Why Retailers Are Getting Behind Tech to Read Your Facial Expressions

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Scrambling for solutions in an increasingly crowded market, some retailers have gone beyond marketing strategies and re-branding measures. The latest technology to experiment with tactics to better understand consumer behavior is facial recognition software.

With the filing of a patent to incorporate such technology, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has garnered attention for the potential of deploying it. Video cameras might one day be in stores to surveil — and analyze — the emotions of its customers. Maya Mikhailov, chief marketing officer and co-founder at retail mobile app developer GPShopper, shared her take on this technology with FN.

How might this technology help with customer service?

Maya Mikhailov: “If a shopper is looking upset, a store associate could be dispatched to help them. The technology could also play a role in product or selection support: Imagine a shopper lingering in front of a shelf with 20 brands of detergent appearing perplexed. A message on their phone or a voice-activated shelf could ask them if they require help.”

How else could this type of tech help retailers?

M.M.: “These technologies can see which in-store displays and ads are most effective in getting a customer’s attention. This can also extend to the layout of the store itself, interpreting expressions to determine if there are areas that cause joy or frustration. This type of technology could also monitor checkout lines and see when customers become impatient, helping managers know when to staff more registers.”

What would be the best thing about facial recognition technology systems in retail?

M.M.: “This technology could help retailers make better decisions with physical space, from store planning to product assortment.”

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