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Eye-tracking and Facial Recognition Symbolizing the Upcoming Retail Tech Wave

By Debjani Chaudhury - January 27, 2020 3 Mins Read

As facial recognition and eye-tracking technologies slowly weave their way into the hospitality and retail tech stack, biometric data has become the hero enriching the shopping experience.

The retail and hospitality industry have begun weaving IT mix to improve their customer experience. Hotels and stores are testing retail facial recognition technology to speed up the ordering and checkout process. Eye-tracking software has helped retailers improve user interfaces on e-commerce websites as well as in physical stores, simplifying the process of product mapping and placement on store shelves.

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Customers in several restaurant chains can order meals on kiosks, integrating digital loyalty programs into the kiosks systems. Eliminating humans from processes like taking orders and running payments speeds up the process, enriches the customer experience, and also minimizes errors.

Retail facial recognition connects loyalty program names and credit cards to customers having mixed results. Concerns about data privacy are referred to as the main factor that can make some consumers hesitant to use the system. Only about 20% of the restaurants’ customers actually opt into facial recognition for checkout and order.

That said, older customers have more reservations about giving up personal data, compared to the millennial-generation, buying into the firm’s retail facial recognition systems at the same rate. Consumer privacy concerns while opting into retail facial recognition are a barrier to widespread acceptance of the technology.  Some consumers are still agnostic on new tech such as biometric IDs, preferring human interaction during the purchase for enhanced trust.

Other than the necessary changes brought in by the technology, there are many computer vision tools in the market which enable automated age verification for age-restricted items. Such niche applications of technology help the services to be much more accurate than humans. Biometrics, in general, have made a mark in the industry for matching customers to loyalty memberships and enabling quicker checkouts.

In particular, facial recognition has a difficult path to acceptance in retail among consumers. Experts argue that alternatives such as palm recognition for payment would be more accurate and less intrusive for payments though there could also be a much more innovative AI-driven biometric approach to identify individuals in the future.

Are the Growing Biometric Recognition Technologies Threat To Privacy?

Undoubtedly, the opportunity is massive, but firms need to take a leap of faith to succeed. Taking that leap of faith is hard for some organizations, but the technology is there to assist. The integration of niche technologies like facial recognition into existing systems has never been smooth. And, the process is prolonged. On the back end, the operation needs to change completely to make way for new biometric data feeds to work their way into long-standing payment systems or tracking data. Firms need to have patience, willingness, and employee readiness to sustain the process of tech transition.

Many retailers are struggling to get their systems and data management work in harmony. Managing data effectively and prioritizing consumer privacy is the biggest concern. There is indeed a massive opportunity which urges the need for the leap of faith. But a move for the adoption of these technologies needs to be backed by training and employee preparation largely. Once a company survives the implementation period of these technologies, they will be able to cut through the extreme market competition through enhanced consumer experience.


Debjani Chaudhury

Debjani Chaudhury works as an Associate Editor with OnDot Media. In this capacity, she contributes editorial articles for two platforms, focusing on the latest global technology and trends.Debjani is a seasoned Content Developer who comes with 3 years of experience with Fashion, IT, and International Marketing industries. She has represented India in International trade forums like Hannover Messe, Germany.

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