Although most are unwilling to admit this, retailers by now make widespread, secretly use of biometrics to track employees, catch shoplifters and advance store security.
An article on New York Magazine in October 2018 titled, “Smile! The Secretive Business of Facial-Recognition Software in Retail Stores,” featured the point of the technology’s behind-the-scenes use at retailers, stadiums and other event sites. Peter Trepp, CEO of facial recognition software company FaceFirst, told McClatchy in May 2018 that his company can “match a face against the database of 25 million people in just under a second,” and the organisation’s website calculates hundreds of big-box stores, department stores, grocery stores, superstores, pharmacies and Fortune 500s among its customers.
A similar piece of writing, published by BuzzFeed News in August 2018, titled, “Thousands of Stores Will Soon Use Facial Recognition, and They Won’t Need Your Consent,” also disclosed the technology’s occurrence and explored deeper into its privacy inferences.
For instance, VentureBeat stated in September 2019 that Microsoft had started Dynamics 365 Connected Store, a software application that allows retailers in tracking their customers in stores by computer vision, cameras and internet of things (IoT) sensors. The system has the ability to make personalized suggestions based on browsing and buying practices.
“Once companies are using this type of technology for crime prevention purposes, there’s no reason why they should not be using it for upselling their customers,” Arturo Falck, CEO of startup Whoo.ai, told Biometrics Update in November 2018.
Adrian Weidmann, a Minneapolis-based retail consultant, disclosed to New York Magazine that “most” stores, from family-owned comfort marts to big-box superstores, have by now introduced a significant part of the technology to help this happen, including security cameras and cameras in digital signs and kiosks that track interest to ads. “It’s the same camera lens,” he told.
As there’s no solid proof that an en-masse shift has happened, there have been trials. For example, Saks Fifth Avenue started using facial recognition in 2016 to both recognize VIPs and catch shoplifters, Lowe’s disclosed that they have used it to spot shoplifters, and Walmart has tried it previously. Others have also discovered the use of body-worn cameras and smart glasses to do like this.
Weidmann said New York Magazine that he’s already observed some companies more officially link their security and marketing processes. As per the article, he just worked with The Home Depot to assist marketing staffers use security footage to track shoppers and watch which products they searched.
Perry Kramer, senior vice president of BRP Consulting, forecasted that facial recognition will more probably catch on in some parts over others, particularly where people have assurance that a retailer will defend their privacy or think that sharing their information will make their life unfussier. “If you walk into an Apple store and they know who you are, it’s probably not as scary as walking into a Kohl’s store and they know who you are,” Kramer said.