A smile at the retail store could be your facial recognition sign-off

The facial recognition tool will identify customers as they walk into the store, in order to leverage the data and offer hyper-personalised in-store experiences

Things like maintaining social distancing and not touching products in markets and stores unnecessarily are expected to become the new normal, even after the coronavirus situation improves. In times like these, artificial intelligence (AI)-powered consumer experience platform Capillary Technologies is piloting a visual loyalty programme for retail stores that does away with filling up forms at the counter and replaces the process with something as innocuous as a smile.


“We are running this programme as a pilot in three stores in Bengaluru and 98 out of every 100 customers have been opting for it,” says Aneesh Reddy, co-founder and CEO of the Bengaluru-based company, which is backed by Warbug Pincus.


There is a camera placed behind the cashier and the customer simply has to look up and smile, which is taken as a signoff. Automatically, the points earned by the buyer would be added to the account and redeemed in the next purchase.


The facial recognition tool will also identify customers as they walk into the store, in order to leverage the data and offer hyper-personalised in-store experiences. “When one shops online, the colours, designs and products shown to the buyer are based on his/her past shopping experience. We want buyers to have such a personalised experience while they shop in stores too,” added Reddy. The product, which is likely to be rolled out by the next quarter, leverages AI-technology along with machine learning (ML) and computer vision. 


But all facial recognition tools come with their share of controversies, raising issues about their potential to invade privacy. Reddy, however, says that it’s an opt-only tool coming from Capillary’s Smart Stores stable, which empowers clients such as KFC, Pizza Hut, Samsung and Walmart, and enhances their omnichannel strategy.


Earlier, Delhi-based tea-cafe chain Chaayos had come under attack for allegedly using facial recognition technology without the consent of customers. The company, however, clarified that it is completely up to the customers to decide whether or not to opt for this feature. Since Chaayos serves several varieties of the beverage, once a customer walks into a cafe, he/she can go to the counter and stand in front of the facial recognition android tablet. The module recognises the customer’s face within four seconds, matches it to his or her tea preference already saved in the app and sends out the order for the customised cup of the beverage. 


Capillary also has another product called ‘Visitor Metrix’ which helps brands sell the right products to the right customers. The system captures accurate age and gender demographic data to help brands personalise customer experience. These insights can then empower brands to optimise store inventory and predict customer preferences. It also offers a retail analytics dashboard that helps stores track in-store conversion ratio and the hours where most conversions take place. 

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