Biometric verification. Modern young man with the phone.

Facial Recognition Technology Profiles In-Store Retail Shoppers

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Malls and retailers are installing facial recognition technology for the purpose of tracking shoppers to learn more about customer demographics. This tech can be used to collect data about a shopper’s age, gender, and even his or her ethnicity, says Jardine OneSolution (JOS) group managing director, Mark Lunt.

Getting to Know You

“One of the big things brick-and-mortar retailers are getting into now is knowing their customers … tracking who’s entering their mall and how they’re behaving,” said Lunt.

JOS is a firm that works in facial recognition for the retail sector. It assists retail stores with improving their understanding of their own customers by way of profiling those who walk through the doors and tracking their movements within the shop.

The type of information gathered by the retail facial recognition technology includes “how many people are coming in, age, ethnicity, gender — it’s all about knowing the foot traffic better and trying to serve more appropriate offers to those customers.”

Respect for Consumer Anonymity

JOS ensured that all customer identities remain anonymous throughout the data collection process via facial recognition. It also underscored the potential benefits to both the retailers and the shoppers themselves. The goal is, after all, to improve the customer experience by gaining a better understanding of precisely who the shoppers are and what they want from a store.

Jardine OneSolution described several types of changes that can occur as a result of facial recognition technology use. One involved adjusting the store’s music in order to better suit the shopper’s mood.

That said, JOS recognizes that retailers continue to experience limitations in the way they can use and protect the data they collect. “Technology is not the barrier to the systems being implemented, it’s privacy concerns, it’s cultural concerns,” he said.

Customers Want Privacy

Consumers regularly read headlines about the dubious use of collected personal data and about the latest data breaches. The idea of using facial recognition technology use to obtain information about them still causes many shoppers to bristle. This, despite massive investments by retailers into making sure data is securely stored and can be reached only by authorized parties for acceptable purposes.

Lunt agreed that businesses must maintain a high level of sensitivity to these consumer concerns. Equally, customers need to take care with the way they share their own sensitive data.

Note: The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the view of Alvexo on the matter.