias. Furthermore, this tactic frees up loss prevention personnel, allowing them to focus on keeping shoppers and employees safe.

Securing Restricted Areas

Many retail stores and shopping malls contain restricted areas only for authorized employees. Security cameras and smart door locks equipped with facial recognition can control access, only unlocking for authorized personnel. Integrated systems can also send alerts to security whenever someone tries to or succeeds in gaining unauthorized access. This type of deployment also performs an essential safety measure by monitoring how much time an authorized person spends in a potentially dangerous area (like freezer storage), and sending rescue if they exceed a preset amount of time.

Facial recognition software, like FaceMe Security, can be integrated into retail stores’ existing security and surveillance systems to detect people of interest based on pre-enrolled facial templates. For example, it can recognize VIPs, allow authorized employees to enter restricted areas, or notify personnel when a known shoplifter visits a store.

Create smarter surveillance and access control systems with facial recognition technology today!

5. Time and Attendance Management

The outdated time and attendance system of punching tickets, or tracking via computer logs, is often an afterthought for employees and creates unnecessary administrative work. Using facial recognition, an operator can know precisely when an employee arrives, takes breaks, and leaves for the day, resulting in more accurate timecards and efficient payroll. It also increases convenience for employees by avoiding issues such as lost or forgotten timecards.

For example, a customer integrated FaceMe technology in the employee screening system for a large shopping mall. The system uses kiosks to check-in employees upon arrival. This contactless entry process includes masking and temperature checks, health questions, hand sanitizer dispensing, and employee identity verification. After passing these checks employees receive a wristband for the day, indicating to coworkers and shoppers that they have been tested and verified.

Using an all-in-one solution like FaceMe Security with Check-in Add-on provides 24/7 monitoring coupled with employee time and attendance functionality. The solution makes the most cumbersome, manual processes automatic and simple. FaceMe Security is a smart surveillance system using facial recognition to detect and identify multiple individuals simultaneously from a database of pre-enrolled faces. The Check-in Add-on complements this system by checking employee information during the facial recognition identification process and displaying clock-in information.

Contact us to get an evaluation version and price quote for FaceMe Security today!

6. Payment Systems

Facial recognition enables brick-and-mortar stores to do what their online counterparts have been doing for years: use shoppers' purchase history to generate personalized product recommendations, offers, and coupons. This level of data collection enhances overall customer experience and helps build brand loyalty.

Point-of-sale (POS) systems that use facial recognition technology can verify customer identity and quickly and easily authorize payments. Like other biometric verification methods, customers don't need to take out a credit card or smartphone to pay. Facial recognition also helps prevent fraudulent transactions. Even if your card or smartphone is stolen, the latest anti-spoofing technology prevents criminals from tricking the facial recognition system. This technology ensures that the face in front of the camera is not only a real person, but also matches with the database, thwarting spoofing attempts.

Cash registers and POS terminals can even integrate facial recognition for authorized employees, to ensure only they have access during scheduled periods. Instead of keys or codes, this can also be used when a cashier needs authorization for certain transactions.

What Smart Retail Solutions Are Available?

Several facial recognition retail solutions are available to enhance your retail business.

Top 3 Facial Recognition Hardware Solutions for Retail

Nosher (by Ordyx): Contactless Payments and POS Integration

Nosher provides an innovative approach, integrating with FaceMe facial recognition technology to offer contactless payments. With the new Nosher/FaceMe integration, guests can pay simply by using their face. The payment experience is touchless and does not require a phone, card, or cash. Customers scan a QR code to complete a one-time registration and then use only their face to make payments at any Nosher-powered establishment. Instead of replacing existing merchant POS systems, the solution easily integrates into them, such as Ordyx POS and Clover, with many other point-of-sale integrations to come. The Nosher solution will be available in the of Summer 2022.

FaceScan: Contactless Temperature Screening Kiosks

Thermal scanners are critical for identifying customers who may pose potential health risks. FaceScan is a contactless temperature screening kiosk that uses the FaceMe facial recognition engine to power its check-in capabilities, temperature verification, and mask detection features. FaceMe enables retailers to expedite entry processes, promote social distancing, and check body temperature in less than a second from up to 5 feet away. Find out more about our partnership.

Sentry Health Kiosks™ (by Municipal Parking Services): Entrance Control and Health Measurement

Sentry Health Kiosks™ are contactless kiosks that conduct health screening and control entry. Retailers needed a way to prevent the spread of Covid-19 while spending less time verifying identity, checking masks, and screening temperatures. Luckily, Municipal Parking Services integrated FaceMe into its Sentry Health Kiosks™ to perform several functions: check if a person is wearing a mask properly, report body temperature, supply hand sanitizer, and manage access control. The kiosks also have pop-up screening questions to check a person's health status, which users answer via gesture-based responses. More details are available here.

Developing Hardware with Facial Recognition Technology

Retailers with existing hardware and development teams should choose a facial recognition SDK to easily integrate facial recognition. FaceMe SDK is a ready-to-use SDK designed for implementation in IoT devices across a spectrum of use cases. Depending on your needs and scope, you can customize the solution with your choice of chipsets and cameras. See our top recommendations.

Find out how to integrate FaceMe SDK, a cross-platform AI facial recognition engine, into edge-based AIoT/IoT devices for all business scenarios.

Top 3 Facial Recognition Software Solutions for Retail

FaceMe Security

FaceMe Security is a turnkey software solution for smart surveillance and access control in retail environments. When paired with a mainstream VMS, or the VMR Add-on, it maintains safety and security by providing real-time monitoring and alerts when VIPs, people of interest, and certain employees arrive. Check-in and Health Add-ons are available for time and attendance and health measurement needs.

FaceMe Health

For current pandemic concerns, FaceMe Health is an integrated software solution using facial recognition to perform mask detection and identity authentication. When using thermal cameras it can also provide contactless temperature measurements. CyberLink’s U messaging system also provides alerts when shoppers with improperly worn masks or elevated temperatures enter the premises.

FaceView (by Advantech): Visitor Identification and Notification System

Advantech's FaceView industrial app is a FaceMe enabled facial recognition system for AIoT applications. While most retail stores have adopted IoT devices to reduce labor and improve services, devices are often not integrated with internal systems. By installing FaceView on their devices, the high-precision FaceMe facial recognition engine can perform real-time identification and analyze customer attributes, such as gender, age, and emotion, ultimately resulting in a better understanding of customer needs. The integrated notification system can also identify VIPs and block-listed individuals and send alerts to staff to help them provide better services and necessary actions. Read more about this solution.

What's the Future of Facial Recognition in Retail Stores?

Post Covid-19, retailers will need new and exciting ways to attract customers back. With FaceMe facial recognition technology, retailers can create faster and more frictionless transactions, boost customer satisfaction by collecting rich analytics, offer targeted advertising, better manage employee attendance and store security, and provide personalization to VIPs and loyalty program members. Investments in such technology will ensure retailers continue to provide customers with the best possible in-store experience, boosting brand loyalty and increasing sales.

For a complete overview of facial recognition and how to deploy it, read Facial Recognition at the Edge – The Ultimate Guide. For more information on specific facial recognition use cases, read our Top 7 Use Cases for Facial Recognition.

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