Will retailers use facial recognition tech to reshape store layouts?

November 14, 2022

New university research examines how grocers can take advantage of in-store cameras that use advanced artificial intelligence (AI) technologies to read facial expressions — raise an eyebrow, open eyes, smile — to improve store layouts.

“Emotion detection algorithms use computer vision techniques to locate the face and identify important landmarks on the face, such as the corners of the eyebrows, the tip of the nose, and the corners of the mouth,” said Dr. Kien Nguyen from Australia’s Queensland University of Technology, in a press release.

He added, “Other behaviors like staring at a product and reading a product’s packaging are a marketing gold mine for understanding customer interest in a product.”

Researchers note that while the use of facial recognition in retail is “still controversial” for privacy reasons, the movie data can be anonymized or anonymized so that customers are only examined at an aggregate level.

AI is also commonly used in in-store cameras for shoplifting prevention, according to the study, and is increasingly being used for applications such as pay-with-your-face, check-out free food shops, and visual and voice search.

However, the researchers indicated that the traditional approach to designing store layouts is currently based on a “passive response” to customer behavior, e.g. B. based on sales data.

In addition to understanding emotions through facial expressions and customer characterization, layout managers could use heat map analysis, human trajectory tracking, and customer action detection techniques to make their decisions.

The study states: “Importantly, the traditional design process does not reflect (1) how customers actually navigate the aisles, (2) how much time customers actually spend in each area, and (3) the visible emotions (eg. B. Happiness) Customers show in response to a product.”

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An article from 2012 Bloomberghowever, already weighed the potential benefits of facial recognition technologies for store layouts, window displays and promotions against the legal and ethical implications of collecting personal data with or without consent.

Privacy concerns have not abated. In July, Kmart and Bunnings in Australia have been forced to halt the use of facial recognition technology in their stores, which they claim is being used for security purposes as part of an investigation by the Australian Data Protection Agency.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What do you think of the potential benefits of using store layout design? Face recognition technologies? Can privacy concerns be overcome even with the assurance that buyers are only profiled anonymously?

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“What do you think of the potential benefits for designing store layouts using facial recognition technologies?”