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Face Recognition Systems in the Service of Retail
17.09.2014 8792

Face Recognition Systems in the Service of Retail

Competition in the market makes us constantly invent new ways to surprise the buyer. Low prices, discounts, discount cards - all this is in the past. Business consultant Maria Gerasimenko knows how to impress customers of the 21st century.

Maria Gerasimenko Maria Gerasimenko -

CEO of FashionAdvisers, an expert in the management and development of fashion business.

@mariagerra, www.fashion-advisers.ru

In February this year, at CPM, Clever Fashion invited retailers to try a unique product - the Clever Service exceptional service system. At the end of the three-month pilot launch, we met with Maria and asked to tell what kind of service it was and what advantages it gives shops.

“The Clever Service project idea was born after meeting a company that developed a system that can recognize faces and correlate them with a database,” says Maria. - At that time, this technology was introduced in public places where it is necessary to identify unwanted persons: in schools, government agencies. My favorite topic is loyalty in retail. Therefore, the idea that it is possible to recognize the face of the buyer, to compare with his name and data and to provide an exceptional service based on this information, immediately ignited me. Customer retention is the main goal of retail in a stagnant market. ”

Marketing, store and video

Almost all the leading market experts say that recognition systems can be an excellent marketing tool in retail. The equipment that was introduced as part of security programs can be an excellent driver for increasing sales. “Originally introduced to reduce theft-related losses, the system is increasingly being used for marketing purposes,” comments Joe Rosencrantz, CEO of FaceFirst, a biometric platform provider.

From the possibilities just breathtaking. “This is a dynamic advertisement, precisely aimed at a specific client, and the identification of aesthetic and price preferences of consumers, and brand building ... Shops can track not only what customers bought, but also what they consider but don’t buy,” continues Rosencrantz . Biometrics related to cash registers and the entire logistics system can even help calculate procurement volumes. ” According to market analysts, such video recognition systems will be widely introduced in retail in the next five years. Moreover, positive results have already been recorded.

“Dear Elena Sergeevna” ...

So how does the recognition system work for the benefit of loyalty systems? Everything is simple. At the entrance to the store, a camera is installed that recognizes the faces of people entering the store and transfers the image to a computer. He, in turn, compares the received picture with a database and, if this person has already been to your store, then displays information about him and his previous purchases, his size of clothes or shoes, as well as additional information that he indicated, for example, when signing profiles. Based on this knowledge, the consultant addresses the client, for example: “Hello, Elena! How was your holiday? Sandals did not disappoint? By the way, we have got new red shoes, as you like. ” If the store is large, there is an option to use headphones, according to which one employee will inform the employees of the hall who has entered the store, what he likes, and so on. In a store with high traffic, contact with the buyer will be established at the checkout. Instead of aleatherg if there is a discount card, the cashier will immediately say: “Elena, the last time you bought a turquoise blouse from us, now we have the same, only with a different sleeve, want to try on it?” If this is a luxury boutique, then contact will come earlier, at the entrance: "Elena, we know that you love red, we have a collection, a new collection with an incredible choice in this color scheme, let's see something." The phrase “we know” knocks customers away - they feel their importance for this store. And no discount card is needed. The camera can scan up to 20 faces per second; physically they cannot enter the store anymore.

30 frames per second

This is the average speed of most recognition systems. The system analyzes the frames and isolates the best by checking with the database. All this happens in real time. If no match is found, the image is immediately deleted. If there is a match, the system informs the store employee about it.

“Technical equipment can be anything, that’s nice,” explains Maria Gerasimenko. “You can put the most ordinary webcam, however, it will have a greater error in determining faces.” In general, the error is at most 5%: the program will be able to recognize your regular customer, even if he grows a beard or does a circular facelift. Maria clarifies: “We provide software that easily integrates with any electronic database: 1C, Oracle RPAS and so on. So far, problems have arisen only when combined with the R-Keeper program. ”

The minimum package costs 110 thousand rubles, but this is not a waste, but an investment in a business. Clever Fashion offers a month of free testing to stores located in Moscow. “But in the first month, as a rule, no particular results are visible,” Maria explains. “The whole point is that we are developing an individual loyalty program for each store.” After installation, the company conducts an 8-hour introductory training for staff. The goal is not to instruct sellers to use the system correctly, but to teach them how to communicate with customers. When the store just installed this program, it will not have a single profile-face link in its database, and they will need to be created manually. Then the seller must also manually enter the information obtained in the dialogue with the buyer: where he works, how many children he has, when they have birthdays. “To do this, the consultant must be able to gently lead a person into contact, grab small phrases in a conversation,” says Maria.

There is a contact

I wonder how sellers reacted to innovations? “The first reaction is:“ Do we need to work harder now? ”Maria says. “It is important for sellers to correctly explain that this is an additional sales tool, the use of which will directly affect the store’s profit and their salary.” Adaptation of personnel takes about a month. Maria clarifies: “At first, it’s necessary to often conduct a“ mystery shopping (read about the action on page XX - editorial note), in order to understand whether the staff begins to implement this system in their work or continues to work as before. If they do not rebuild, keep records, then there will be no effect. It’s necessary to think over the system of motivation for sellers: the staff is always very wary of all changes in the company, and therefore, during this period, one must be especially careful ”. Untrained consultants have problems with a computer program, especially if they are adult sellers. The interface is very simple and intuitive, so most sellers master the system in an hour.

For the most part, the reaction of buyers is positive: people rejoice that they no longer need to explain a hundred times what they want. Of course, there are those who do not want to be recognized: “When we start a client profile, we always ask if they want to indicate their name or prefer to stay incognito. If they do not want to be recognized, then we simply assign a number to the profile. In this case, we see that the client came under the number 12345, and he usually buys white blouses and black skirts. ” As a rule, those who do not indicate their name are few, no more than 25%.

The results of the pilot implementation are impressive: “The maximum increase in sales like to like (this month compared to last month) is 28% in women's and children's clothing stores. Unfortunately, we have not tried on shoes yet. ” In the future, even greater growth is forecasted. The conversion for regular customers is also increasing: "While it is difficult to give exact numbers, the expected conversion growth will be about 40%." Customer loyalty is clearly growing, because attention to previous experience is always pleasant to the client. First of all, the entire service in the store is changing. Relations, when demand exceeded supply, unfortunately ended. And now the most important thing for the retailer is to surprise the buyer and convince him to purchase it in this place. “The store should have a soul, buyers should see that they are loved and waiting. The real service was in family shops in Europe, where all friends, neighbors came, and the seller always knew who he loved, and buyers could not imagine how they can make a purchase in some other place. We try to reproduce this story, only using innovation and modern technology. The basic principle is the phrase “Business is not a company plus a company, but a person plus a person,” Maria explains.

Top secret

Recognition systems made the leap from science fiction to reality in just ten years, but they only appeared in retail a couple of years ago. And as soon as the systems began to be introduced, they started talking about the confidentiality of personal information that sellers carefully collect for the customer database. After all, the base can be sold, put in the public domain, etc.

Storage and protection of biometric databases is also one of the tasks that confronts a retailer using the system. It is well known that carefully guarded banking facilities for credit cards were compromised only over the past year several times.

Who is responsible if the biometric profile is stolen? What new crimes are possible if criminals have access not only to ordinary information about personal data, but also to data on the physical characteristics of a person and the complex profile of his consumer behavior and preferences? The legal space surrounding technology is very blurry. If a serious violation was discovered or the incident was handled poorly, there is a risk that the legislation will draw conclusions too hasty and ultimately paralyze the technology.

However, market experts are very optimistic. Technologies are being improved, risks are being laid down and programmed at the development stage. And the profit from systems for retail is obvious.

Competition in the market makes us constantly invent new ways to surprise the buyer. Low prices, discounts, discount cards - all this is in the past. He knows how to impress customers of the XNUMXst century ...
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