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Facial Recognition in Retail - What Are the Benefits

by David Rodeck

There's no doubt that security is a concern for retail business owners. Although it would be nice if you could recognize every person who walks through the doors of your business, it's just not possible to remember that many faces. 

Cue, facial recognition in retail. This new technology has the potential to not only improve security in general but also increase sales in your business. 

Facial recognition software scans the unique features of a person's face to identify who they are. In the same way everyone has a unique fingerprint, everyone has a unique "faceprint." The software can track who is coming into your store and alert you to certain customers, both good and bad. Here are four ways facial recognition could benefit your business:

1. Preventing Theft

Inventory shrinkage cost retailers $48.9 billion in 2016, according to the National Retail Federation. Your security personnel can't be watching everyone at all times, so people who have stolen from you before can sneak in again. If someone looks suspicious, your security team has to wait until the person actually steals something to step in — often wasting valuable time.

With facial recognition, your security team can get an instant alert when a banned customer comes into your business. The software can compare faces against known shoplifter databases, allowing you to proactively identify thieves before they steal from you. In fact, using facial recognition in retail has been proven to decrease shoplifting by about 20 percent, according to FaceFirst.

2. Tracking Employees

Not only can you track customers, you can also track employees. With facial recognition software, you won't have to worry about missing access cards because your employees' faces can be used to open doors. Tracking your employees can help prevent internal theft and provide you peace of mind knowing that only authorized individuals can enter secure areas.

You can also prevent time theft if you have employees clock in and out of work using facial recognition. This way, a dishonest employee can't have someone else clock in for them when they aren't actually working.

3. Analyzing Customer Data

As you track people who come in and out of your business, you can use this information to improve sales and marketing. For example, if a VIP customer comes in, you can make sure an employee helps them right away. 

When different customers come in, you can set your program to automatically change the environment. For instance, you could change the music from classical to modern when a millennial enters your store. The software can even track customer behavior and identify patterns, like if women are buying more of a certain product than men. Your sales team could then use this information to make more sales.

4. Speed Up Checkout

Finally, facial recognition software can speed up the checkout process. With this technology, regular customers could sign up for a store membership simply by using their faceprint. That way, when they return, they can automatically collect store rewards without any monotonous card scanning. 

Facial recognition in retail could soon make it easier to pay, as well. Customers can register their credit or bank information so that they pay automatically at the cash register using their faceprint. Customers will be happy to skip the line — and you won't need to hire as many employees to manage checkout.

Facial recognition in retail is still in its infancy. It will take time for companies to learn how to use this technology effectively. But the long-term financial and security benefits make it clear that this could eventually be a game changer for the retail industry.